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While overall fat accumulation and excessive weight are a growing cause for concern worldwide, abdominal obesity, or simply put, belly fat is an even bigger reason to worry about, especially for women.
The body tends to store excess fat in designated fat cells all over the body, but central obesity or belly fat occurs due to: (1)
- Hormonal changes
- Genetics (which affects how your body stores fat)
- Stress and the release of cortisol
- Insulin resistance
Fortunately, diet changes and exercise can lead to weight loss that can also help reduce the weight around the midsection.
Before diving into this article, remember that losing fat in just one area of the body is not possible, and you must seek to lose overall weight instead.
Foods That Help Burn Belly Fat
While diet changes can go a long way in shaping the body, including a few foods that will target the reasons for accumulating belly fat will certainly give you the extra help. Here’s what you can eat.
Apples are a great food to consume in the daily diet. They are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants and are useful in preventing heart diseases and reducing the risk of diabetes and even cancer. In Turkey, apples are used as part of a weight loss diet. (2)
Multiple experiments have reported the use of whole apples and apple juice in effectively reducing weight in 4–12 weeks. (3)
Recent studies have also isolated an anti-obesity compound in apple peels – ursolic acid – which was identified to have more fat-suppressing activity than the components present in the flesh of apples. The peel also contains 31% of the total polyphenols in the fruit. So, it is worth eating apples with the peels on. (4)
Just remember to wash and scrub the peel well with room-temperature water before consuming.
Beans are consumed as part of the diet in many regions around the world. They are a great source of vegetarian protein and are rich in fiber and beneficial polyphenols. Beans are known to give early satiety, thus preventing overeating and helping gut microorganisms thrive. (5)
A study evaluating the relationship between consumption of beans and body fat showed that women who consumed more beans had lesser overall body fat and smaller waists. (5)
So, include those beans in your main meals, salads, or dips and enjoy their slimming benefits.
A versatile vegetable full of flavor and beneficial polyphenols, broccoli is another food you can consume to shed that extra weight.
Eating broccoli can reduce the synthesis of fat, improve liver health, and benefit gut microorganisms, as noted in an animal study. (6) Moreover, consumption of broccoli microgreens, the young shoots of broccoli, has also shown anti-obesity effects in high-fat diets. (7)
Abundantly rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, grapes have several benefits.
In animal studies, including grapes in a low-fiber, high-sugar diet resulted in low fat mass and more lean muscle. It also had a protective effect on the liver, preventing fat accumulation in liver cells. In addition, it increased the number of specific gut bacteria responsible for increasing the total calories burnt by the body. (8)
Grapes are also rich in a specific polyphenol – resveratrol. Not only is this compound a powerful antioxidant, but it also improves insulin resistance and reduces abdominal obesity. (9)
Include 1 cup of red or green grapes in your smoothies, salads, or snacks.
Grapefruit belongs to the citrus fruits category, which is rich in vitamin C along with other nutrients. Half a grapefruit has 100% of the daily requirement of vitamin C and 8% of dietary fiber. (10)
People who eat grapefruit regularly have been found to have lower body weight, smaller waists, a lower BMI, and low triglyceride levels (that also contribute to belly fat). (10)
Therefore, consume grapefruit to get your daily vitamin C fix and a smaller waistline.
6. Sweet potato
Sweet potato is used in traditional medicine to manage diabetes and reduce insulin resistance. Since insulin resistance is a contributing factor to belly fat, sweet potatoes can help reduce the waistline. (11)
In one study, office workers in Taiwan replaced one meal with sweet potato for 8 weeks and had a 5% decrease in overall body weight and body fat without any side effects. (11)
Though dietitians may not recommend replacing meals at the risk of micronutrient deficiencies, including sweet potato in the daily diet can help with weight loss.
Oats is an incredibly healthy cereal and breakfast choice. They are filled with a soluble fiber called beta-glucan that aids in metabolism and protects the liver from damage. (12)
In overweight people between the age of 18 and 65 years, eating oats for breakfast for 12 weeks reduced not only their overall body weight but also their waistline. (12)
Start your day with a bowl of healthy unsweetened oats to achieve a slimmer waist and better health.
8. Prebiotic-rich foods
Prebiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi contribute to the diversity and health of gut microorganisms. (13) Several studies have reported prebiotic foods were useful in reducing hip and waist circumference. (13)
Include a serving of prebiotic food in your daily meals for a kick of flavor and to get a slimmer waistline.
In one study, participants who ate eggs for breakfast had significantly less eating and lower hunger after the breakfast meal, which reduced overeating and led to weight reduction. (14)
It is important to note that this efficacy of eggs was observed alongside a diet low in calories.
10. Coconut oil
Coconut oil, extracted from coconuts, can be a useful addition to a weight and belly fat reduction plan.
In a study done on men with obesity, intake of 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil improved their levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which can contribute to belly fat. (15)
This can be confirmed from another study done on 20 adults with obesity, where consuming virgin coconut oil for 1 week resulted in approximately 3 cm off the waist. (16)
ALSO READ: What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil?
Before you set about losing weight, you must keep in mind that weight loss occurs due to calorie restriction and changes in the diet, so it is important to include the foods used in this article as part of a modified diet.
You must also remember to include other food groups in your diet to lose weight in a healthy manner.
In addition, here are certain other practices that can help in reducing abdominal weight:
- Say no to processed foods such as pastries, cakes, deep-fried snacks, sweetened fruit juices, and flavored drinks or yogurts.
- Read nutritional labels to identify the best products. Even though some products make claims to be low in carbohydrates or fat or sugar, they may not be. Ready-to-consume foods such as sauces, mayonnaise, and salad dressings can contain high amounts of sugar and additives that may contribute to weight gain or may be detrimental to your weight loss efforts.
- Try limiting carbohydrates since they are converted into fat for storage, which often accumulates around the abdomen. Studies have reported even a small amount of carbohydrate reduction can help in fat loss around the abdomen. (17)
- Incorporate exercises that can strengthen the core and stomach muscles. Combining that with aerobic exercises can help with the reduction of fat around the stomach and tone the waistline.
Can I use belly-fat-burning supplements?
Some of the belly fat burners are made with ingredients that can help improve metabolism and aid in fat loss. However, these take a long time and will be ineffective without changes to the diet and lifestyle. Moreover, they are often expensive.
It is better to rely on natural remedies and food for long-term healthy weight loss.
Can nuts help in fat loss?
Nuts have been recommended as healthy sources of fat that can be useful in maintaining overall health as well as fat loss.
Studies have also reported peanut sprouts to have an effect in reducing abdominal fat in women with obesity. (18)
I eat the foods in this article but still don’t lose weight. Why?
There are some other factors you might be missing out such as:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Lack of physical activity
- High levels of stress
- Lack of good sleep
Losing weight requires a holistic approach, and consulting a doctor and dietitian will allow you to identify areas that you are missing out on.
Fat around the belly can be difficult to lose, putting undue pressure on you. Not only is it a risk factor for developing chronic illnesses, but it can also lead to body image issues, especially in young women.
While diet changes and lowered calorie consumption are good approaches to losing overall fat in the body, some foods can aid that process. Include the foods mentioned in this article in your diet for a healthy reduction of not only belly fat but also overall weight.