Whittle your waistline with these 20 tasty and fat-blasting foods.
Sadly, there are no magic foods that will simply melt away belly fat when you eat them. Trimming your waistline has more to do with what you don’t eat: you’ve got to cut out refined carbs and sugar, including alcohol, which tends to encourage fat storage in the abdomen. Of course, a few crunches wouldn’t hurt, either. But these 20 foods have properties that can aid in the battle of the muffin top, like helping to regulate blood sugar and discouraging fat from accumulating in the first place.
The biggest key to eliminating belly fat is to avoid unhealthy saturated and trans fats and go for monounsaturated fats instead. Just half of an avocado contains 10 grams of monounsaturated fat, which helps control blood sugar spikes that can direct fat storage to the abdomen.
Whole grains rich in insoluble fiber help you feel full longer, so you won’t give in to unhealthy temptations. They also help stabilize your blood sugar. Replace refined carbs like white rice and white bread with whole grains like oats, quinoa and brown rice, and you can decrease your belly fat over time.
The soluble fiber in beans, vegetables and fruits actually helps decrease visceral fat, which is the fat stored inside your body cavity around your organs. Visceral fat is more hazardous to your health than the subcutaneous fat found under the skin, and it can cause that beer belly look. Try to get at least 10 grams of soluble fiber per day from sources like pinto beans, green peas and apples.
There’s a nasty rumor going around that bananas are fattening. Ignore it. One banana is a great snack at 105 calories, plus it’s rich in potassium, which aids muscle function. They’re low in fat, but contain enough starch to make you feel full.
Flavonoids in citrus fruits can help the liver burn fat more efficiently, according to a recent study. Research found that the flavonoids naringenin normalized glucose metabolism in subjects with metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. The grapefruit-derived compound seems to actually program the liver to burn up excess fat, opening the door to possible obesity treatments in the future.
Of all nuts, pistachios have the least calories, and they’re rich in fiber and healthy unsaturated fats. Two 2011 studies found that pistachios are a great snack choice for the weight-conscious for two additional reasons: unshelling them takes time, slowing down the snacking process, and the empty shells provide a visual cue as to how much you’ve already eaten.
A diet rich in blueberries may help reduce and prevent belly fat. Studies show that blueberries can reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, which causes increased belly fat. Researchers believe the effect comes from the high level of phytochemicals that blueberries contain.
A daily serving of soy may help prevent weight gain around the middle in post-menopausal women. Research found that the isoflavones in soy bind to estrogen receptors in fat tissue, helping to regulate body metabolism. It’s not clear why soy helps reduce and prevent belly fat in particular, but it does seem to work.
Cinnamon has been found to help regulate blood sugar, preventing the spikes that cause belly fat to accumulate. Add it to a bowl of oatmeal and blueberries and you’ve got an ideal way to start your day.
Obese men and women on a reduced calorie diet that included three daily portions of yogurt lost 61% more fat and 81% more abdominal fat than those who didn’t eat yogurt in a 2003 study. Be sure to choose low-fat or fat-free, and avoid the flavored varieties, which can pack a lot of counterproductive sugar.
Several studies have found that green tea consumption not only speeds up weight loss, but that belly fat is the first to go. Combined with a consistent diet and regular exercise, a group that drank green tea each day lost 4.4 pounds after 12 weeks, compared to just 2 lost by the group that drank coffee instead. The green tea group had a larger decline in total abdominal fat.
Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which may help reduce abdominal fat. Eating fat to lose fat many not seem to make sense, but as long as you control your calories and replace those unhealthy fats (like butter), you should get noticeable results.
Like olive oil, macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat. The oil in macadamia nuts contains a high amount of palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 fatty acid that has been found to assist in weight loss.
Lean protein from sources like skinless chicken help ramp up your metabolism, and help you avoid the types of dietary fat that cause abdominal fat storage. In combination with regular exercise, lean protein builds muscles, helping your body burn more fat even when you’re just sitting on the couch.
Low in calories and high in both nutrients and soluble fiber, leafy greens are an excellent addition to the diet of anyone looking to lose belly fat. Kale, for example, contains a phytochemical called indole-3-carbinol that lowers the liver’s secretion of a chemical that transports bad cholesterol from the blood to fatty deposits in the body.
Salmon is another great source of lean protein, but it’s possibly even better for you than skinless chicken because it’s packed with essential fatty acids, which help sustain muscle growth.
Sure, peanut butter is loaded with calories, and you should definitely eat it sparingly. But what it does have is lots of monounsaturated fat, the good fat that helps your body trim down. With eight grams of protein per serving, peanut butter will also help you feel full longer, so you don’t overeat.
An excellent source of protein and fiber, almonds have both monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, which work together to lower cholesterol. Add it to your yogurt and blueberries.
What can’t dark chocolate do? It feels like a decadent treat, but it’s relatively low in sugar. And best of all, the mental boost that we get from dark chocolate reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes belly fat to accumulate.
The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil can help make digestion more efficient, preventing insulin spikes that cause fat storage. Flaxseed oil is a common vegetarian alternative to fish oil, and those omega-3s are crucial to brain and tissue health.
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