7 Foods That Can Help Burn Belly Fat
Trading sugary and processed foods with these healthy alternatives can help banish extra fat around the waist.
We’ve all been there: Staring at the cookies and knowing the healthy choice is the yogurt in the refrigerator. They’re the same number of calories, so what’s the difference, right? Surprisingly, a ton, especially if you’re hoping to shed belly fat from your frame. While there’s no magic bullet for weight loss, eating the following foods will definitely help.
(Related: How To Lose Belly Fat, According To A Celebrity Trainer)
Secret belly-fat burner: Calcium
A review of more than 90 studies in the journal Nutrition Reviews revealed a strong link between high calcium intake and improved body composition. When your calcium is low, your body secretes hormones that let you make better use of the calcium you have. Problem is, at the same time, your body signals fat cells to hold onto fat, including the fat in your belly. Dairy, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, are the preferred sources of calcium. Eat three servings of dairy a day, and keep the rest of your diet in check, and you will steadily lose weight.
Oats and Barley
Secret belly-fat burner: Fibre
Enjoy a delicious barley side dish instead of white rice with dinner and you could be on your way to shedding dangerous belly fat, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. People on a reduced-calorie diet were told to avoid whole-grain foods or to get all their grain servings from whole grains (such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, barley, and brown rice). Although both groups lost equal amounts of weight, the whole-grain group lost more abdominal fat. Good rule of thumb: Get at least three servings of whole-grain foods a day. A serving is a slice of bread, an ounce of cold cereal, or a half-cup of cooked cereal, rice, pasta, or other grain. Oatmeal and barley are particularly good choices because they’re rich in soluble fibre and don’t typically raise blood sugar as much as white or brown rice.
(Try: Overnight Maple-Banana Oats)
Secret belly-fat burner: Catechins
You’ll not only be fighting cancer and heart disease by sipping green tea, but you’ll shrink your belly, especially if you’re walking, too, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. Study participants drank a beverage containing catechins-powerful antioxidant compounds in green tea-or a beverage with no catechins. They also did about 180 minutes of moderately intense exercise, mainly walking, each week. (Related: 14 Benefits of Walking for Just 15 Minutes) After 12 weeks, green tea drinkers had lost 7.4 percent more abdominal fat than non-green-tea drinkers. Catechins increase metabolism and the rate at which the liver burns fat. To reap those rewards, drink four to six cups of caffeinated green tea a day and log at least 180 minutes of exercise each week.
(Related: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea You Haven’t Heard Before)
Secret belly-fat burner: Protein
Cutting calories is still the best way to lose weight-as long as you don’t cut too much protein. In a study in the Journal of Nutrition, people followed either a moderately high-protein diet (40 percent carbs/30 percent protein) or a moderately high-carbohydrate diet (55 percent carbs/15 percent protein). After a year, the protein group lost 38 percent more body fat than the carb group. How does protein work? First, your body uses more calories to break down protein food than it does to break down other foods. Protein also helps you keep muscle mass as you’re losing weight, and muscle burns more calories than fat. Finally, protein dampens hunger better than carbs, which also helped the protein group lose weight.
(Related: The Best Sources of Protein, According to the New Canada’s Food Guide)
Include protein at every meal, especially breakfast. Eggs are an easy and inexpensive solution. A hard-boiled egg makes a great snack, especially when you might otherwise reach for a candy bar. Eggs are one of nature’s few good food sources of vitamin D, which research also suggests may play an important role in keeping weight off.
(Check Out: 9 Ways To Eat Hard-Boiled Eggs)
Walnuts and Almonds
Secret belly-fat burner: “Good” Fats
Making your diet a little nuttier could help shrink your belly. According to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, more than 1,200 adults were put into one of three diet groups. One followed a Mediterranean diet and ate an ounce of nuts (mainly walnuts) daily, a second followed a Mediterranean diet and consumed a liter of olive oil every week, and a third served as a control. Only the group eating nuts decreased their abdominal fat.
Plenty of other studies point to nuts as a waist-friendly addition to your diet, as long as you don’t go overboard. Chalk it up to their fibre, their protein, and their “good” fat, which may increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, aiding weight loss. Walnuts are one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds provide extra benefit in the form of fat-busting calcium.
(Try: Healthy Homemade Cereal With Walnuts, Oats and Apricots)
Secret belly-fat burner: Omega-3s
Eating fat might sound like a crazy idea when you’re trying to lose fat, but getting more omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish like salmon could be just what the diet doctor ordered, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, omega-3 fatty acids reduce fat mass. Other studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids make you feel less hungry and more satisfied up to two hours after eating a fatty fish meal. Aim to eat salmon or another oily fish, like mackerel, herring, or canned tuna at least twice a week.
Secret belly-fat burner: Anthocyanins
In a study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, rats on either high-fat or low-fat diets that got just 2 percent of their calories from blueberry powder for 90 days all lost abdominal fat, though the fat loss was greater in rats on the low-fat diet. Anthocyanins-phytonutrients in blueberries-may have an effect on genes that regulate fat metabolism, say researchers. They suggest that one cup of blueberries a day might have similar results in people.