Associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, belly fat isn't pretty.
Cutting calories is the key to losing weight. However, when it comes to combatting an expanding waistline, research shows that it might not necessarily be how much we eat, but rather what we eat. The following 10 foods can help to lose weight and trim the tummy.
Two to three servings of fat-free yogurt combined with a low-calorie diet may help accelerate weight loss and reduce stubborn belly fat.
A study from the University of Tennessee found that obese people who ate a daily reduced-calorie diet that included 1,100 mg of calcium from fat-free yogurt lost 22 percent more weight than those who ate the same amount of calories, but took a 500 mg calcium supplement. They also lost 61 percent more body fat, and 81 percent more stomach fat than the lower calcium group.
Dietary calcium in yogurt may help slow down the body’s fat-making process, while the protein may help dieters maintain muscle mass.
One cup (250 mL) of plain, low-fat yogurt contains 415 mg of calcium, up to 40 percent of the daily recommended requirement of this waist-whittling nutrient.
Calorie-dense avocados traditionally have not been considered a diet food, but as a rich source of monounsaturated fat, they may be one of the best to fight a bulging belly.
In a study published by the American Diabetes Association, participants who ate a high-carbohydrate diet tended to accumulate fat around the middle, while those who ate a diet rich in foods with monounsaturated fat had a significant decrease in abdominal fat, even without exercise.
One cup (250 mL) of avocado contains 14 g of monounsaturated fat and provides 58 percent of the daily requirement for this healthy fat.
Antioxidant-rich blueberries are well known for their disease-fighting abilities, and now preliminary evidence suggests this nutritional superstar may be useful in reducing stomach fat as well.
In one study, researchers from the University of Michigan found that obese rats fed blueberry-enriched meals lost more abdominal fat than those fed a normal diet. When the researchers combined blueberries with a low-fat diet, the weight loss was even more significant.
Scientists believe the high level of phytochemicals in blueberries may change the way fat and sugar are processed and stored in the body.
An apple before dinner every day may keep unwanted pounds away.
A study from Penn State University found that when overweight people ate an apple approximately 15 minutes before a meal, they consumed 187 fewer calories than when they ate a different pre-meal snack.
These results could be attributed to the high water and fibre content in the apple, which could make subjects feel full. The researchers, however, suspect the actual act of chewing the fruit may also have played a role in decreasing the participants’ appetites. They suggested eating the apple caused the subjects to think they had eaten more than they actually had.
Almonds are an ideal snack for those who want to shed a few unwanted pounds.
In one study overweight participants followed a 1,000-calorie-per-day diet that included 3 oz (85 g) of almonds. Over the course of the 24-week study, they lost 62 percent more weight and 56 percent more body fat than the group who ate a more carbohydrate-rich diet. The almond-eaters also had a greater reduction in waist circumference and blood pressure.
The researchers suggested that the protein, fat, and fibre in almonds kept their study participants feeling full, while the tough exterior of this nutritious nut may have prevented some of its calories from being absorbed.
Almonds are also an excellent source of belly-flattening monounsaturated fat.
The omega-3 fatty acid found in fish such as wild salmon is not only good for maintaining optimal health, but may also help the body burn more fat during exercise.
Researchers at the University of South Australia found that study participants who took 6 g of fish oil per day and walked for 45 minutes three times a week for three months, lost an average of 4.5 lb (2 kg) of fat, while preserving muscle mass. In contrast, participants who either took fish oil and didn’t exercise, or exercised but supplemented with sunflower oil, did not lose any weight.
The study concluded omega-3 fatty acids may increase the body’s fat-burning ability by improving the flow of blood to the muscles during exercise.
One 4 oz (113 g) serving of wild salmon contains approximately 2 g of omega-3 fatty acid, 87 percent of the recommended daily requirement.
Rich in protein and soluble fibre, beans have been shown to lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar levels, and they may help maintain a healthy weight.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found bean eaters consume approximately 199 calories per day more than non-bean eaters. Those who eat approximately 3/4 cup (180 mL) of beans a day have a 22 percent lower risk of obesity and are likely to have a smaller waistline.
While all beans are good for you, black beans are one of the best. One antioxidant-rich cup contains 15 g of dietary fibre and 15 g of protein.
8: Steel-cut oatmeal
This hearty food is the perfect breakfast to trim your tummy while reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
In one clinical study half the participants ate a healthy diet filled with whole grains, while the other half ate refined grains. After 12 weeks both groups lost weight, but the whole-grain group lost significantly more abdominal fat. The researchers recommended eating a diet that includes whole grain foods, such as steel-cut oatmeal.
According to Canada’s Food Guide adults should eat six to eight servings of grains per day. An example of a serving is 1/2 cup (125 mL) of cooked oatmeal.
Snacking on an orange before hitting the gym could help you get the most out of your workout session.
Researchers at Arizona State University have found a direct link between the amount of vitamin C in the blood and the body’s ability to burn fat. In the study, participants with adequate vitamin C levels burned 30 percent more fat during moderate exercise sessions than those with low levels.
Vitamin C plays an important role in weight management, as it is essential for the production of carnitine, a substance that converts fat into energy.
With 70 mg of vitamin C, one medium orange provides the majority of our daily requirement.
The high water content in this antioxidant-rich melon will help you cut calories while staving off hunger pangs.
In one study, a group of obese women ate a reduced-fat diet high in water-rich foods such as watermelon. The other group reduced only their fat intake. Although both groups lost weight over the course of the year, the water-rich group lost close to three pounds more and reported feeling less hungry than the people in the group who ate the reduced-fat diet.
By eating water-rich fruits and vegetables, the participants were able to eat 25 percent more food by weight without adding calories. This increased food intake likely made it easier for them to stick to their diet and lose more weight.