Foods rich in the amino acid leucine can help build the lean muscle mass that’s needed to trim excess fat from your frame, according to Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD. It literally jumpstarts the process of developing muscle mass—and red meats are one of the best sources around. Go grass-fed to get the added benefits of omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids—these two fatty acids help to decrease the inflammation in your body that causes fat storage.
Carbs are not the enemy. Not whole-grain carbs, that is. People who ate three or more daily servings of whole grains (such as oats) had 10 percent less belly fat than people who ate the same amount of calories from processed white carbs (bread, rice, pasta), according to a Tufts University study. It’s theorized that this is due to whole grains’ high fiber and slow-burn properties, which keep you satiated longer.
The fat-burning equation is simple: Protein builds muscle. More muscle = more fat burning. And fish is one of the healthiest sources of lean protein—especially wild salmon, says dietitian Lauren Minchen, MPH, RD, CDN. It’s also a rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which fuel fat burning, block fat storage and aid weight loss, she explains. But that’s not all: “Getting enough protein and healthy fat also helps to reduce cravings and has been shown to help keep weight off for longer,” adds Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS.
If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective (and therefore make progress toward your weight loss goals), the ideal number is typically 7 or 8 hours, says Dr. Cheskin. (Struggling to get that shut-eye? This doctor-approved breathing exercise will help you fall asleep fast.)
These are a wonderful option for keeping you satiated. Additionally, these are good fats that do not add to calories. Nuts in particular are a wonderful source of nutrients to burn fat for those who are vegan. Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and increasing energy and metabolic rate at which calories are burnt, these nuts are the right choice for burning the belly fat.
Surprised? Although olive oil contains fat, it actually contains a type of healthy fat that has been found to decrease levels of fat-storing inflammation. According to a review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, a polyphenol only found in unrefined extra virgin olive oil—oleocanthal—reduces inflammation in a similar way that ibuprofen does: it prevents the production of two pro-inflammatory enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2.
A handful of almonds packs a serious fat-burning punch: One International Journal Of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders study of overweight adults found that eating about a quarter-cup of almonds for 6 months led to a 62 percent greater reduction in weight and BMI, thanks to a compound that limits the fat absorbed by the body. And eating just 1.5 ounces of almonds daily led to a reduction in belly and leg fat, a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed. For added effect, eat almonds before working out: The amino acid L-arginine can help you burn more fat while building muscle.
But you'll lose the most fat by doing HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. This training technique involves working at full throttle for short intervals -- typically 10 seconds to a minute -- then recovering at a slow pace or resting for a minute or two. It increases your metabolism after a workout, since your muscles need to work hard to get "back to normal." HIIT also burns more belly fat than traditional, steady-pace cardio, according to Penn State University.
Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.
The researchers explain that people who cook their own meals may simply have other good-for-you habits, like exercising more. However, they also concluded that home cooks ate more fruits and vegetables (along with a wider variety of foods), have healthier methods of prepping their food, and splurge less on foods high in calories and sugar. No clue where to start? Check out these 25 high-protein chicken recipes for weight loss.