If you envy women who wear belly-hugging shirts and strut with confidence in their bikini during the summer, rest assured that you, too, can have a flat belly if you train hard and eat a diet that keeps fat off your midsection while also banishing bloating. Add the top 10 flat belly foods to your diet and you may find yourself buying shirts that are intentionally short and modestly showing off the midsection you’ve worked for.
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt with Live and Active Cultures
The bacteria that live in your gut help digest food and therefore minimize the potential for gas and bloating. Plus, a recently published study found the amount of healthy, versus harmful, bacteria influences bodyweight and how much weight you can lose while following a reduced-calorie diet. How can you make sure the good bacteria is in charge? Put Greek yogurt that contains “live cultures (aka good bacteria)” or has a “Live and Active Cultures” seal on your shopping list. In addition to helping populate your gut with an army of good bacteria that work for you, Greek yogurt also contains more protein, which keeps you full for a longer period of time.
And, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity found people who get their calcium from yogurt, as opposed to other foods, may lose more weight in their belly. Even more evidence to support yogurt consumption comes from a study that found dieters who ate five servings of dairy, such as Greek yogurt, daily lost more weight and abdominal fat than those who ate just three servings every day.
Though nuts are relatively high in calories for a small amount of food, research shows people don’t gain weight when they add nuts to their previously nut-free diet. Also, a study examining dietary recalls from more than 13,000 adults revealed that nut eaters— those who ate at least one-fourth ounce of nuts or peanuts (technically a legume) per day— had lower BMIs and a smaller waist circumference than adults who didn’t eat nuts. Additionally, tree nuts and peanuts contain a considerable amount of monounsaturated fat. And, in one study, dieters who ate foods containing monounsaturated fats lost more belly fat than those who ate the same number of calories per day with less monounsaturated fat.
When examining dietary patterns, weight and waist circumference in close to 80,000 people during a 10-year period, researchers found those who ate more vegetables every day had both a lower BMI and waist circumference compared to adults who ate few vegetables. So, eat a wide variety of vegetables including asparagus. Asparagus contains prebiotic fiber, a type of fiber that fuels the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Plus, asparagus is a natural mild diuretic, making it the perfect food before hitting the beach or wearing your new pencil skirt.
Popcorn is a whole grain and when you pop it yourself on the stovetop (or in a brown paper bag in the microwave) and top it with a little spray butter or spices for flavor, you’ll end up with a snack that takes a long time to eat yet fills you up on relatively few calories. In addition, several studies show people who eat about three servings of whole grains per day have a lower bodyweight and smaller waist circumference than those who don’t.
Cold Pea Salad
Peas are naturally rich in resistant starch, a type of fiber that isn’t completely broken down or absorbed during digestion. And cooking and cooling peas, like you do when making a pea salad, will significantly increase the amount of resistant starch they contain. Why do you want more resistant starch? Rodent studies show resistant starch helps reduce stomach fat and increase hormones that tell the brain it’s time to stop eating.
Choose eggs over cereal in the morning and you’ll tame hunger pangs for hours after breakfast, decreasing the likelihood that you’ll overeat later in the day. Make a meal containing at least 25 to 30 total grams of protein so you can cash in on the satiety-enhancing benefits of egg whites (the protein is in the white of the egg, so this equates to four to five egg whites— though you can choose any combination of whole eggs and egg whites as long as you consume at least four to five of the whites). Added bonus: following a high-protein diet for a short period of time can lead to significant reductions in belly fat, especially if you replace some of the snack food carbohydrates in your diet with protein.
The combination of caffeine and antioxidants in green tea may lead to small to moderate reductions in body fat and waist size. However, you need to consume quite a bit of it so get creative and cook with green tea by brewing it and using it to cook rice (it’s particularly good with jasmine rice), make stews, soups or stocks. You can also poach fruit green tea or use dried green tea leaves as part of a rub for meats, tofu or fish.
Avocados contain a good amount of monounsaturated fat, not to mention 19 vitamins and minerals. But, their monounsaturated fat is the ticket to a smaller waistline. In one study, scientists had obese adults with type 2 diabetes consume a diet rich in saturated fat, a diet rich in monounsaturated fat or a diet rich in carbohydrates. Those on the high-carbohydrate diet ended up with fat redistributed to their stomachs while the monounsaturated-fat rich diet prevented fat redistribution to the stomach area. Plus, a look at dietary intake data from close to 18,000 adults found bodyweight, BMI and waist size were all significantly lower in avocado consumers versus those who didn’t include avocados in their diet.
Barley is a cereal grain with a nutty taste and consistency that is a cross between pasta and rice. And though rice is a staple of the Japanese diet, one study found they might want to consider swapping some of their rice for barley. In this double-blinded trial (both the men and the researchers didn’t know which food they were getting), Japanese men were given rice or a mixture of rice with pearl barley. The group receiving the pearl barley and rice mixture lost a significant amount of visceral fat— the kind that covers your organs and increases risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. And, compared to the rice-only group, the group who ate pearl barley benefited from a significant drop in waist size.
Blueberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber, so not only do they help keep you full, they also help keep your waistline in check. Plus, they are a natural source of prebiotic fiber— the kind that the good bacteria in your gut munch on. And finally, blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps decrease the rise in cortisol levels after an exhausting bout of exercise. Higher levels of the hormone cortisol have been linked to greater waist size. Don’t forget you can eat blueberries year-round by choosing frozen blueberries and adding them to smoothies, yogurt, baked goods and other dishes.
A flat belly is one of the most recognized signs of a fit body. Blast away abdominal fat with cardio and build the underlying muscle by regularly switching up your abdominal exercises (don’t forget to add some weighted exercises). Keep in mind, though, that abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen. So, add the top 10 flat belly foods to your diet and you may fall in love with tight-fitting dresses and body hugging shirts.
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