We can get away with a little extra padding on our butt and thighs, but stomach fat isn’t so flattering. So if you want to shed it in a nanosecond, it’s time to get down to work. And, aside from counting calories and making healthy food choices, your best bet for whittling your waistline is to incorporate the following 10 ways to get rid of tummy fat while also starting off with the seven-day diet based on these research-proven concepts.
Choose Less Processed
All food is processed. Simply cutting a carrot or steaming a piece of broccoli means your food has been processed. Cooking, canning, freezing, slicing and dicing are all methods that “process” foods. And though processing itself isn’t bad and in fact in some instances actually helps preserve the nutrition value of a food or even enhance it, less processed foods may be better for your waistline.
In a novel crossover study examining the post-meal thermogenic response (calories burned during digestion) after a whole food meal versus a processed meal, researchers measured subjective scores of satiety (fullness) and post-meal calories burned for a 5-6 hour period after 17 men and women consumed one of two equal calorie meals— one a “whole” food meal and the other a “processed” food meal. The whole food meal consisted of cheddar cheese on multi-grain bread, whereas the processed food meal was processed cheese on white bread. Both meals contained the same amount of calories as well as protein, carbohydrate and fat. Each subject consumed the whole food and processed food meal on separate occasions. Though there were no differences in feelings of fullness after the meals, significantly more calories were burned after the whole food meal (137 ± 14.1 calories) as compared to the processed food meal (73.1 ± 10.2 calories). This study shows that our bodies may expend more energy in the form of calories during the digestion of less processed as compared to highly processed foods.
Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue. Yet the power of protein doesn’t stop there. It also wages a double attack on body fat by increasing post-meal satiety (fullness) and ramping up calories burned during digestion. But, not all protein is created equally.
In a study comparing the effects of meals varying in protein type— casein, soy or whey— researchers found that while whey increased post-meal calorie burn (diet-induced thermogenesis) to a greater extent than casein and soy and all three slowed the post-meal rise in blood sugar, casein and soy did so with very little, if any, increase in insulin secretion. Insulin is a lipogenic hormone, promoting the storage of fat in fat tissue and inhibiting the breakdown of fat. How is this possible? Casein is a slow protein and soy an intermediate protein and therefore both slow down stomach emptying, which blunts the rise in blood sugar from food.
Another study examining the effect of whey on weight and waist circumference used a double-blind randomized design to examine the effect of an equally caloric quantity of whey protein, soy protein or carbohydrate on bodyweight and body fat. Ninety obese or overweight yet otherwise healthy adults were randomly assigned to a 1,670 calorie/day diet plus either 56 grams of whey, soy or carbohydrate consumed twice per day for 23 weeks. After the 23-week period, bodyweight and body fat of the group consuming the whey protein were both significantly lower than the group consuming the carbohydrate, though not significantly different than the group consuming soy. And, waist circumference was significantly smaller in the group consuming whey versus both the soy and carbohydrate group. The results of this study are consistent with other studies that have also shown whey protein improves body composition and/or weight loss even when added to a diet that isn’t restricted in calories.
So which protein is best? Incorporate all three into your diet. Whey, casein and soy area all beneficial. Incorporate dairy into your diet for a natural blend of whey and casein or, make a shake with milk, tofu and fruit. Mix and match these proteins for optimal results but always be sure to include whey if you want less weight around your stomach.
Pick Animal Protein
In addition to sliding whey, casein and soy into your diet, you may want to think twice about going completely vegetarian. Data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Healthy Study, which followed 44,897 men and women aged 50-64 years of age for a three-year period, examined the association between dietary factors and changes in waist circumference. Interestingly, they found that total daily calorie intake and calorie intake from carbohydrate, fat and protein were not related to changes in waist circumference. However, protein intake was inversely associated with increases in waist circumference. Those who ate more protein, particularly animal protein, had smaller waists!
What’s so wonderful about animal protein? It could be its content of essential amino acids (EAAs; all animal based proteins contain all of the EAAs). Past research shows that approximately 10 grams of EAAs per meal maximally stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Another study shows that EAAs matter if you want a nice waistline too. In this cross sectional study, researchers examined the relationship between the amount of quality protein (defined as the ratio of EAAs to total dietary protein), carbohydrate and dietary fat and the amount of times the 10-gram EAA threshold was reached throughout the day, and percent central abdominal fat in 27 healthy adults. Though there was no relationship between carbohydrate or dietary fat and central abdominal fat, the amount of quality protein consumed in a 24-hour period and the amount of times the EAA threshold was reached per day were both inversely related to percent of central abdominal fat. More quality protein and time the EAA threshold is reached = less central abdominal fat.