Do you know about the best food for a flat belly Learn how to lose weight and get toned by eating foods that help fight fat and build lean muscle, without spending hours at the gym. Learn how to lose weight and get toned by eating foods that help fight fat and build lean muscle, without spending hours at the gym? Learn how your body responds to food, what foods burn more calories than others (even when you’re at rest), why tracking your intake is important, and most importantly—what kinds of foods should be avoided to see a flat belly in just a few weeks!
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Food For Flat Belly
If you’re Googling “foods for the flat stomach”, the likelihood is you’re looking to lose stomach fat and want to know what foods to be piling your plate with to make sure you’re getting the best results.
FYI, there is no such thing as a flat stomach food per se – rather, there is a range of nutrient-dense foods high in antioxidants and micronutrients that are key to boosting your overall health and may help you stay full while maintaining the all-important calorie deficit key for any fat loss (more on that later).
While there’s no doubt there’s unnecessary societal pressure for women to lose weight, excess stomach fat, in particular, can pose a high health risk. Just last year, a Journal of the American Heart Association study found that, for women, carrying excess stomach fat, rather than carrying weight all over, could be worse for their heart health.
Studying 500,000 people aged 40 to 69 in the UK, the research found that women who carried more stomach fat had a 10% to 20% greater risk of suffering from a heart attack than those who carried weight all over.
Visceral fat, otherwise known as the fat that lies below your skin and cushions your organs, can actually play a part in a whole variety of harmful health conditions, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and breast cancer.
Keen to lose a little stomach fat? Know this: if you eat healthily most of the time and don’t have a perfectly flat stomach, all three experts confirm you likely have nothing to worry about and don’t need to lose fat. However, if you are keen to make some lifestyle changes and think losing weight will boost both your physical and mental health, qualified experts are your best starting point. Weight loss is a very personal journey and will vary from individual to individual.
Don’t miss our guides to diet fads, weight loss tips, and a decider on the best weight loss workout, while you’re here.
Flat stomach foods: so, do they exist?
First things first: there is a whole load of things that affect how women carry fat, and particularly, how we carry stomach fat. There are factors you can’t control, like your genetics, hormones, and metabolism, and then, of course, the things you can mix up, such as your daily movement and what foods you’re eating.
So, can what foods you eat affect your levels of stomach fat? Sure – but it’s not quite called that. “While some foods are more nutritionally dense and beneficial for your overall health than others, I wouldn’t say there’s such thing as a “flat stomach food””, shares Lauren Windas, registered nutritionist at Ardere.
“However, in order to achieve a flat stomach and the body composition you desire, your focus should be on eating in a healthy calorie deficit and enjoying a balanced nutritious diet, as well as strength training, running, or exercising regularly,” she goes on.
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1. Green leafy vegetables
Windas recommends kale, spinach, and chard. “While being low in calories, these vegetables are packed full of quality nutrition; plenty of vitamins and minerals that are supportive for our immune system and our overall health,” she shares.
Nutritionist Lorna Driver-Davies from NutriCentre agrees, adding that eating plenty of greens will help by keeping your bowels moving. Her favourites are broccoli, green beans, and spinach.
Windas also recommends you include plenty of protein in your weight loss plan to help keep you satiated for long periods of time. “Eggs are high in protein and also very cost-effective,” she explains.
Nutritionist doctor Marilyn Glenville adds here that the research agrees. “Research showed that leucine, one of the essential amino acids found in eggs, can help with weight loss by stabilising blood sugar levels and encouraging the body to shed fat,” she shares.
Keen to up your intake of vegan protein? Here are some examples of vegan protein sources to include in your diet, if you follow a plant based diet. Not sure what protein actually is? Our guide explains.
Aka, is porridge good for you if you’re looking to lose weight? Oh yes. “Oats are a great staple to begin your day with,” Windas explains. The nutritionist explains that they’re a great source of fibre, which keeps you fuller for longer and helps to stabilise your energy levels for long periods of time. “They make an ideal choice for those looking to lose weight because you remain satiated and therefore don’t tend to snack throughout the rest of your morning,” she adds.
Remember to add a form of protein – think yoghurt, protein powder, nuts or seeds – for full muscle repair and satiety. Still stuck for ideas? Our round-up of the healthy breakfast ideas might help.
