Eat Your Way To A Flat Stomach – Foods To Eat/Foods To Avoid

So in the past few months you have become the Captain of Cardio and an all around Planking Prodigy. But still, if you tried to scrub a pair of drawers on your stomach the process may be more akin to lathering a beach ball, rather than scouring a sexy washboard. Trust me, I feel you, I’d rather use a washing machine anyways. The problem is that you are not yet an Eating Expert, so I’m here to help with 4 food groups to add to your diet, another 3 to avoid as much as possible, and a few bonus tips, because you deserve it.

INCREASE Intake of:

1. Fiber

One study followed over 1100 people for 5 years looking for lifestyle factors that contributed specifically to abdominal fat. Of all the foods studied, the one most significantly associated with the loss of belly fat was fiber. For every 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten per day, belly fat was reduced by 4% after 5 years.

Soluble fiber (from psyllium) has metabolically active by-products. It has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and prevent heart disease. Sources include: bananas, apples, berries, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, beans, and grains such as oats and barley.

Insoluble fiber (from bran) simply just absorbs water and creates bulk, speeding food’s passage through the gut. Sources include: whole grain food, nuts and seeds, vegetables such as celery and zucchini, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables.

Both types of fiber are important, as they work together to make us feel more full (without adding calories) and aid in digestion to keep away bloat. It is also possible that dietary fiber is able to funnel fat to be stored in more favourable areas than the belly. [1] [2]

2. Avocado

Avocados are packed with amazing amounts of nutrients, but I have also heard they are full of fats. Although the word “fat” scares us all, there are some fats out there that don’t actually make us gain weight (holy guacamole!). These are the monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) found in avocados, nuts such as pistachios, nut butters, and olive oil. Increasing your intake of monounsaturated fats improves glycemic control and insulin sensitivity, which means that they decrease weight gain and the risk of diabetes. The nutrient absorption from avocados also leaves you feeling fuller for longer. [3]

3. Probiotic Yogurt

The word probiotic, when broken down from Greek, literally means “that which promotes life.” The WHO defines a probiotic as any living microorganism that has a health benefit when ingested. These little bacteria friends have so many cool functions inside the body, one of which is aiding in digestive health. They function in the gut to promote the experience of less gas, bloating, or constipation, which will also leave your tummy looking a lot flatter.

Lactose Intolerant? Try kefir, its an even better source of probiotics than yogurt, and has been shown to ease lactose intolerance symptoms in some adults.

Vegan? Sauerkraut, miso, pickles, kimchi, and Kombucha tea are also rich in probiotics, when found unpasteurized.
[4][5]

4. Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are another example of the “good fats” that we need in order to live long and healthy. They belong to a category known as polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), or “polys” if you’re down with the lingo. Mackerel, salmon, or tuna are some of the best seafood sources of omega-3s. Overweight people who ate fish daily had a more stabilized blood sugar response, thereby reducing their risk for diabetes (holy mackerel! … sorry, I had to). If you don’t fancy fish: flaxseed oil, walnuts, chia seeds, and egg yolks are also great sources of the omega-3s that will promote fat burning and prevent cravings. [6][7]

DECREASE intake of:

1. Sodium

Canadians eat an average of 3,400mg of sodium per day, over half of the recommended amount of 1,500mg. Our bodies need sodium to survive, but only about a pinch of it daily, overdoing the salt can lead to high blood pressure, kidney disease, and a host of other illnesses. Sodium also causes you to retain water, making you look puffy and bloated, and hiding all of your sought after “gainz.” According to Health Canada almost a quarter of our sodium comes from bread-like products and processed meats, so keep your intake of these to a minimum. Additionally, don’t salt your food at the table, and always check the sodium content of packaged food, even if the food doesn’t taste salty, sodium can still be hiding there. [8]

2. Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbs include processed sugars such as: sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and agave syrup, which are all empty calories that obviously contribute to weight gain. The second major source of bad carbs is from white flour made from refined wheat. White breads are white because they have been stripped of everything good (the bran and the germ). Since they are left with no fiber content they are digested quickly and cause a quick spike in your blood sugar levels. Also, since they are high on the glycemic index they only promote short-term fullness and hence, future overeating. Opt instead for these healthy carb sources: fruits, legumes, root veggies, and whole grains such as oats and barley. Plus, try swapping a burger bun for a lettuce wrap or a Portobello mushroom cap, swap white rice for quinoa or whole grain rice, try zucchini spaghetti, and cauliflower pizza bases. [9][10]

3. Liquid Calories

These are sneaky, subtle, and exceptionally superfluous calories. One of the worst for our bellies is soda; not only are sodas packed with artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup, but the carbonated fizz fills your gut with air, making you gassy and bloated looking. The biggest calorie culprits out there are fancy coffee drinks, filled with unnecessary sugars from syrups, chocolates, and whole milk. Drink your coffee black to get all the health benefits without the extra belly fat. And, fruit juices, although they contain nutrients are also very high in sugar, and the ones from the store may contain artificial additives and preservatives that are bad for your health. The exception is obviously juicing your own fruits and veggies. The problem with liquid calories is that our bodies can’t differentiate between which calories come from food and which from beverages, so when you “drink your calories” you are subject to consuming them in excess because they didn’t make you feel full. [11]

BONUS TIPS: 

• Interval training has been shown very effective for reducing belly fat. Incorporate some HIIT into your routine.
• 150 minutes = the minimum amount of moderately intense exercise you need per week to start losing stomach fat.
• Don’t forget the water. But also incorporate green tea into your life, the antioxidants boost metabolism and help with weight loss.
• Get enough sleep. Abnormal sleep patterns increase levels of ghrelin (aka the hunger hormone), which subsequently increases weight gain.
• Decrease stress. Cortisol is a hormone released during stress that maintains blood glucose levels for the fight-or-flight response. Side effects of chronically increased cortisol levels include weight gain and inflammation.
[12][13]

Leave a Comment

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here