Excess fat often sinks to the belly, and this can cause health issues beyond physical appearance. According to the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, excess abdominal fat is associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, this fat is hard to shed.
Although one food can't reduce all belly fat, a combination of fat-fighting ingredients can work wonders for your health. If you cook with certain oils, add a little spice, or choose the right late-night snack, your abdominal fat may shrink over time. Check out these science-backed foods before you plan your weight loss diet.
You'll Want The Fiber In Artichokes
In 2018, a study in Pharmacological Research suggested that cooked artichokes help people maintain a healthy body weight. The researchers credited artichoke's unique form of fiber, inulin. This fiber promotes healthy gut bacteria, and yes, this affects belly fat.
In 2016, a study in Genome Biology noted that people with healthy gut bacteria are less likely to store excess belly fat. Plus, one artichoke provides seven grams of fiber at only 25 calories. Registered Dietitian Kim Kirchherr told Women's Health that artichoke could support healthy weight management.
The Spicier, The Better
After hearing this news, you may want to spice up your meals. A study published in Obesity Open Access reported the effects of a chili pepper extract eaten every day. According to the researchers, chili pepper burned an extra 116 calories per day, which is an extra pound over 30 days.
Chili's magic ingredient is capsaicin, the compound that gives the pepper its spice. Capsaicin reduces peoples' appetite and raises feelings of fullness. And according to research in the Biophysical Journal, chili peppers can also increase metabolism, leading to further fat loss.
A Little Soup Goes A Long Way
Eating a liquid-based meal has a different effect on your body than a solid meal. According to research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, soup makes people feel fuller than solid meals. The fuller you feel, the fewer calories you eat overall, which can help you lose weight.
But this doesn't mean that you have to eat soup for every meal. In 2007, scientists at Penn State found that eating soup before a meal limits how many calories you consume. A small bowl of soup before your entrée could do wonders for belly fat.
Eat Cottage Cheese Late At Night
If you're a late-night snacker, you may want to know about this fat-fighter food. In 2018, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition analyzed participants who ate cottage cheese before bed. Eating two tablespoons of cottage cheese 30 minutes before bed aided weight loss in participants.
Why cottage cheese? Its protein, casein, releases into the body slowly and builds muscle. As a result, participants burned more energy overnight than they did while eating nothing at all. If you're craving a late-night snack, reach for cottage cheese.
Cook With Olive Oil
With 119 calories per tablespoon, olive oil may seem like a weight gainer — but it's not. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition tracked people consuming olive oil for three years. The participants lost body weight and also had a higher amount of antioxidants in their blood.
This is why some experts recommend the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil. In 2004, Spanish researchers reported that a traditional Mediterranean diet significantly lowers weight and helps BMI. If you're aiming to lose belly fat, try cooking with olive oil.
Dried Seaweed Helps Weight Loss
If you want to lose belly fat, incorporate more seaweed into your diet. In some studies, seaweed has shown promise as a fat-fighter. A 2006 animal study reported that seaweed shrank belly fat in mice by up to 10%. A compound in seaweed, called fucoxanthin, helped to convert belly fat to heat.
According to another study by Newcastle University, researchers found that seaweed prevents fat absorption by 75%. In short, nutrients in commercial seaweed stop the body from absorbing fat, which may prevent weight gain in the long run.
For Sweeter Weight Loss Meals, Use Cinnamon
If you want a sweet-tasting weight-loss food, add cinnamon to your meals. In 2017, scientists from the University of Michigan analyzed cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil in cinnamon. During the study, this oil kickstarted thermogenesis, the process which burns fat into energy.
Dr. Jun Wu, the study's lead author, said that cinnamon positively impacted metabolism and "[could] help protect against obesity." During another study published in 2010, participants felt fuller after eating cinnamon. All of these features mean that a sprinkle of cinnamon may combat belly fat.
Respect The Raspberries
Don't let the fructose in raspberries fool you. Natural sugars are different from added sugars, and raspberries contain enough water and fiber to reduce belly fat. In 2016, research from Harvard University concluded that flavonoid-rich foods prevent weight gain. Raspberries are an outstanding source of flavonoids.
Plus, raspberries are rich in soluble fibers. According to a 2012 study in Obesity, eating 10 grams more of soluble fiber can shrink belly fat by 3.7%. One cup of raspberries offers eight grams of fiber, which makes a huge difference in weight loss.
Pu-Erh Tea Is Unique
Pu-erh tea is made from the same plant as black, green, and oolong teas, but it undergoes a process called "post-fermentation." This unique tea is popular in China, and scientists have found health benefits for the rest of the world. For instance, research in the Clinical Interventions of Aging reported that Pu-erh promotes "significant weight loss."
Other research stemmed from animal studies, such as a 2011 trial in Phytotherapy Research. Scientists believe that the tea attacks fat tissue and harmful cholesterol, both of which contribute to belly fat.
How Eggs Fight Off Belly Fat
Eggs are easy to cook and offer six grams of protein at only 78 calories. Plus, eggs may help people lose weight more than other foods. In 2005, a study in the International Journal of Obesity compared a breakfast of bagels to two eggs, both of which had the same number of calories. Those who ate eggs lost 34% of belly fat and 65% more weight overall.
Nutrition coach and trainer Andrea Wise recommends eggs as a fat-fighting breakfast. According to her, the protein will prevent you from crashing later in the day, and the vitamins D and B12 (mainly in the yolk) can help your body burn fat.
