Darn that pesky belly fat. It’s ugly. It’s embarrassing. It’s uncomfortable. It’s always getting in the way. It makes your clothes fit too tight in all the wrong places. It drives you crazy. And worst of all, it’s downright dangerous!
You see, excess belly fat isn’t just unsightly, humiliating, and irritating. It’s a surefire sign that your health is in serious danger. Excess belly fat negatively affects metabolic function, insulin sensitivity, heart health, and sleep. It also contributes to unhealthy levels of inflammation and leptin resistance.
It’s a big deal, and that’s why I want to help you slash belly fat, and a good place to start is by adding more of these foods that burn belly fat to your diet.
Editor’s Note: The 4 Best Foods to Eat Before Bed
7 Foods That Burn Belly Fat
1. Table Push-Aways
Ladies and gentlemen, please step away from the table. Hey, it’s Captain Obvious, and I’m here to tell you that overeating (especially highly palatable junk foods) is a major contributor to packing on abdominal fat. On the other hand, reduced-calorie diets that are higher in protein and lower in carbs are markedly effective at dropping belly fat.
You know what works even better than diet? Diet PLUS exercise. That’s right, when you combine them, they work better at reducing belly fat than either by itself.
Seafood can be an excellent source of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, all-star fats that help boost mood, reduce stress, and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases belly fat storage.
More Benefits of Omega-3
In one study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that participants who consumed EPA and DHA (either by adding seafood or a supplement) along with a reduced-calorie diet lost more weight and inches from their waistlines (a measurement of abdominal fat) than diet alone. Additional research has shown that EPA and DHA reduce waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. And when combined with diet and/or exercise, EPA and DHA lead to even better results making it an awesome addition to our foods that burn belly fat.
Each week, aim to eat at least two servings of any of the following seafood options, which are highest in omega-3s, lowest in mercury, and sustainably caught:
- Wild Salmon
- Pacific Sardines
- Atlantic Mackerel
- Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught)
Oysters, anchovies, and pollock are also good choices; however, there may be some sustainability concerns with these options.
3. Organic Pasture-Raised Meat and Dairy
While seafood is the best source of EPA and DHA, meat and dairy also contain these special fats. But there’s a caveat.
Surely you’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Guess what? That applies to animals too, and the meat and milk from organic pasture-raised cows are up to 50% higher in omega-3 fats than their conventional counterparts.
But that’s not all. Happy, healthy cows that spend their days in green pastures also produce meat and milk that’s considerable higher in another important fat called conjugated linoleic acid (or, CLA for short), which has been shown to improve body composition and reduce belly fat.
Super Belly Fat Burning Combo:
Now, when you shop dairy, try to abandon the old-school low-fat or nonfat mindset. Research tells us that people who consume more dairy carry less belly fat, but here’s the icing on the cake: a high intake of full-fat dairy is even more strongly associated with less belly fat.
4. Coconut Oil
What can’t coconut oil do? As a first-time parent, that’s the question I was asking our midwife recently. Cradle cap? Check. Diaper rash? Check. Baby acne? Check. Teething pain? Check. Massage oil? Check. The list goes on and on…and it can even help with reducing belly fat.
But wait, don’t rub it on your belly and expect the fat to magically disappear. You’ll be left with an oily mess—and the same amount of abdominal fat to boot.
Coconut oil contains special types of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The body doesn’t like to store these fats. Instead, it prefers to burn them off as energy. What makes MCTs one of the foods that burn belly fat is the fact they can help reduce appetite, boost metabolism, and increase fat burning.
In other words, they can help you eat less and burn more calories. In the real world, that means less fat stored and more fat burned. Not surprisingly, research has shown that when participants added two tablespoons of coconut oil to their diets daily for 4 – 12 weeks, they slashed belly fat significantly.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, or ACV as the cool kids call it, has been used as a weight-loss aid since the early 1800s. And it’s thought to flex its fat-burning muscle through its “carb-blocking” properties and by suppressing appetite.
ACV is probably best known for its beneficial effects on glycemic control. Studies have shown that taking as little as two teaspoons of ACV along with a carbohydrate-containing meal significantly improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the glycemic response.
Bonus Carb Intake Tip
ACV has also been shown to reduce hunger, increase feelings of fullness, and reduce food intake at subsequent meals. One study showed that adding ACV to a carbohydrate-containing meal led to participants eating 250 fewer calories over the course of the day. In one 12-week study, folks taking ACV daily for 12 weeks lost significantly more weight and belly fat than the placebo group. This makes it a staple on our foods that burn belly fat list.
ACV shots, anyone?
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat…the less belly fat you have. We all know that doesn’t rhyme and isn’t quite how the ol’ children’s song ends, but the fact of that matter is beans are one of the best dietary sources of soluble fiber, which may help fight belly fat.
In a recent study published in the journal Obesity, researchers at Wake Forest University set out to examine what lifestyle factors were associated with changes in abdominal fat over the course of a 5-year study period. Of all the factors they analyzed, they found soluble fiber intake and participation in vigorous activity were inversely associated with visceral belly fat. In fact, for each 10-gram-per-day increase in soluble fiber, the amount of belly fat decreased by a remarkable 3.7%.
You must think I’ve gone bananas including this on the list. After all, bananas are loaded with sugar, and that’s one of the worst possible things you could eat if you’re looking to drop belly fat.
Au contraire, mon frère.
Bananas, more specifically green unripe bananas, contain a very special type of non-digestible carbohydrate called resistant starch, which the popular media has hyped as a “weight-loss wonder food.” I don’t know about that, but research has shown that resistant starch reduces hunger, increases feelings of satisfaction, reduces food intake, increases fat burning, decreases fat storage, and improves insulin sensitivity. Even more, research from the University of Colorado shows that resistant starch can significantly reduce belly fat.
Sign me up please!
Burn, Baby, Burn
Belly fat is evil. It’s unsightly, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. And worst of all, it’s downright dangerous. Now, while eating more of these foods that burn belly fat will be a step in the right direction, to complete your belly-fat-slashing arsenal, you’ll need to dial in your overall diet, ramp up your physical activity, and manage stress with activities like yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, and forest bathing. Take it one step at a time, and watch that belly fat burn, baby burn!
AVOID these fruits and veggies: