Research suggests these magical pulses are one of the closest things we have to a fat-burning pill. For starters, beans are a great source of resistant starch, a type of slow-digesting, insoluble fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, triggering the production of the chemical butyrate, which encourages the body to burn fat as fuel and reduces fat-causing inflammation. They’re also one of the top sources of soluble fiber. A recent study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers found that for every additional 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten per day, a study subject’s belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Black beans? One cup boasts an impressive 4.8 grams of soluble fiber.
Sure, ketchup is tasty, but it’s also a serious saboteur when it comes your weight loss efforts. Ketchup is loaded with sugar — up to four grams per tablespoon — and bears little nutritional resemblance to the fruit from which it’s derived. Luckily, swapping out your ketchup for salsa can help you shave off that belly fat at home without a diet. Fresh tomatoes, like those used in salsa, are loaded with lycopene, which a study conducted at China Medical University in Taiwan links to reductions in both overall fat and waist circumference. If you like your salsa spicy, all the better; the capsaicin in hot peppers, like jalapeños and chipotles, can boost your metabolism, too.
For example, you might not realize just how much you eat when you go out to happy hour with friends. But if you take the split second to take a step back and make yourself aware of that fact, you’re more able to make a healthy decision. “The awareness and then planning and coming up with strategies for what else I can be doing—that might give me the same benefit of eating those comfort foods that make me feel better,” says Gagliardi.
Don’t pass up on this cheap trick. “One of the most under-appreciated magic fat-burning elixirs is water,” says Ajia Cherry, ACE, CHC, CPT, personal trainer and Founder at Functional Innovative Training. “The more water you drink, the fuller you will feel, the easier it is to cut back on unnecessary calories. That’s an essential element of weight and fat loss,” she explains. Water is necessary to keep your metabolism functioning optimally. For even more of a kick, add a lemon to your glass. D-limonene, an antioxidant in lemon peel, has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on metabolic disorders in mice with high-fat-diet-induced obesity.
This naturally sweet winter squash boasts one of the highest fiber counts of all the veggies, ringing in at a whopping 9 grams per cup. Promoting feelings of fullness—and thus staving off overeating so you can burn, rather than gain, fat—with satiating fiber isn’t the only way you’ll target that turkey neck. That’s because acorn squash is also an excellent source of vitamin C, a micronutrient that your body uses to decrease levels of the fat-storing hormone cortisol and boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.