The secret to eating your way to a flatter stomach is not a trick at all. There is no sleight of hand, no magic, although many believe there must be a secret formula that no one has thought of before.
Why do we want tricks? Because losing weight is really difficult. And most people don’t like doing things that are really hard. So we are always looking for this easy way to thin out. And when we see someone who has lost tons of weight, we need to know: how did you do it? Please let’s find out the secret!
Well, if you analyze how most people behaved during the months it took them to lose weight, you would likely notice some variations in a recurring practice: they removed or reduced certain foods and beverages from their diet and replaced them with others Replaced food and beverages. Most of the time, high-calorie processed foods are preferred and replaced with whole foods, mostly vegetables and some fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
Not a big secret, is it? Yes, but that’s the big secret that nobody wants to accept: The best way to lose weight and have a flat stomach is to create your diet with 75 to 80% wholesome and minimally processed foods. If you do, you will likely burn more calories than you swallow – and you will flatten your stomach. It’s easy math, but not that easy to do because we are human and pizza tastes amazing.
For a guide on exactly how to achieve this goal of reducing processed foods and consuming reduced weight foods, we asked nutritionists for their top tummy flattening tips. Read on to see if you notice a pattern and to learn more about how to eat healthily, don’t miss the 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
Mental stress can turn into belly fat. When you are very stressed, your body makes more of the hormone cortisol. “While cortisol is great for fight or flight times, overproduction can lead to spikes in cortisol, and some research shows it can lead to fat build-up in the abdomen,” says a registered dietitian Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, Founder of Root Nutrition. Stress also depletes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, all of which help maintain a healthy nervous system and fight belly fat. Studies show that B vitamins found in dark leafy vegetables, avocados, sunflower seeds, almonds, broccoli, beans, lentils, and citrus fruits must soothe stress, she says.
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The main type of fat to eliminate is visceral or belly fat. “It’s the belly fat that is intertwined around the organs and has been linked to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease,” says a registered dietitian Nicole Stefanow, MS, RDN.
Eating more fiber is an effective way to fight hard-to-lose belly fat. Make sure that some of this fiber is soluble, which can be dissolved in water. “It acts as a prebiotic that is fermented by your healthy gut bacteria to form short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which research has linked to visceral fat reductions and obesity,” she says. So if you’re looking for a diet that will flatten your stomach, choose foods that are high in soluble fiber, like beans and legumes, oats and barley, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
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Simply seasoning your food with spices can help you reduce belly fat. “Turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, sage, thyme, cinnamon, curry leaf, and chilli-pepper spices like cayenne, paprika, red pepper, and chilli powder all lower blood sugar levels by improving your body’s response to insulin,” says Melina B. Jampolis, MD, a Board Certified Medical Practitioner Nutritionist and author of Spice Up, Slim Down: A Guide to Using Herbs and Spices to Live Longer, Healthier, and More Vibrant Lives. She also recommends:
Cumin. “In one study, overweight and obese women were divided into two groups, both of whom cut their daily calories to 500,” she says. “One group ate a little less than a teaspoon of cumin in their yogurt each day and after three months they lost three pounds more than those who didn’t eat cumin.”
Saffron. Research suggests that it can help people control over snacking and help diabetics reduce belly fat.
Cardamom. This highly fragrant herb “can help counteract the effects of consuming too many carbohydrates,” says Jampolis. “In one study, obese subjects who took cardamom gained less belly fat and avoided increases in blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation,” she says.
As mentioned earlier, one of the best steps to significantly reduce your waist size is to avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) like soda, juices, and fruit punch, as well as sweet iced tea. “Sweet drinks are silent killers that cause weight gain, especially the more dangerous belly fat, while putting you at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Jampolis.
She recommends replacing SSBs with water or green tea. “Studies have shown that a type of antioxidant found in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which helps burn fat during exercise, can improve the body’s response to insulin, and reduce belly fat,” says Jampolis . (Related: Secret Effects of Drinking Green Tea, Science Says.)
