Even if a Jillian Michaels-style six-pack isn’t on your wish list, odds are you’ve wanted flatter abs at one point or another, and swore up and down you’d start doing 1,000 crunches every day before bed. While spot-training your stomach muscles with moves like crunches and sit-ups can’t exactly hurt, a combination of cardio, strength training and eating right are really the only way to ditch pesky midsection fat. The good news: There are quite a lot of foods that can speed up the flat belly process without having to go on a strict diet.
Read on for 10 foods to eat for a flatter stomach now!
We all know that—much like carbs—certain fats are better for us than others. What you might not know, however, is that monounsaturated fat—a.k.a., the “good” fat—can flatten your abs! How? According to Self, blood sugar peaks can signal your body to store fat around your midsection, but monounsaturated fats stop the spikes, effectively stopping fat accumulation in its tracks.
In fact, dieters who consumed monounsaturated fats lost more stomach fat than those eating the same number of calories but less of the fats, a study in Diabetes Care journal found.
Not to mention, it also can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol (which lessens your risk of heart disease and stroke), and are usually high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin we all could use more of. Below, the top foods that feature monounsaturated fats.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The holy grail of monounsaturated fat, EVOO is literally brimming with health boosters apart from minimizing your gut, including anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular benefits, brain-boosting benefits, and many others. Opt for around two tablespoons a day—an easy feat if you drizzle it over fresh fish or veggies, or mix it with a little lemon juice, garlic, and spices to create the perfect salad dressing. However, in order to reap the benefits, you shouldn’t cook or heat up olive oil for several reasons, including the fact that chemical changes take place in its compound and could be harmful to eat and breathe.
Another monounsaturated fat superstar, avocados have many of the same health benefits as EVOO. However, they too are high in fat, so don’t eat more than a quarter of a cup a day.
In addition to being high in monounsaturated fat, these little guys are packed with fiber, protein, and vitamin E, as well as magnesium, which helps your body stabilize its blood sugar levels. Most health experts suggest eating an ounce a day—roughly 23 almonds—which clocks in at 9 grams of monounsaturated fat and around 165 calories. A perfect snack.
- Dark chocolate
Did you know that real dark chocolate is brimming with health benefits? It is! Plus, in small quantities, it improves digestion and fights belly fat, too. The catch: The higher the cocoa content, the better it is, so look for bars that feature 70-85% cocoa, if not more (most are found at health food stores and specialty supermarkets, as opposed to drugstores and newsstands like other chocolate.)
This leafy green vegetable is one of the healthiest foods you can eat: It’s super-low in calories, but high in things like vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium and magnesium. Spinach is also a good source of calcium which helps your muscles contract, and it’s high in fiber, so it helps you feel full. The easiest way to get your spinach on? Use it in place of romaine or iceberg lettuce in salads and on sandwiches.
You’ve probably heard that just one cup can spur the growth of probiotics, which are good bacteria in your gut. By doing so, nasty bacteria that causes bloating move out, effectively giving you a flatter stomach. Keep in mind: to get the benefits, you have to buy varieties that say “live and active cultures” on the label.
Eggs have a lot of good qualities, but the biggest is their uncanny ability to keep you full without making you bloated, thanks to its mix of essential amino acids, protein, and fat. Most experts agree that one egg a day is enough.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can speed up metabolism, and it’s filled with bloat-busting protein. As Fitness pointed out, an Australian study showed that overweight people who ate fish daily improved their glucose-insulinresponse. Meaning: Seafood may help slow digestion and prevent cravings. Try for one to two servings of salmon a week, and jazz it up with things like EVOO, fresh garlic, herbs, and veggies.
A tiny food that packs a big punch, most berries are brimming with fiber. In fact, according to Fitness, the more fiber you eat the fewer calories you absorb from other things because fiber traps food particles and shuttles them out of your system before they’re fully digested. Aim for around half a cup a day of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, or any other type you like.
Who knew one little apple had dozens of health benefits? Apart from being a great source of fiber to aid digestion and promote weight loss, apples also contain phenols (which lowers bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol), can help target certain cancers, help prevent heart disease, and happen to be a low GI food so you don’t get a sugar high then crash. To reap the rewards, eat one to two apples a day.