You've carved out a really great strength routine, your cardio workout is a perfect fit for you. Now all you need is a list of foods that can help you (if you stay active and otherwise eat right), ditch your belly fat! You've come to the right place!
1. ChocolateHave 1 to 3 ounces of at least 70 percent cacao chocolate a day. Chocolate contains flavonoids called catechins which reduce insulin sensitivity and production of cortisol. "Erratic insulin levels and cortisol are powerful in their ability to pack on belly fat," says Pam Peeke, MD, a FITNESS advisory board member and the author ofBody for Life for Women. Dark chocolate is also high in monounsaturated fatty acids which fight inflammation. The cells in visceral fat (like the kind of belly fat that can lead to diabetes) produce molecules that kick start inflammation. It is a cycle that needs breaking. Inflammation leads to belly fat, belly fat leads to more inflammation.
2. VinegarIn a study, test subjects consumed a daily drink that contained 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar or a placebo. After 12 weeks, those who had the vinegar had a lower body weight, lower body mass index, smaller waist and less visceral fat. It appears that the acetic acid in vinegar inhibits fat production. Try getting your vinegar dose in salad dressings and marinades.
3. DairyA study found in the Journal of Nutrition found that overweight and obese women who had 6-7 servings of dairy a day lost close to twice as much visceral fat as women who had 1 or less servings. Yet another study shows that subjects who consumed 1,100 milligrams of calcium a day from yogurt lost 61 percent more body fat and 81 percent more belly fat than those who did not consume yogurt. "Dairy contains the two highest-quality sources of protein — casein and whey," says Stuart M. Phillips, PhD, a coauthor of the first study. "This, in combination with nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, aids in muscle preservation, appetite regulation and fat loss." Also, "dairy fat contains conjugated linoleic acid, which has been shown to help reduce visceral fat," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a coauthor of Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies so bypass the skim in favour of 1%.
4. Green TeaLike chocolate, green tea is full of catechins which helps reduce your waist. A review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reported that consuming 270 to 1,200 milligrams of these catechins daily may help you shed pounds and fat. Coauthor of the review, Kevin C. Maki, PhD, notes that "Green tea catechins may prompt your body to burn more fat and calories, particularly in the period just after each meal." Great news! It gets better, an average cup of green tea contains 111 milligrams of catechins so 2 or 3 cups is all you need to start making a difference.
5. BlueberriesResearchers at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center mixed freeze dried blueberries into the diet of obesity prone rats. After 90 days, the rats had less abdominal fat after 90 days. Another study on mice found that blueberry polyphenols actually prevented fat cells from forming. Researchers aren't really sure how these results can be replicated in humans but many believe a serving or two of blueberries of day could be beneficial. "Blueberries are filled with manganese, which helps convert proteins, carbs, and fats to energy, and is the key to shedding abdominal fat," Palinski-Wade says. Blueberries are also high in antioxidants which can help reduce stress hormones which we already know can lead to fat.
Your Flat Belly Check ListUse this guide at most meals: Consume quality carbs. A Pennsylvania State University study found that people who ate five servings of whole grains a day lost more than twice as much abdominal fat as those who didn't. Pack in the protein. Doesn't matter where it comes from: tofu, legumes, quinoa, lean meat, poultry or fish. But Protein is essential for filling you up, maintaining muscle mass and shrinking your belly. Focus on healthy fats. Omega-3s (found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds) and monounsaturated fatty acids, aka MUFAs (found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados), are your friends. "MUFAs help to fight inflammation, and omega-3 fatty acids help to lower the production of stress hormones that cause your body to store fat, especially in the belly," says Dr. Peeke. If you are looking for more support with your diet you can check out our 14 Day Nutrition Guide - it's a full meal plan with Grocery Lists that support your training and fat loss - all for under $10.
Eat Your Way to A Flatter TummyNeed help figuring out how to fit it all in, use this for meal time inspiration: Breakfast: 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt topped with 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 cup blueberries. Serve with 1 cup green tea. Lunch: Turkey wrap made with one 12-inch whole-grain tortilla, 2 thin slices avocado, 3 ounces low-sodium nitrate-free turkey breast, and 1/2 cup each shredded lettuce and sliced tomato dressed in 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Serve with 1 cup green tea or low-fat milk. Have 1/2 ounce dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao) for dessert. Dinner: Herb-roasted salmon. Whisk together 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon each dried basil, onion flakes and oregano; 1 teaspoon turmeric; 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and black pepper; and 1/8 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest. Brush olive oil mixture on a 4-ounce salmon fillet, then sprinkle with herb mixture, wrap in foil and bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes. Serve with 1 cup steamed veggies, 1/3 cup whole-grain rice and 1 cup green tea. Have 1/2 ounce dark chocolate for dessert. Snack options (eat one or two a day):
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn
- 1 small tomato, sliced, with fresh basil and 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella, dressed in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Smoothie with 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup blueberries and 1/4 cup ice
- Trail mix made with 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal, 2 tablespoons each dried blueberries and slivered almonds and 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
- Apple and 1 tablespoon almond butter
- Baby carrots dipped in 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1/2 cup steamed edamame marinated in 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon chopped garlic