Even eating healthy whole foods can blow your stomach out with gas if you eat too quickly and don’t pay attention to your portion sizes, says Trista Best, MPH, LD, a Registered Dieter at Balance One Supplements. When you eat quickly, you swallow more air, which leads to gas. Inflammatory foods like gluten or dairy products, or even high-fiber meals, can make gas and gas worse, especially if the enzymes necessary for proper digestion aren’t present in the intestines. “Slowly integrating cruciferous vegetables and high-fiber foods is a great way to help prevent gas,” she says.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, RDN, a nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, says the best way to “clean up your diet” is to base 90% of your food choices around the Mediterranean diet way of eating. Based on the traditional diet of long-lived people in the Mediterranean countries, this diet focuses on plant-based foods such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds and spices, as well as fatty fish, and poultry in moderation. Olive oil is the main fat. “When I feel that a customer needs a little more intervention, I work with a Mediterranean protocol that has a little less carbohydrates, which means a little less grain, beans and legumes,” says the host of the PBS showing The New Rules of Food with Kristin Kirkpatrick.
For many people, the key word to stop eating is a clean plate, a feeling of fullness or unbuttoning your jeans. Quitting before you feel full is a simple strategy that will save calories and help you lose weight. “Think of food as fuel,” advises Kirkpatrick. “Eating filling means that you are overdoing your body.” Instead, stop eating when you are no longer hungry. “It can feel empowering to push your plate away before you get that bulging feeling.”
It’s not a trick, but it works like magic. “If you stick to whole foods, avoid grains, sugars, and dairy products, add a regular resistance routine, and have a little patience, the loss of abdominal fat will come,” says nutritionist Jay Cowin, NNCP, RNT, Director of Formulations at Asystem. “The right fuels at the right time, combined with resistance exercise (plus a little cardio) can have amazing effects on body composition.”
Limiting your window of time to eat can help boost your body’s ability to burn fat. That is the premise of intermittent fasting. “When we sleep, we’re fat-burning machines, and that pops up when we wake up. If we keep going this fast for a few hours after we wake up, we can use that ability to burn more belly fat,” says Cowin. If you extend that no-eat window to 11 or 12 a.m., you get about 16 hours of uninterrupted calorie burn. “As soon as we put carbohydrates / sugar in our mouth, our metabolism really slows down and we store the unburned calories,” says Cowin. “The right fuels at the right time, coupled with resistance exercise (plus a little cardio) can have amazing effects on body composition.”
CONTINUE READING: A surprising side effect of intermittent fasting, says a new study
The friends we hang out with play a big role in why and how we eat. For dinner, they may order extra starters, bread, desserts for the table, or another round of drinks, making it difficult for you to focus on a healthy diet.
Don’t want to stop eating with friends so what can you do? “One tip is to meet for lunch instead of dinner,” suggests a weight loss expert Ilana Mühlstein, MS, RDN, Author of You Can Drop It! How I lost 100 pounds while enjoying carbs, cocktails, and chocolate – and you can too! “Lunches can be easier to navigate, especially when it comes to skipping the dessert course and alcoholic beverages.” And here’s one way to prepare for lunch to reduce the number of calories you’re consuming: eat a low-calorie snack or an appetizer before lunch. A study in the journal Appetite found that eating an apple or ordering clear soup before a meal at the restaurant can lower the total caloric intake of the meal by 20%.
“Eating for a flatter stomach should aim to maintain a calorie deficit (which means you burn fewer calories than you burn) by including low-calorie, bulky foods that fill you up but don’t cost a lot of calories,” says Nationally Certified Nutrition Coach of the Academy of Sports Medicine Karisa Karmali, Founder of self-love and fitness. This means that they eat what they call “flat-stomach foods” that are high in water and fiber, and foods high in protein. “Proteins (like lean chicken breasts, fish, beans, and whey protein smoothies) build muscle and increase your metabolism.” For the biggest protein boost for the calories, check out Popular Foods With More Protein Than Beef.
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