What is the best food to reduce belly fat? This popular food is readily available at any grocery store and has visceral fat-fighting powers.
Body fat is not all bad. In fact, you need it to survive. According to the American Heart Association, body fat not only helps keep your body warm, it’s also essential for absorbing nutrients and producing important hormones. However, there is one type that is bad for your health: visceral fat.
“Visceral fat is a type of body fat stored within your abdominal cavity that wraps around your internal organs; your liver, stomach, and intestines,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It’s not the same as the stomach fat that you may see.”
Although visceral fat isn’t visible from the outside, it can impact your health by raising your blood pressure and increasing your risk for developing certain conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, and even some cancers, says Ehsani.
One way to reduce visceral fat is to make some dietary adjustments, and you can start by adding one of the best, belly-fat-busting foods out there: plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. Read on to see why this food is so good at reducing harmful fat.
Greek Yogurt Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for one container (156 g or 5.5 oz) of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.
Fat: 0.265 g
Sodium: 56.2 mg
Carbohydrates: 5.68 g
Sugars: 5.1 g
Choline: 23.6 mg
Protein: 16.1 g
Calcium: 111 mg
One container of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt (156 grams) typically contains 5 grams of carbohydrates. It has 5.1 grams of sugar.
There’s less than 1 gram of fat in plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt contains 16 grams of protein, making it an excellent way to boost your daily protein intake.
Vitamins and Minerals
Greek yogurt is full of vitamins and minerals. One container includes 10.7 milligrams of magnesium, 136 milligrams of phosphorous, 141 milligrams of potassium, and 15 milligrams of choline. It also has 111 milligrams of calcium.
Magnesium helps with functions such as energy production and protein synthesis, while potassium plays a vital role in nervous system function and muscle contraction. Phosphorous helps with bone growth and normal cell membrane function. Choline, a B vitamin, assists with biological processes such as fat and cholesterol transport, as well as energy metabolism.
According to the USDA, one container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains 92 calories.
1. Why Greek yogurt can help reduce visceral fat?
“Research has suggested that foods rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin D may be linked to less visceral fat,” says Ehsani. “Therefore, plain, non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt is the number one food that people should be adding to their diet if they are looking to reduce visceral fat.”
2. One of the biggest benefits is its protein punch
“Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt typically contains 20-23 grams of protein per 1 cup serving,” says Ehsani. “Eating protein-rich foods can help reduce hunger as it promotes feelings of satiety. It also makes you less likely to overeat when you have protein present at meal and snack times.”
Protein takes a long time to digest and metabolize, thus helping you feel more full for longer. Research also finds that high protein intake is linked to a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference, and better HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Plus, yogurt contains live and active cultures known as probiotics which help support a healthy gut microbiome.
3. Choosing plain Greek yogurt is key since it won’t be loaded with sugar
“The flavored varieties tend to pack added sugar, which will not help reduce visceral fat,” says Ehsani. In fact, it may do the opposite. People who eat more added sugar tend to have more visceral fat, research suggests.
Ehsani says to choose non-fat or low-fat yogurt, as full-fat varieties contain saturated fat, and overeating saturated fat has been linked to promoting visceral fat; however, reducing your overall saturated fat intake (that includes foods like processed meats, cheese, and baked goods) is more important than making one choice to eat fat-free yogurt.
4. More Health Benefits of Greek yogurt
The nutritional profile of Greek yogurt contributes to its many health benefits.
May Improve Bone Health
Greek yogurt is full of calcium and protein, which could benefit your bones. Calcium, for example, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and helps build and maintain strong bones.
A study published in 2020 in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that healthy males ages 18 to 25 who consumed fat-free, plain Greek yogurt for 12 weeks saw “a significantly greater increase in bone formation,” compared to those who had a placebo with no protein or calcium.
May Improve Gut Health
Many brands of Greek yogurt contain probiotics, which are good bacteria that can help your gut achieve a healthy bacterial balance.
You’ll want to check your yogurt container to make sure it has what you’re looking for. Only yogurts that say “Live & Active Cultures” on their seal contain probiotics. Also, double-check the type and amount before you buy; these details can vary by brand.
May Promote Better Heart Health
Research suggests that fermented dairy, like yogurt, lowers the risk of plaque buildup and artery stiffness. Both are linked to high blood pressure.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, found that eating two or more servings of yogurt per week was linked with a 21% lower risk of stroke in men and 17% in women. That was compared with those who had less than one serving of yogurt per month.
According to research published in the Journal of Dairy Science, people with Type 2 diabetes who had 300 grams of yogurt with probiotics each day had a 4.5% and 7.5% decrease in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, compared to a control group. Yogurt “may contribute to the improvement of cardiovascular disease risk factors,” the study authors wrote.
May Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
In one study, published in BMC Medicine, a “higher intake of yogurt” was associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. That connection did not hold true for other types of dairy.