Ask people one thing they’d change about themselves and many will say their abs. Belly fat becomes even more problematic with age. Not only does tummy blubber keep you from looking buff in a bikini, deep abdominal fat, called visceral fat, increases your risk for health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. High-intensity exercise is one way to burn away belly flab, but diet plays an equally, if not more important, role in keeping your tummy trim. Need some guidance? Here are five ways to fight belly fat through diet.
Cut Back on Refined Carbs
Carbs aren’t the enemy when it comes to controlling belly fat – it’s the TYPE of carbs most people eat. Eating a diet rich in refined carbs, including white bread, white rice and sugary foods, causes spikes in insulin that promotes fat storage. There’s no need to go on an Atkin’s diet to keep belly fat under control. Instead, choose unrefined carbohydrates and fiber-rich vegetables in place of the refined carbs you’re currently eating. Eating fiber-rich carbs blunts the insulin response after a meal, fills you up more quickly and keeps you full longer. That’s a good thing for your waistline!.
Eat Good Fats
Interest in low-fat has dwindled as people realize that fat-free or low-fat foods aren’t as filling or satisfying as foods that contain healthy fats. Fat slows down how quickly food empties from your stomach. This increases satiety. Fat-free and low-fat foods contain more insulin-spiking sugar as well. There’s even evidence that replacing saturated fat with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats can help you fight the battle of the bulging tummy.
Good sources of monounsaturated fat include olive oil, avocados and nuts. There’s more good news about monounsaturated fat. It helps to lower LDL-cholesterol, the bad form of cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Monounsaturated fats are also usually a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin that helps to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage.
Boost the Fiber Content of Your Diet
If you’re like most people, you don’t get enough fiber in your diet. How much do you need? If you’re a female, you should get at least 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 38 grams daily. Why is fiber important for fighting belly fat? It keeps you full longer and boosts insulin sensitivity. This means your pancreas doesn’t have to pump out as much insulin after you eat a meal. That’s a good thing since insulin helps your body store fat. Cutting back or eliminating refined carbohydrates and replacing them with fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains will boost your fiber content significantly – and help you shed belly fat.
Eat Probiotic-Rich Yogurt
Enjoy a serving of plain yogurt with active cultures each day to get a grip on belly fat. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants that drank fermented milk containing probiotics for 3 months lost significant amounts of belly fat – all without exercising or otherwise changing their diet. There’s another benefit to eating a container of yogurt daily. Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, and there’s some evidence that bone-building calcium also helps to keep belly fat at bay. In fact, based on information presented in the journal Obesity Research, calcium is important for weight management and for managing belly fat.
Eliminate Sugary Beverages
Some people don’t count the calories they get from their favorite beverages. Sugary beverages including soft drinks and even fruit juice causes insulin spikes that can wreak havoc with your waistline. Water and unsweetened tea, especially green tea, are more waistline-friendly choices.
The Bottom Line?
Combine these five dietary changes with an exercise program, and you’ll be well on your way to liking what you see when you put on a swimsuit.
WebMD. “Too Much White Bread Giving You a Big Belly?”
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;64(6):636-43.
Obesity Research (2004) 12, 582-590; doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.67.