Perhaps you’re skeptical about certain foods being able to give targeted weight loss in problem areas – it certainly seems too good to be true, but read on to find out about the 7 scientifically-researched foods that can help you get rid of belly fat.
1. Low Fat Milk, Low Fat Yogurt or Swiss Cheese
The journal Nutrition Reviews looked at over 90 dietary studies, and found that high calcium intake was linked to improved body composition. When your calcium levels are low, your body secretes hormones that try to make better use of the calcium you already have in store. At the same time, your body signals fat cells to hold onto fat – including belly fat.
All dairy products, cheese and yogurt are great sources of calcium. Eat three servings a days, and keep an eye on the rest of your diet.
2. Oats and Barley
If you eat a barley side dish instead of white rice with your dinner, and it could help you to lose belly fat.
In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, two groups of subjects on a reduced-calorie diet were told either not to eat whole-grain foods, or to get all their grain servings from whole-grains. These whole grains included whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, barley and brown rice.
Both groups lost an equal amount of weight, but the whole-grain diet group lost more abdominal fat.
Try to get at least three servings of whole grains each day. One serving is a slice of bread, on ounce of uncooked oatmeal, or ½ cup of cooked oatmeal. The serving sizes for oatmeal also count for rice, pasta or other grain.
3. Green Tea
According to the Journal of Nutrition study, drinking green tea is good for removing abdominal fat, especially if you combine it with a walking regime.
Subjects in the study drank either a beverage containing catechins (powerful antioxidant substances found in green tea) or a drink containing no catechins. They also walked for around 180 minutes each week.
After 12 weeks, the green tea drinkers had lost around 7.4% more abdominal fat than those who didn’t drink it. To get the benefits of catechins, drink four to six cups of caffeinated green tea per day, and do at least 180 minutes of exercise each week.
While there are hundreds of fad diets out there, cutting calories is still the best way to lose weight – as long as you eat enough protein.
In a Journal of Nutrition study, subjects followed either a moderately high-protein diet of 40% carbs/30% protein, or a moderately high carbohydrate diet of 55% carbs/15% protein. After a year, the protein group lost 38% more body fat than the higher carb group.
Protein helps you to retain muscle mass as you lose weight, and it helps you to stay feeling fuller for longer, so you’re less likely to binge on junk food between meals.
Breakfast is a great way to get protein in at the start of your day, and you should aim to eat a serving of protein at every meal. Eggs are full of protein, easy to cook, and inexpensive. They are also a good source of vitamin D.
Salmon are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can actually help you to lose fat. The British Journal of Nutrition did a study that showed omega-3 fatty acids reduce fat mass. No-one is quite sure yet of the way this works – just that it does.
Other studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids make you feel less hungry for up to two hours after eating salmon or other oily fish, like mackerel, herring or canned tuna.
Aim to eat a serving of oily fish at least twice a week.
The University of Michigan did a study on rats where they were fed either high-fat or low-fat diets. A component of both these diets were that each group got 2% of their daily calories from blueberry powder. After 90 days, both groups had lost abdominal fat, although the fat loss was greater in the rats on the low-fat diet.
Researchers suggest eating one cup of blueberries a day to aid fat loss.
7. Walnuts and Almonds
According to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, over 1,200 adults were put into three different diet groups. One followed a Mediterranean diet, which included an ounce of nuts daily, a second followed a Mediterranean diet that consumed a liter of olive oil each week. The third group acted as a control group for the experiment. Only the group who ate nuts daily lost their abdominal fat.
Walnuts are one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds provide lots of calcium. Don’t go overboard on the nuts, tasty as they are – they’re quite heavy in calories.