Incorporate these foods into your diet for a slimmer middle. Read on for the five best foods to burn stubborn belly fat.
Looking to melt your middle? Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier to do than you think. All you have to do is incorporate these five food groups, each of which helps to fight inflammation, boost metabolism, and—most important of all—turn off your fat genes and reverse your body’s tendency to store fat.
These best foods to melt belly fat are designed to provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats at every meal to help boost metabolism and fight hunger. They’ll maximize your levels of macronutrients to shut down your genetic fat-storage mechanisms, while also minimizing excess sugars, refined carbohydrates, and additives that are known to aggravate the stomach and lead to inflammation and weight gain.
The result will be not only fast, easy weight loss but an almost immediate sense of energy, a leaner midsection, and a lighter body. Read on for the five best foods to burn stubborn belly fat.
Eggs are the single best dietary source of the B vitamin choline, which is an essential nutrient used in the construction of all the body’s cell membranes. Two eggs will give you half your day’s worth; only beef liver has more. And believe us, starting your day with a slab of beef liver does not make for a great morning.
But as more and more research is done into the mechanisms of fat genes, the value of eggs has only grown. Choline deficiency is linked directly to the genes that cause visceral fat accumulation, particularly in the liver. One of the reasons heavy drinkers develop fatty liver is that alcohol undercuts the body’s ability to process choline.
Yet, according to the 2005 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only a small percentage of all Americans eat daily diets that meet the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s Adequate Intake of 425 milligrams for women and 550 milligrams for men. Start your day with eggs, and enjoy some other sources like lean beef and seafood.
Egg Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one large hard-boiled hen’s egg (50g).
Carbs: Eggs are a low-carb food, providing less than 1 gram of carbohydrate in one large egg. They have a tiny amount of sugar and no fiber.
Fat: There are 5 grams of fat per large egg. About 1.6 grams is saturated fat, and the rest is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Preparing eggs with fat (like frying them in butter or oil) will add fat and calories to your meal. Most of the fat in an egg is contained in the yolk. The yolk provides about 55 calories worth of combined fat and protein.
Protein: Eggs are a good source of high-quality, complete protein. Most of it is found in the egg white: There are 4 to 5 grams protein, 17 calories, and virtually no fat in a single large egg white. Egg whites are also a good source of leucine, an amino acid that may help with weight loss.
Vitamins and Minerals: Eggs provide important vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamin D (important for the absorption of calcium), phosphorus, vitamin A (for healthy vision, skin, and cell growth), and two B-complex vitamins that your body needs to convert food into energy. Eggs are also a very good source of riboflavin, selenium, and choline.
2. Red fruit
More and more research has begun to show that some fruits are better at fighting belly fat than others. And the master fruits all have one thing in common; they’re red, or at least reddish. These fruits include ruby red grapefruit, tart cherries, raspberries, strawberries, Pink Lady apples, watermelon, plums, peaches, and nectarines.
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
One cup of diced watermelon (152g) provides 46 calories, 0.9g of protein, 11.5g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene and vitamins A and C. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.
Vitamin C: 12.3mg
Vitamin A: 42.6mcg
Carbs: The carbohydrates in watermelon are mostly sugars, with only a little fiber. Half of the sugar is fructose, one quarter is glucose, and less than one quarter is sucrose, with other sugars making up minor fractions. If you are counting carbohydrates, it’s best to measure watermelon carefully.
1 cup diced watermelon (152g): 0.6 grams fiber, 9.4 grams sugars, 11.5 grams total carbohydrates, 10.9 grams net carbohydrates
1 medium-sized wedge of watermelon (286g): 1.1 grams fiber, 17.7 grams sugars, 21.6 grams total carbohydrates, 21 grams net carbohydrates
Watermelon has a glycemic index (GI) of 76.2 This means it could give you a faster rise in blood sugar than foods with a lower GI. However, when considering glycemic load (which takes into account how much you eat per serving), a half cup of chopped watermelon is 4, which is considered low.
Fats: You will get almost no fat in watermelon, making it similar to other melons such as cantaloupe or honeydew. The fat that is present is mainly polyunsaturated (0.076 grams), with smaller amounts of monounsaturated (0.056 grams) and saturated (0.024 grams) fatty acids.
For dietary tracking purposes, you can consider watermelon a non-fat food. The seeds (yes, they are edible) are a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein: Watermelon has only a little protein, with just under 1 gram per cup. Interestingly, some companies produce watermelon seed protein by sprouting and shelling the seeds.
