Ask any four people to name their least favorite body part and at least one of them will say “their belly.”
The concern over belly fat is more serious than not looking good in your bathing suit. Research shows that abdominal fat leads to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. The problem isn’t just too much fatty food or lack of exercise. Poor sleep habits, stress and trans fats in packaged foods can all contribute to a soft, fatty stomach.
Eat fewer refined and processed carbohydrates such as white bread, bagels and muffins. Replace those with more proteins, monounsaturated fats and antioxidant-rich foods. Beans are an amazing source of protein, and since they come in a lot of varieties, you’ll never get bored.
The protein in navy, kidney and lima beans is effective in boosting your metabolism because they require more energy to digest.
To lose belly fat, 25-30% of your total calorie intake should come from lean protein sources.
Monounsaturated fats come from the healthy oils in plant foods such as olives, nuts and avocados. Two tablespoons of peanut butter offers 7.9 grams of monounsaturated fat and 22.4 mg of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid. Be sure to choose a natural, sugar-free peanut butter. The label should only list a couple of ingredients such as peanuts and salt.
Remember to keep your servings in check. Eating too much of even the healthiest of foods can undo their healthful benefits.
If you have trouble fitting these flat-belly foods into your diet, keep a box of green tea bags around. Green tea contains certain compounds that boost energy expenditure, increase the release of fat from fat cells and speed up the liver’s fat burning process. Just as with the peanut butter, make sure your tea is sugar-free.