Who knew there was a connection between a spicy pepper scorching your mouth and burning your belly fat? Scientists did! According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, daily consumption of one of the compounds found in pepper (capsaicin) speeds up abdominal fat loss by boosting the body’s ability to convert food into energy. It also acts as a natural appetite suppressant: men who ate spicy appetizers consumed 200 fewer calories at later meals than those that did not, a study by Canadian researchers found. All you have to do to reap the benefits is use a pinch of cayenne pepper to season grilled fish, meats, and eggs.
All animal proteins are also a good source of tryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. “If you struggle with mood or stress, it’s important to boost the production of serotonin to stabilize your mood, curb emotional eating, and keep stress-induced snacking at bay," especially when you’re trying to lose weight, says Cording. But when it comes to portions, opt for a 100 gram serving, which is about the size of a deck of cards, for reference.
Each slice of grapefruit you add to your salad acts like a match to spark your body’s fat-burning ability. A study published in the journal Metabolism found that those who ate grapefruit for six weeks lost a full inch off their waistlines. What’s behind the belt-tightening effect? The fruit is rich in phytochemicals, bioactive compounds that recent research shows stimulate the production of a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of body fat. Japanese research suggests the smell of the juicy fruit can “turn on” calorie-burning brown fat cells, promoting the breakdown of body fat while reducing appetite.
Had enough of boring rice? Add some bulgur into your diet. Although this grain is traditionally used in tabbouleh—a staple dish of Mediterranean cooking made by combining bulgur with chopped parsley, garlic, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and lemon juice—you can also use it as a base of salad bowls or a side for a chicken dish. This cereal will help you burn fat thanks to boasting over eight grams of belly-filling fiber; A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that by simply increasing the amount of fiber you eat each day (to 30 grams) while keeping calories the same could help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve your body’s insulin response as effectively as more complicated diets that try to overhaul your entire diet.
Some great breakfast foods include any one or two of the following: oatmeal 125ml or half a cup, eggs (2), 1 slice of wholegrain bread with a thin spread of nut butter 15 ml or 1 tbsp), low-fat cottage cheese (125 ml or half a cup) with fruit, plus any serving of fruit and a glass of reduced fat milk, soy milk or almond milk, tea or coffee without sugar. Some wholegrain breakfast cereals with milk would also be fine but read the label. You want to see higher protein than fat or sugar.
“Starting slow and working your way up is better than overdoing it and giving up,” says Gagliardi. “I like the idea of attaching the new behavior of taking a walk to an existing behavior.” An easy way to approach it: Commit to going for a quick 10-minute walk after dinner, and slowly increase the time as you become more comfortable with daily movement.
Resolve to do more prying. Oysters are one of the best food sources of zinc, a mineral that works with the hormone leptin to regulate appetite. Research shows that overweight people tend to have higher levels of leptin and lower levels of zinc than slimmer folk. A study published in the journal Life Sciences found that taking zinc supplements could increase leptin production in obese men by 142 percent! A half-dozen oysters only have 43 calories but provides 21 percent of your RDA of iron—deficiencies of which have been linked to a significant increase in fat gene expression.
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.
Some of the most well known marine veggies are nori, wakame, kombu, hijiki and arame. With Omega 3 fatty acids, sea veggies are perfect for combating inflammation. This is a potent means of fighting inflammation so that the body can prevent inflammation and flatten the belly. So remember to buy these fresh and organic rather than processed and filled with sodium.