Obesity is a way-to-common problem in America and throughout the world.
In fact, according to the Nation Health Institute, in the United States (1):
- More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
- Over 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese.
- More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
- About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
- More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
Many of us are part of these statistics or have a loved one who is. That’s why it’s important to cut out foods that feed fat cells and indulge in foods that burn belly fat.
Beating the Blub
Having a little extra fat around the belly may seem pretty normal and harmless, but it directly correlates with some serious health problems in the long run.
Health risks include:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- some types of cancer: breast, colon, endometrial, and kidney
Being overweight involves an excess of fat under your skin (subcutaneous fat) as well as around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs (visceral fat) (2).
Visceral fat is the most unhealthy, and can even have a negative impact on inactive “skinny” people. Of course, the more extra weight you have, the more your body starts to store fat in unusual places.
Fat doesn’t just sit in your body, it actually stores toxins and can affect hormone balance. As Kristen Hairston, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine, puts it: fat makes “lots of nasty substances.”
16 Foods that Burn Belly Fat
Despite what you may think, losing weight isn’t achieved through salads alone. You can actually eat plenty of foods that burn belly fat that you already recognize and enjoy.
It goes without saying that you will also need to listen to your body’s natural hunger and sleep rhythms to curb cravings, increase energy, and burn fat.
Yogurt is an incredibly healthy food that contains plenty of protein, calcium, and probiotics. These nutrients all provide support to lose weight in a sustainable way.
In a study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, 75 healthy overweight and obese individuals completed a randomized double-blind controlled clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to regular yogurt (200 g/day yogurt) with a low-calorie diet or a probiotic yogurt a day without the diet for 8 weeks. Researchers found that the probiotic yogurt in addition to a low-calorie diet had a positive effect on fat percentage, and body weight among overweight and obese individuals (3).
This traditional breakfast food is a great addition to you weight loss journey because of its fiber content. In fact, oats prevent obesity and abdominal fat distribution and improve liver function in humans (4).
Furthermore, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating whole grain foods boost abdominal fat loss more than a grain-free low-calorie diet in middle-aged women (5).
Like oats, barley contains fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that slows digestion (6). In doing so, barley allows your body to absorb more nutrients, increase satiety, and reduce appetite (7).
In fact, one scientific review found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and an increase in weight loss (8). Barley makes a great addition to soups, so be sure to keep some in your pantry.
4. Green Tea
Green tea is a prime source of steady energy and antioxidants. It also contains catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which have the ability to boost weight loss and support weight management (9).
In part, these compounds work by increasing fat oxidation before exercise as well as 30-75 minutes after exercise (10). For best results, drink a hot cup of matcha tea 30-60 minutes before working out.
Eggs are a clean source of protein and vitamin b12. Protein increases energy expenditure during digestion, increases satiety, and increases muscle mass. Since muscles burn more calories than fat, increasing your muscle mass ensures long-term energy expenditure. B12, on the other hand, plays a role in fat and protein metabolism (11).
In fact, researchers at Louisiana State University found that people who ate eggs for breakfast 5+ days weekly lost more weight than those who ate bagels. During the 8-week study period, the egg diet group and bagel diet group both followed a 1000-calorie diet and ate their selected food daily. By the end of the study, the egg group experienced, on average, a 61% greater reduction in BMI, a 65% greater weight loss, a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference and a 16% greater reduction in percent body fat when compared to the bagel diet group (12).
6. Olive Oil
In a study on breast cancer survivors, an olive oil-enriched plant-based diet group experienced a greater weight loss than The National Cancer Institute’s diet group. The women in the olive oil group experienced a weight loss of at least 5% of baseline weight in just 8 weeks. Nearly all of the women in this group continued the olive oil diet for another 6 months after the study.
This just goes to show how satisfying the diet can be and how easy it is to follow. In fact, the researchers concluded that the plant-based olive oil diet was “more efficacious for weight loss in breast cancer survivors than a standard lower-fat diet.”(13)
Almonds are one of the best foods that burn belly fat, especially for women.
In a recent study, a total of 108 overweight and obese women were assigned in our 3-month randomized controlled trial in either a balanced hypocaloric diet with or without almonds. The almond group consumed 50 g of almonds daily.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), fasting blood sugar and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the almond group compared to the nut-free group.Additionally, the nut group improved their cardiovascular disease risk factors. The nut-free group, however, experienced an increase in systolic blood pressure and in bad cholesterol (17).
Getting enough magnesium lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are both associated with a larger waist (18,19). Full of magnesium, walnuts make a great fat-busting snack. Long-term nut consumption also correlates with a lower weight gain and less risk of overweight/obesity. They work by contributing to satiety and potentially improving long-term adherence to healthful diets (20).
Salmon, like flax seeds and olive oil, is high in healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 increases satiety and positively impacts your pineal gland, which affects the sleep hormone melatonin. By improving your sleep quality, omega-3s help prevent your body from storing energy as fat (21).
These delicious fruits may seem like a dessert, but they really are belly-busting! That’s because they contain anthocyanins, phytonutrients that have an effect on the genes that regulate fat and glucose metabolism. These phytonutrients also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition which makes you prone to energy shortages and increased body fat.
In fact, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor studied the effects of blueberries on rats. In the 90-day study, obesity-prone rats followed either a high-fat diet or low-fat diet supplemented with blueberry powder. Both groups lost abdominal fat, though the fat loss was greater in rats on the low-fat diet (22).
Tart cherry juice improved melatonin production in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. All subjects given the juice reported increases in time in bed and total sleep time as well as improved sleep efficiency (23). By improving sleep quality, tart cherries help your body use energy more effectively instead of storing it as fat. For best results, drink pure tart cherry juice (with no added sugars) 1-2 hours before bed.
Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat…the leaner you’ll be! These low-calorie protein-rich pulses contain resistant fiber, which helps clean your colon and slow digestion. Multiple studies have found that pulses like chickpeas, red beans, and whole peas have a positive effect on weight loss, blood sugar levels, satiety, and belly fat reduction (24). Enrich your fat-melting diet by taking at least 3 cups of pulses a week. They make a great addition to salads, soups, casseroles, baked goods (try pea flour), or even spreads, like hummus!
13. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter packs a punch of niacin, which improves digestion and prevents fatigue, a key cause of over-eating (25). The spread also helps you feel full and satisfied thanks to its content of protein and fats. This makes you less likely to snack mid-day and make unhealthy food choices. Just make sure to eat no more than 1-2 tablespoons a day (26).
This famous fruit contains plenty of monounsaturated foods and fiber. Actually, avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. People who tend to consume avocados make healthier foods choices, including consuming a significantly higher intake of vegetables, healthy fats, and vitamins. They also tend to consume fewer calories and sodium. In fact, avocado eaters are more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference (27).
This Japanese soup base, made from fermented soy, contains plenty of probiotics. The Korean version of the paste, called doenjang, is proven to reduce body weight, body fat mass, and body fat percentage. In particular, it has the ability to reduce visceral fat in both overweight men and women (28).
Sauerkraut is incredibly easy to make and contains plenty of healthy gut bacteria and enzymes. These nutrients improve gut health and nutrient absorption. Additionally, they improve cravings, balance stomach acids, reduce inflammation, and boost the production of digestion-related neurotransmitters. These effects all support weight loss and healthy digestion (29).
Now that you know what to eat, make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise and watch the pounds melt away. Most importantly, eat a few of these foods that burn belly fat every day.