Ready to break up with your love handles?
Whittling your waistline requires a proper diet and exercise, but there are some foods that could help trim your midsection more quickly than others —and they could already be in your fridge.
READ: 10 Foods to Beat Belly Bloat
“When it comes to your diet, selecting healthy foods that are lower in fat, and higher in fiber and protein, can help keep you fuller longer, and on track to creating a healthier body,” explains Grace Derocha, dietitian and diabetes educator at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
The key to achieving a smaller midsection? While there's no magical dish that will target weight loss in any specific part of the body, health experts say you should stock up on foods that contain lots of fiber to curb cravings and promote digestion.
We asked several health experts to weigh in on the best waist-trimming foods you can find at the supermarket:
Berries can help curb cravings for dessert, all while keeping you full during the day. Derocha, calls them “nature’s version of fast foods,” and likes them because they can easily add a hint of sweetness to your dishes and can also be incorporated in smoothies or salads. “Fresh berries are high in vitamins and minerals, and although they do contain sugar, their high fiber slows digestion and makes them a reliable source of energy.” Choose fresh, ripe berries over canned fruit, as they’re can often be loaded with sugary syrup.
Chia seeds are a must-have, especially when it comes to whittling the waistline, says founder of Tonique Fitness Sylwia Wiesenberg. “Chia seeds are a superfood that will help you lose fat around your midsection,” she explains. “It energizes your body with its rich source of protein. It also keeps you feeling full longer, allowing you to become more regular. This means you won’t store extra food in your system, causing you to feel bloated and look heavier.” Wiesenberg advises adding chia seeds to your oatmeal, salads or smoothies.
SEE: The Miracle Food You're (Probably) Not Eating
Health coach Dr. Lori Shemek recommends adding peppers to your meal. “Consuming hot peppers in just one single spicy meal or 30 minutes before a meal can boost your metabolism by up to 25 percent, with the spike in calorie burning lasting for up to 3 hours after you finish eating, along with feeling less hungry,” says Shemek.
Kale has become a popular ingredient in many dishes, and with all it's health benefits, it's not hard to see why. Kale is "a rich source of vital vitamin K, which is anti-inflammatory and helps you stay less bloated,” says Wiesenberg.
READ: Easy Ways to Add Kale to Your Diet
Unlike other legumes, lentils cook faster, which saves you time in whipping up a satisfying meal. “Legumes, like lentils, are rich in fiber and protein and lower in fat,” says Derocha. “They make a great side dish or a delicious main entrée for a vegetarian meal.”
“Whole grains, like quinoa, are a great addition to meals with chicken, fish or vegetables,” says Derocha. “It can make any dish heartier without adding too many calories.”
Nourishing protein is essential because muscles burn fat, including that dreaded belly pooch. But how much do you need? Carol Cottrill, author of “The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management,” says to multiply your current weight by 0.4. “If you’re 150 pounds, that’s 60 grams of protein per day,” she explains. While protein could be found in salmon and peanut butter, Cottrill likes to kick off her day with two scrambled eggs for breakfast. “You’ll consume 14 grams from that alone,” she says.
Toss aside the plain yellow mustard. “Research from England’s Oxford Polytechnic Institute says eating just one teaspoon of brown or spicy hot mustard can boost the metabolism 20 to 25 percent for several hours after eating,” explains Shemek. Just one teaspoon can help speed up your metabolic rate.
Watermelon can be especially helpful to shed water weight before and during PMS, says Wiesenberg, who also credits it for helping her feel slimmer. “Watermelons are a natural diuretic that’s rich in minerals and vitamins,” she says. “They’re perfect to snack on or as an addition to your smoothie."
Loreck says she highly advises women to eat yogurt as a snack alternative to slim down belly fat. “Yogurt contains probiotics, which boost the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract,” she explains. However, she advises to skip the flavored versions as they tend to have a lot of sugar. Instead, look for plain, protein-rich Greek yogurt, which you can jazz up with fresh fruit, a touch of honey, or chia seeds.