You won’t be able to get that level of protein from fresh seeds, however, because the shell of the seed prevents digesting the protein inside.
Vitamins and Minerals: A fully ripe red watermelon contains higher levels of nutrients than less ripe watermelon. A single serving of watermelon is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, providing a significant percentage of your daily requirement for each.
Vitamin C aids in wound healing and may have anti-aging and immune-boosting properties,6 whereas vitamin A is important for eye health. A one-cup serving of watermelon also provides about 7% of your daily needs of copper and pantothenic acid, 5% of biotin, and 4% of vitamins B1 and B6.
Calories: One cup of diced or balled watermelon contains around 46 calories. If you prefer to eat it wedged instead, a wedge that is around one-sixteenth of the melon (286 grams) contains almost double that amount or approximately 86 calories.
3. Olive oil—and other healthy fats
Though it may seem counterintuitive to add fat to a meal if you’re trying to lose fat, eating a moderate portion of unsaturated fats, like the kind found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts, can ward off the munchies and keep you full by regulating hunger hormones. A study published in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterward.
Changing the kind of fat in your diet will also help you increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids while reducing omega-6 fats (found in vegetable oil and fried foods); upping your ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s has been proven to improve metabolic health and reduce inflammation.
Olive Oil Nutrition Facts
One tablespoon of olive oil (14g) provides 119 calories, 0g of protein, 0g of carbohydrates, and 14g of fat. Olive oil is a good source of vitamins E and K and contains trace amounts of potassium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.
Vitamin E: 1.9mg
Vitamin K: 8.1mcg
Carbs: There are no carbohydrates in olive oil.
Fats: One tablespoon of olive oil contains 9.86 grams of monounsaturated fat, 1.42 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.86 grams of saturated fat. Although a majority of the fat is the good kind, it’s still beneficial to control your intake since it is calorically dense.
Protein: Olive oil doesn’t contain any protein.
Vitamins and Minerals: There are approximately 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E in one tablespoon of olive oil. Vitamin E helps keep our cells healthy by helping to protect them from free radicals while also boosting immunity and preventing blood from clotting within the blood vessels.
This same amount of olive oil also contains 8.1 micrograms of vitamin K. This vitamin plays a role in many functions, some of which include blood clotting, bone metabolism, and bone mineralization.
Consuming olive oil provides trace amounts of potassium, roughly 0.1 milligrams per tablespoon. Potassium supports healthy function of the kidneys and heart; it also plays an active role in muscle contraction.
Calories: One tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories, making it a calorically-dense food. If you reduce the amount to one teaspoon, the calorie count decreases by roughly two-thirds, or closer to 40 calories per serving.
4. Leafy greens, green tea, and brightly colored vegetables
Low-energy-density foods like vegetables are crucial for melting belly fat, because they add essential nutrients, filling fiber, and volume to meals, all for relatively few calories. Bright colors signal that the vegetables are rich in polyphenols, micronutrients that help to control diet-induced inflammation. Green tea carries catechins, some of which can “turn off” the genetic triggers for diabetes and obesity. And vegetables, especially the leafy kind, have a low glycemic load—meaning they fill your body up with nutrients without generating a spike in blood sugar.
5. Dark chocolate
The benefits of dark chocolate keep piling up: mental clarity, lowered blood pressure, and decreased appetite. A 2014 study found that a particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and actually lowered their blood sugar levels. In 2018, Louisiana State University also conducted a study and found that gut microbes in one stomach ferment chocolate and boost our body’s production of heart-healthy polyphenolic compounds, including butyrate, a fatty acid that decelerates the behavior of genes linked to insulin resistance and inflammation. Add fruit to the chocolate to boost fermentation and the release of the compounds!
But make sure you’re choosing the right kind of chocolate: Look for a cacao content of 70% or above, and stay away from Dutch cocoa, as the Dutching process destroys up to 77% of the healthy compounds in chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Nutrition Facts
Dark chocolate is a rich source of fiber, loaded with iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and other minerals. You’ll get the most flavanols from chocolate that’s 70% or more dark.
Nutrients per Serving
A 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate, between 70% to 85% cacao solids, contains:
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: 12 grams
Carbohydrates: 13 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Sugar: 7 grams
An ounce or two per day is more than enough to get the health benefits of dark chocolate. Eat more than that, and you’ll risk the negative effects of weight gain from the fats and calories.