More Beans, Less Fat
During a 2016 study, researchers gave participants 3/4 cup of beans per day. That small serving helped people feel fuller by 31%, which contributed to weight loss, according to the report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Because beans provide fiber and nutrition, they limit your calorie intake and prevent added belly fat.
The results don't just come from black beans. The study observed pulses, the dried seeds in the legume branch, which exist in peas, chickpeas, and lentils as well. So you don't have to eat the same beans every day to notice results.
Enjoy A Handful Of Almonds
With their healthy fats and high protein, nuts snugly fit into a healthy diet. In particular, almonds can help people lose weight. In 2015, researchers from the American Heart Association handed participants 1.5 ounces of almonds per day. After 12 weeks, the participants had less belly fat.
Researchers at Penn State conducted a similar study with almonds. Not only did they notice less belly fat after two months, but also less leg and waist fat. Plus, scientists noted better cholesterol levels in those who ate almonds. It's a win-win situation!
Eat More Yogurt
Although scientists debate the relationship between weight and milk, yogurt has clear fat-fighting abilities. Researchers from the University of Tennessee monitored participants who ate fat-free yogurt with every meal. Eventually, those who ate the yogurt lost 81% more belly fat and 22% more total weight than those who didn't.
One of yogurt's greatest perks is its high amount of vitamin C. According to scientists at the University of Knoxville, vitamin C helps weight loss. It encourages fat breakdown and increases the body's metabolism. That's another good reason to eat more yogurt!
Bananas Can Curb Your Appetite And Burn Body Fat
Bananas are a quick grab-and-go food with some major benefits. This fruit is rich in healthy fibers which can help burn body fat while also keeping you feel fuller, longer. Bananas contain indigestible fibers which signal to the body to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
This fruit gets a bad reputation for being high in carbohydrates, but in moderation bananas are a healthy food option if you're aiming to burn body fat.
The Grapefruit Diet Has Some Backing
The grapefruit diet claims to boost your metabolism if you drink grapefruit juice at every meal. While there's little evidence that grapefruit increases metabolism, it may shrink belly fat. In 2014, a study in Food and Nutrition Research reported that people who ate more grapefruit lost more weight. They also shed a noticeable amount of belly fat.
These results stemmed less from metabolism and more from grapefruit's low calories and high fiber. That said, there is some evidence for the grapefruit diet. Researchers at Scripps Clinic noted that people who followed the grapefruit diet lost an average of 3.3 pounds over 12 weeks.
Garlic Makes Food Tastier And Healthier
If you're a fan of garlic, you're in luck. In The Journal of Nutrition, a 2011 study reported that garlic cut weight in obese mice. Another study, this time observing women in Nutrition Research and Practice, reported the same result from garlic extract.
The ability to fight belly fat may come from garlic's compound, allicin, which reduces inflammation in the stomach. But scientists still aren't sure why these results appear. Fortunately, it's easy to incorporate garlic into healthy meals for an extra weight loss boost.
Avocados Kickstart Metabolism
Although avocados contain fat, they are "healthy fats" that help people lose weight. In 2019, a study in Nutrients found that pairing avocado with meals helped participants lose weight. During the study, avocado helped participants feel fuller and lose some pounds. However, there is some liability in that the Hass Avocado Board funded the research.
Plus, avocados may boost your metabolism. According to a 2017 scientific review in Phytotherapy Research, avocados helped metabolism so well that they could impact metabolic syndrome. You can thank avocado's unique fatty acids for this benefit.
Replace Cereal With Oatmeal
Oats perfectly fit into a weight loss diet, especially if you aim to annihilate belly fat. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, eating two portions of oat cereal per day shrank participants' waists. Oddly, it did not change total weight; but it noticeably reduced belly fat.
Oats can pull this off by increasing satiety. According to Harvard Health, oats have a unique fiber called beta-glucan, which thickens the food in your gut. This slows down digestion and makes people feel fuller. No wonder oatmeal is so filling!
If you can find a way to incorporate ginger into your diet, you should! Ginger contains gingerols and shogaols compounds which help stimulate your body to speed up the digestion process.
Research has also found that ginger eases several side effects of obesity, like inflammation and negative cardiovascular effects. Easing side effects that cause discomfort can help increase mobility and comfort in people who are aiming to lose weight who are already overweight.
Tart Or Sweet, Cherries Work Wonders
Cherries have contributed to weight loss in animal studies. In 2008, scientists from the University of Michigan reported that rats who ate cherries lost more belly fat than rats on a "Western" diet. According to the researchers, tart cherries may alter fat genes in the body (for the better, of course).
These results aren't only visible in rats. In 2018, Australian researchers tested cherry's weight loss effects on people. Participants who ate sweet cherries daily lost 19% more body fat than those who didn't.
Blueberries For The Belly
Here's another berry that could fight belly fat: blueberries. In 2009, a study presented at Experimental Biology said that rats who ate blueberries lost belly weight, even those on a high-fat diet. The researchers credit blueberry's antioxidants, which encourages the body to translate sugar into energy instead of fat.
Blueberries also contain unique flavonoids, such as anthocyanin. According to the journal Advances in Nutrition, a diet high in anthocyanins can contribute to 9% fat loss. Even without the flavonoids, blueberries show promise in shrinking abdominal fat.
Go For Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a perfect example of why people shouldn't fear carbs. Although they're considered a carbohydrate, they help people lose weight, according to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Sweet potato shrinks fat cells, say the researchers, and it helps people feel fuller.
Sweet potatoes also provide a unique kind of starch called resistant starch. According to a 2015 study in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, resistant starch can fight obesity and increase metabolism. If you want to shed belly fat, you'll benefit from both effects.