We live in a culture full of choices, yet all too often, as far as what we eat is concerned, we fail to give our body what it needs. Cutting calories often is necessary, particularly as we work to cut unnecessary fat so long as ample protein is included.
Studies indicate that the majority of people tend to choose a relatively high-protein diet or a moderately high-carbohydrate diet. The result of a year-long study indicated that the protein group lost 38% more body fat than the carb group.
Protein is a powerful force to behold. Our body uses more calories (to break down protein foods) than it does to break down other foods. Protein also works alongside muscle mass, helping you to lose weight. In addition, protein processes hunger better than carbs, which also helped the protein group lose weight. But, please turn your mind away from meats as your main source of protein. There are other alternatives! Dark leafy greens are my favorite. Most people don’t think of spinach or kale as a protein option, but they are incredible nutrient-dense sources. Another perk is that they do not cause inflammation to the body like many meat options produce. Eggs are a great source too. And while protein is important to lose weight and build muscle, too much protein is hard on your liver. Classic studies indicate that women only require 30-50 grams of protein a day and men only require 50-70 grams.
Eat these foods to naturally increase your body’s fat-burning potential.
Secret belly-fat burner: Protein
Include protein at every meal, especially breakfast. Eggs are an easy and inexpensive solution. A hard-boiled egg makes a great snack, especially when you might otherwise reach for a candy bar. Eggs are one of nature’s few good food sources of vitamin D as well, which research also suggests may play an important role in keeping weight off.
Almond milk (has more calcium than cow’s milk and is healthier)
Secret belly-fat burner: Calcium
A review of more than 90 studies in the journal Nutrition Reviews revealed a strong link between high calcium intake and improved body composition. When your calcium is low, your body secretes hormones that let you make better use of the calcium you have. Problem is, at the same time, your body signals fat cells to hold onto fat, including the fat in your belly. Dairy, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, are NOT the preferred sources for calcium. Almond milk, broccoli, kale, and sesame seeds are ideal. Eat three servings of calcium-rich foods a day, and keep the rest of your diet in check, and you will steadily lose weight.
Secret belly-fat burner: Fiber
Enjoy a delicious barley side dish instead of white rice with dinner and you could be on your way to shedding dangerous belly fat, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. People on a reduced-calorie diet were told to avoid whole-grain foods or to get all their grain servings from whole grains (such as Ezikel bread, oatmeal, barley, and brown rice). Although both groups lost equal amounts of weight, the whole-grain group lost more abdominal fat. Good rule of thumb: Get at least two-three servings of whole-grain foods a day. A serving is a half-cup of cooked oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, or other grain. Oatmeal and barley are particularly good choices because they’re rich in soluble fiber and don’t typically raise blood sugar as much as white or brown rice.
Secret belly-fat burner: Catechins
You’ll not only be fighting cancer and heart disease by sipping green tea, but you’ll shrink your belly, especially if you’re walking, too, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. Study participants drank a beverage containing catechins—powerful antioxidant compounds in green tea—or a beverage with no catechins. They also did about 180 minutes of moderately intense exercise, mainly walking, each week. After 12 weeks, green tea drinkers had lost 7.4% more abdominal fat than non-green-tea drinkers. Catechins increase metabolism and the rate at which the liver burns fat. To reap those rewards, drink two to four cups of green tea a day and log at least 180 minutes of exercise each week.
Secret belly-fat burner: “Good” Fats
Making your diet a little nuttier could help shrink your belly. According to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, more than 1,200 adults were put into one of three diet groups. One followed a Mediterranean diet and ate an ounce of nuts (mainly walnuts) daily, a second followed a Mediterranean diet and consumed a liter of olive oil every week, and a third served as a control. Only the group eating nuts decreased their abdominal fat.
Plenty of other studies point to nuts as a waist-friendly addition to your diet, as long as you don’t go overboard. Think of nuts as a “condiment” and not a meal. Chalk it up to their fiber, their protein, and their “good” fat, which may increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, aiding weight loss. Walnuts are one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds provide extra benefit in the form of fat-busting calcium.
Secret belly-fat burner: Omega-3s
Eating fat might sound like a crazy idea when you’re trying to lose fat, but getting more omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish like salmon could be just what the diet doctor ordered, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, omega-3 fatty acids reduce fat mass. Other studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids make you feel less hungry and more satisfied up to two hours after eating a fatty fish meal. Aim to eat salmon at least twice a week.
Secret belly-fat burner: Anthocyanins
In a study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, rats on either high-fat or low-fat diets that got just 2% of their calories from blueberry powder for 90 days all lost abdominal fat, though the fat loss was greater in rats on the low-fat diet. Anthocyanins—phytonutrients in blueberries—may have an effect on genes that regulate fat metabolism. One cup of blueberries a day might have similar results in people.
Belly fat doesn’t have take residence on your body. The key is to take small steps daily to change your eating routine and incorporate exercise for positive results.