Fun fact: Windas always recommends dusting some cinnamon over porridge or a snack, particularly for those who have a sweet tooth. Why? Well, because cinnamon has been shown to reduce sugar cravings and has a naturally sweet taste itself, helping to curb that sweet tooth and consumption of energy-dense high sugar foods.
Bloat a lot? “It’s also great for digestion, is anti-fungal, and will keep your sugar cravings at bay,” adds Driver-Davies. Don’t miss our explainer on what causes bloating, if that’s you.
Berries are a great go-to fruit because you can enjoy them for snacking or adding to a slice of toast or porridge, explains Windas.
“Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and cranberries are all very high in antioxidants and are a low GI fruit,” she explains. “This means they score low on the glycaemic index (GI) and metabolise into sugar in the bloodstream much slower than other fruits.” Neat.
6. Wholemeal bread
Carbs aren’t the enemy and, ultimately, provide your body with the energy it needs to survive. “Wholegrain alternatives are arguably better than white, as they release energy more slowly,” says Glenville.
7. Healthy fats
Think avocado, chia seeds, flax, olive oil and nuts.
“Getting enough good oils in your diet can be helpful for reducing bloating – they help keep your bowels moving by lubricating your stools,” explains Driver-Davies.
“Fish is good quality protein,” explains doctor Glenville. “It slows down the rate that the stomach processes food and delays the passage of the carbohydrates through it,” she shares.
Fun fact: as soon as you add a protein (be it animal or vegetable) to a carbohydrate, you change it into a slower releasing carbohydrate, which will keep your sugar levels steady and energy up.
No, you don’t need to eat it on the reg, but celery is a great veg to snack on and include in meals, if you like it, as it’s high in potassium, which can help ease bloating, explains Driver-Davies.
As above on the point of the healthy fat, nuts can be a good food to include in your diet if you’re looking to lose weight as they contain – yep, you guessed it – healthy fats.
Just be careful with portion size. They are high in calories, so can halt weight loss efforts if overeaten.
Flat Belly Food
If your belly is sapping your body confidence, don’t despair. There’s a good chance you don’t even need to lose belly fat—you might just be bloated! This is especially true if you’re a woman over the age of 40 since one of the worst culprits for belly bloat is a slow digestive system—a problem that worsens as we age.
The good news is that beating bloat, easing digestion, and bringing back your flat belly can be achieved with a few simple food swaps and lifestyle tweaks. Incorporate the following flat belly foods and menu swaps into your routine, and your clothes should fit more comfortably within just a few days.
Eat: Two kinds of fiber
Why it beats belly bloat: Constipation distends your belly, but one easy way to get rid of it is by starting each morning with a breakfast that guarantees your body a daily dose of fiber. This gets the digestive system moving within a day or so and keeps it that way. Based on a study of breakfast cereals, University of Toronto researchers say that consuming two kinds of fiber at once is most effective.
The scientists found that participants had an easier time staying regular with a cereal that contained both bulky insoluble fiber and gel-like soluble fiber. The two types work together to pull water into your colon and speed up elimination, explains Joanne Slavin, PhD, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota. The result? You look and feel lighter.
Do this: You’ll find both types of fiber in oatmeal. No time to cook a batch before heading out the door? Try these delicious overnight oats recipes.
Skip: Refined carbs
Why it beats belly bloat: Loading up on white bread, pasta, or sugary baked goods is a surefire path to bloatsville. Why? “The body breaks refined carbs down into glucose, or sugar, very quickly,” explains nutrition expert Amy Shapiro, RD. Some of that glucose gets used as energy, but whatever you don’t need right away gets stored in the muscles and liver for later. The problem? “When we store glucose, we store each molecule along with two molecules of water,” Shapiro says. That’s a recipe for water retention, which can leave you feeling puffy.
Eat: Potassium-rich foods
Why they beat belly bloat: High-potassium fare helps your body get rid of excess water weight, minimizing your middle. The extra fluid is typically present because the two main minerals that control the amount of water in your body—potassium and sodium—have gotten out of balance. When your sodium level is too high, your tissues hold on to more fluid.
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Drink: Peppermint tea
Why it beats belly bloat: Sip the herbal brew when a big meal leaves your belly feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. Peppermint helps speed digestion thanks to compounds that promote muscle contractions in the gut, findings show. “I use it all the time to ease indigestion and gas,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color.