No matter how much you weigh, you probably hate belly fat.
None of us like how it looks, yet it can be so hard to get rid of. It’s important we try, though, because research has found that belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat when it comes to our health.
Even when we’re at a normal weight for our age, if we have that tell-tale roll around the middle, we’re at a higher risk of premature death, according to one 2015 study. That’s because fat around the abdominal area tends to collect around our internal organs, where it can do more damage.
“When you have fat around the belly,” said Dr. Paul Poirier in a related editorial, “it’s a lot worse than having the same amount of fat around the hip.” That’s because belly fat has been linked to inflammation, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
If you’ve tried to get rid of that belly fat, you know that it’s not easy. Fortunately, in addition to getting regular aerobic exercise (the most effective kind for trimming the waist), you can choose foods that are less likely to make you bloat, and that can actually help you slim down. We’ve got seven of the best ones here.
Pile these on your salad and you may be more likely to fit into your skinny jeans. They are water-rich, which means they are low in calories and high in volume-satisfying without being fattening. Cucumbers also work as natural diuretics, which means they help flush excess fluid from the body. You’ll escape the bloat and feel lighter after lunch.
You already know that these are high in healthy antioxidants. One of those antioxidants is a type of flavonoid called an “anthocyanin,” and it can actually help burn abdominal fat. In fact, studies show that all flavonoids help fight flab.
Researchers analyzed the diets of over 2,700 healthy female twins, and found that those whose diets contained the most foods rich in flavonoids (like berries, red grapes, pears, green tea, onions, broccoli, citrus fruits, and legumes) had significantly lower total body fat and abdominal fat compared to those who consumed the least. This was true even after researchers accounted for exercise and other dietary factors.
3. Chili Peppers
If you want to slim down, heat it up. Spicy foods like chili peppers get your metabolism going. In a 2011 study, researchers found that participants who ate capsaicin-rich foods (capsaicin is the active compound in chili peppers) had fewer cravings for unhealthy foods and ate less. The researchers concluded that capsaicin may help prevent weight gain.
Add walnuts and other types of nuts to this one, because they’re all rich in nutrients and healthy fats, and help keep you satisfied for longer. Almonds are also a good source of magnesium, which helps keep your digestive system moving normally.
In a 2015 study, researchers actually found that a handful of almonds could help reduce belly fat. They had participants eat 1.5 ounces of almonds daily instead of a high-carb snack. After 12 weeks, the participants not only trimmed their middles, they also experienced improvements in LDL and total cholesterol levels.
“Our research found that substituting almonds for a high-carbohydrate snack improved numerous heart health risk factors, including the new finding that eating almonds reduced belly fat,” said lead researcher Claire Berryman.
These sweet and juicy fruits make the perfect snack. Not only are they nutritious and packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, they may also help you lose weight around the belly.
Overweight women who ate three apples or pears a day for three months lose more weight than their counterparts who ate a similar diet, only with oat cookies instead of the fruits. This may be because apples are water-rich, so they’re low in calories, and they also contain 5 grams of weight-busting fiber.
Yogurt is rich in calcium, and also contains those healthy probiotics that have recently been linked to a number of health benefits.
In a 2003 study, researchers found that adding yogurt to a low-calorie diet helped people to lose belly fat. Some obese participants took calcium supplements, while others ate yogurt every day. After 12 weeks, all of them lost weight, but the yogurt group lost four pounds more of fat.
When the scientists conducted body scans of all participants, they found that sixty percent of the yogurt eaters’ weight loss was belly fat, whereas only 26 percent of the comparison group’s weight loss was belly fat.
Just be sure to watch out for the sweetened yogurts. They contain a lot of sugar and will likely cause you to bloat. Choose plain or lightly sweetened options.
Pile these on your sandwiches and use them in baking to help slim your tummy. They’re rich in healthy fats that keep you satisfied, have a couple grams of filling fiber, and were found in one study to help maintain a healthy waistline.
Researchers examined the eating habits and waistline measurements for over 17,000 adults. They found that those who ate more avocados had lower body weights and lower waist circumferences than those who ate few avocados.
“Avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome,” the researchers wrote.
How do you keep your belly fat under control?
SourcesSteven Reinberg, “Belly Fat is Bad, Even at a Normal Weight,” Consumer HealthDay, November 9, 2015, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/body-fat-health-news-300/belly-fat-is-bad-even-at-a-normal-weight-705093.html.Leslie Beck, “Want to stay slim? Up your flavonoid intake,” The Globe and Mail, February 3, 2017, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/want-to-stay-slim-up-your-flavonoid-intake/article33895368/.Nick Tate, “Almonds Reduce Belly Fat: Penn State Study,” NewsMax.com, January 7, 2015, http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/almonds-belly-fat-weight/2015/01/07/id/617085/.