15 Foods You Better Be Eating If You Want Flat Abs
"For weight loss, eating better is more effective than exercise alone. About 70 percent of the way you look and feel is related to what you eat. You can log hours on a treadmill, but you can't outrun a bad diet," says Adrienne Raimo, R.D., a holistic health and wellness coach at One Bite Wellness in Columbus, Ohio.
While there's no magic food cure to shrink your waistline, Raimo has some general rules for an ab-friendly diet: Seek out foods that are high in fiber, low in added sugars and in a whole/all-natural state. Skip items that contain trans fats (found on ingredient lists as partially hydrogenated oils), refined sugars and grains, alcohol, or anything processed.
Sure, it's been a "diet" snack for decades, but yogurt 2.0 — in the form of all-natural Greek yogurt — packs three big benefits. The journalObesity reports that calcium intake (each cup of Greek yogurt has 15 percent of what you need in a day) has been linked to less abdominal fat. Yogurt is full of probiotics, and probiotic intake is associated with lower levels of belly fat, too, say Japanese scientists. Plus, the protein (16 grams per cup) keeps you satisfied for hours.
"Though they may bloat you at first, these nutritional gems offer protein and fiber, which will help you feel full longer," Raimo says. "As an added bonus, researchers have also found that those who eat beans have less of a risk of colorectal cancer." Wake Forest researchers have another reason for you to crack open a can: A 10 gram increase in soluble fiber intake results in a 3.7 percent decrease in the dangerous visceral fat (the kind that's near your internal abdominal organs). Hit that 10-gram mark by noshing on a cup of black beans, a cup of brussels sprouts, and an orange.
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Not all fats are created equal. "Coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides that boost thermogenic capacity — in other words, the amount of calories you burn while digesting a food," Raimo says. Blend a spoonful into your smoothie, or try adding a dash to your pan before sauteeing vegetables or browning pancakes.
"This anti-inflammatory spice contains curcumin, which has been shown to improve insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, and other symptoms linked to obesity. Insulin resistance makes it harder for your body to lose weight," Raimo says. Sprinkle turmeric onto vegetables before roasting.
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Both Mediterranean diet staples are high in monounsaturated fats, Raimo says. "Olive oil has polyphenols which can help protect the body from disease, while olives have a bit of fiber, making them a good snack choice or salad topping." The journalDiabetes Carereports that a diet high in monounsaturated fat might help you store less fat around the midsection — even if you don't cut calories.
Cure your sweet tooth the all-natural way with this colorful root vegetable, Raimo suggests. "Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A, potassium, B vitamins, and fiber," a combo pack of nutrients that are health-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and appetite-squashing. Compared to other root vegetables, these pretty potatoes fall low on the glycemic index, a rating of how much blood sugar spikes after eating. A study in theJournal of the American Medical Associationreports that a low-glycemic diet translates to a lower risk for obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
Sure, it's easy to forget about H2O since it's available straight from the tap all day, every day, but make it a priority for hydration, satisfaction, and a better, stronger workout. "The old adage of having eight eight-ounce glasses a day doesn't fit everyone, and for some, is hard to achieve. I tell my clients to aim for about half their weight in ounces of water per day [so 75 ounces for a 150-pound woman], especially while actively trying to lose weight and working out," Raimo says. Don't sweat about it being chilled if you prefer room temperature water. The tip to drink ice-cold bevvies to burn more calories results in a negligible seven-calorie difference per glass, Swiss researchers have found, or the equivalent of two Altoids.
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From amaranth to farro to wild rice, these fiber-packed carbohydrates are skinny superheroes. A study inThe American Journal of Clinical Nutritionplaced obese adults on a 12-week diet. Half of the participants were told to make all starches whole grains and follow the reduced-calorie program, while the other half were simply told to stick to the low-cal plan. Those on the whole grain track lost a greater percentage of body fat from the midsection and net more of the cardiovascular disease foes fiber and magnesium.
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