Question:

No matter how much exercising and dieting I do, I can’t get rid of a small “spare tire” I’ve had for years. Is there something I can do nutritionally to help burn off that fat? 

– David H.

Hi, What are the foods you recommend that can reduce belly fat (subcutaneous fat) and give a flat belly? Thanks.

– Karthik K.

What foods are the best to eat to get rid of your belly fat and keep it off?

– Shawn R.

Answer:

We are asked these questions a lot! Scan for previous Living Healthy blog articles on the topic and you’ll find no less than twenty. For those already at a healthy body weight or with only a few pounds to lose, fat around the midsection and abdomen seems to resist all efforts at reduction. 

Though you can’t target belly fat with specific foods or exercises, fine tuning your diet and workout program can help you lose weight and tone all over. Exercise including moderate intensity work at least 30 minutes per day plus strength training helps control weight and fight abdominal fat, both subcutaneous and visceral (around the organs).  

For diet, the goal is to reduce foods that are readily converted to fat and focus on those that require greater work to metabolize. Doing so reduces both actual fat storage and the signals/prompts that cause it to happen, such as insulin. As long as your overall caloric intake is less than your expenditure, of course! 

  • Avoid added sugars, particularly in beverages. 
  • Choose wholesome raw ingredients that you prepare yourself instead of processed foods that generally have less fiber and more salt, sugar and trans fat
  • Get a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (from olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocados and fish). 
  • Include regular intake of active culture yogurt. 
  • Be sure you fill half your plate or bowl with vegetables at every meal, including a variety of colors.  
  • Reduce saturated fat from meat and cheese by substituting with beans, fish, poultry and egg whites.  
  • Keep alcohol intake below ‘moderate consumption.’

Sources: 

  1. Is There ‘One Trick’ to Losing Belly Fat? Rush University Medical Center https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/losing-belly-fat Accessed 9.23.2019 
  2. 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life. Johns Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/8-ways-to-lose-belly-fat-and-live-a-healthier-life Accessed 9.23.2019 
  3. 10 Reasons Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away. Health https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20905682,00.html Accessed 9.23.2019 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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