Previously in this space we published a blog touching on some key points specific to belly fat. Included in the discussion was a summary of what belly fat is, its potential perils to our health, and several the underlying factors that contribute to it. Knowing those factors gives you a head start on what you can do to avoid belly fat or trim away what already is there. Now it's time to talk about eating – not the pig out kind of eating, obviously, but eating the right kinds of foods in waging war against belly fat. In this follow-up discussion on belly fat, it's important to remember that the real enemy lurks beneath – that is, the visceral fat that surrounds and, therefore, endangers key organs in our body, such as our heart and liver. The intent is not to get rid of all the visceral fat, just a lot of it – some visceral fat needs to remain as it provides cushioning for those organs.
Attack Belly Fat through EatingLet's talk about eating away belly fat. That's right, eat our way to a smaller, healthier belly while burning away some of that excess fat lurking below the surface. Following are some dietary considerations to keep in mind, as well as on our plates:
- Avoid processed foods. This includes, but certainly is not limited to, refined grains such as white bread, crackers and chips, per health.com. Processed foods are notorious for causing inflammation, which in turn is a root cause of belly fat. Sweetened drinks and desserts also are a culprit in this regard.
- Eat fish. You hear that a lot here, and for good reason. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna contain polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3's, that are inflammation fighters, and therefore good for us. Yes, there are good fats and bad fats, and fatty fish are the former, albeit in moderate quantities.
- Go for soluble fiber. Per healthline.com, soluble fiber, like that found in flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts and avocados, absorbs water and in doing so creates a gel that helps reduce the speed at which food passes through the digestive system. That makes us feel full longer and less inclined to overeat.
- Get lots of protein. Protein-packed foods include meat, fish eggs and dairy products, and studies have found that those who eat more protein have less abdominal fat than those who consume a lesser-protein diet. Two other things to appreciate about protein, which is a vital nutrient in terms of controlling our weight: consumption of sufficient protein, per healthline.com, enhances the release of PYY, a hormone that diminishes appetite; protein also boosts our metabolic rate.
- Watch those carbs. We need some carbs to help fuel our workouts, but, all things considered, reducing our carb intake can help us lose pounds in the abdominal area. Studies have shown that a daily diet of fewer than 50 grams of carbs can lead to belly fat loss in those who are overweight.
- Cook with coconut oil. Coconut oil is another healthy fat – it can bolster our metabolism and help reduce the fat being stored, with studies showing that this can lead to abdominal fat loss.
- Be quick to quinoa. There's a lot to like about quinoa, a type of plant food that sounds almost too good to be true, but it is true that it is good for us. It is gluten-free, high in protein, high in fiber and contains all nine essential amino acids. It's also nutrient dense and contains healthy carbohydrates, per mensfitness.com. Add it up and you get a great fat burner.
- Load up on blueberries. They are a terrific antioxidant yet low in calories. Studies have shown that the antioxidant compounds in blueberries do a great job getting rid of fat cells.
- Think probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria available in some foods, such as Greek yogurt, that can aid in digestion as well as improving gut health and immune function. That can also translate to weight loss, including reduced fat in the belly.
- Drink apple cider vinegar. Chances are, a little goes a long way. It provides acetic acid, which has been shown in animal studies to reduce abdominal fat storage, per healthline.com.