Lying back on that beach towel feeling the sun’s warmth and seeing the pool or waves in the distance over your toes is one of the best feelings of the summer season. Don’t let your belly get in the way of that view! Of course, no food targets one specific body part, but these six types are helpful to combat the deposit of intra-abdominal visceral fat (see picture) that wreaks havoc on your ab definition.
Broccoli and other nutrient-rich non-starchy vegetables like green beans, cabbage, and peppers.
Consuming more vegetables equates to having less belly fat and keeping it off. For a group of 175 overweight Latino youth, such vegetable consumption corresponded to 17% less visceral fatty tissue.(1) Danish women that consumed more vegetables and fruit had less gains in waist circumference over a 5-year period.(2)
Beans and other high soluble fiber foods like sweet potatoes, oats, apples, and carrots.
Over a five year period among over 300 African-American and Hispanic-American adults, greater intakes of dietary soluble fiber corresponded with less increase in visceral fatty tissue.(3) A smaller study showed that abdominal skinfold thickness was lower for men with higher fiber intakes.(4)
Lettuce and other lower carbohydrate/ketogenic-acceptable whole foods like nuts, avocado, and eggs.
In a small study over a two-year period, people who followed a very low-calorie ketogenic diet had a greater reduction in waist circumference and visceral fat compared with those on a low-calorie diet.(5) A more modest carbohydrate reduction (43% of calories vs. 55%) still proved effective to lose more intra-abdominal fat for 69 overweight American men & women over two months.(6)
Take heart if you don’t respond to a low carbohydrate diet! Whether low carb intake is beneficial for belly fat loss may depend on your genetics.(7) That’s right – your DNA could determine whether a high-carbohydrate diet (55-65% of calories) might suit you better.
Pork tenderloin and other unprocessed high protein foods such as eye-of-round beef, poultry breast, and fish fillets.
A small study of obese middle-aged Americans showed that a high protein diet (>30% calories) consumed over 6 meals per day resulted in lower abdominal fat after a full year, compared to a heart-healthy diet (15% protein; 3 meals).(8) For Danish adults, higher intakes of red meat were associated with a smaller increase in waist size over a five-year period.(2) However, higher consumption of processed meat and poultry in women was associated with larger increases in waist circumference.(2)
Sardines and other calcium & vitamin D rich foods such as cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and fortified juices and cereal.
Over a year-long period, the more calcium women consumed the less visceral fat they gained.(9) For Danish women, consumption of high-fat dairy related to smaller increases in waist circumference.(2) Among Canadian women, higher intakes of vitamin D were associated with lower abdominal fat.(10)
Coconut oil, and other sources of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) such as palm kernel oil, dry coconut meat, and raw coconut meat.
MCTs may reduce visceral fat and waist circumference by increasing energy expenditure, satiety, and fat oxidation.(11) They are rapidly metabolized compared to long-chain fatty acids, having less chance to be stored as fat.(11) A review of six studies involving MCT that measured visceral fat showed that all six resulted in more abdominal fat loss than controls.(11)
Ready, set, go! Start NOW eating these six belly-flattening types of food to get your six pack abs in time for summer. Hit the gym, too — then you can feel comfortable kicking off your shoes and hitting the water (or lying next to it).