Best Foods for a Flat Belly
By Lucy Danziger
What if someone told you that the way you eat could whittle your waistline? Sure, you'd think. Give up carbs and rely on rabbit food. Not true! I'm happy to tell you that there are other, yummier ways to go. Certain foods and styles of eating can indeed help flatten your belly (and everywhere else, for that matter). Try these tips and you'll uncover an amazing middle in no time.
Gimme a C: I love pink grapefruit and that's a good thing, since research has found that foods that are naturally rich in vitamin C—think citrus fruit, cantaloupe and red peppers—can help reduce fat absorption. In fact, skip it and you may see your middle expand, since diets low in vitamin C have been linked to bigger waistlines. Meet your daily goal of 75 milligrams by snacking on an orange or a cup of strawberries. See how these small changes can add up to big results.
Tea up: Women with the highest consumption of catechins, the plant-based antioxidants in tea that may boost fat burn, put on fewer pounds over 14 years than those who drank less tea, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals. Try to choose green or white varieties, which contain the most catechins. Learn how to maximize the benefits of tea and other superfoods.
Peel it off: Reach for a banana and you'll banish bloat faster than you can say Buddha belly. The fruit contains 422 mg of potassium, which controls the amount of puff-producing sodium in your system. Toss a banana in your bag for a fabulous ab-flattening snack. Try our Flat Abs Fast plan for more bloat-reducing tips and tricks.
Go low: Consuming just one meal of low-glycemic-index foods, those that your body digests slowly, can help you feel fuller all day so you're less likely to pack your tummy with treats, a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports. Low-GI foods include oatmeal and vegetables (sorry, not potatoes), as well as some fruit like grapefruit and blueberries. Oatmeal Meatballs are a tasty way to curb cravings.
Stroll away your sweet craving: Loco for cocoa? Me, too. A little dark chocolate is fine, but if you've already hit your limit, try lacing up your sneakers! Chocolate lovers who walked for 15 minutes reported reduced hankerings during the walk and even afterward, according to a study in the journal Appetite.
Ditch high-fructose corn syrup: Scan labels and you're likely to see high-fructose corn syrup on many ingredient lists...even on things like tomato sauce! When you do, put down that jar and look for something else. Why? High-fructose corn syrup can cause a surge in your blood sugar, and some research suggests it messes up your hunger and satiety signals, like leptin, leaving you less satisfied and causing you to eat more. When leptin responses fail, it's tougher to control appetite. The result: Extra calories get deposited as fat. To prevent this, trade packaged foods with high-fructose corn syrup for ones with healthy fats and fiber—think veggies, hummus, nuts or sunflower seeds.
Snap your snack: Taking a photo of your plateful of food can keep you slim. People who took pictures of everything they ate for five days reported consuming fewer snacks and being less likely to go back for seconds than during a week-long period in which they kept a written food diary, a study from the University of Wisconsin at Madison finds. Try capturing your meals for a week to help eyeball portion sizes as well as color variety—aim for more green, less white (unless it's cauliflower). See an example of this, and get ideas for healthy, photo-worthy meals of your own, at Eat Like Me.