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.
Citrus fruits contain the fat-burning nutrients fiber and vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates your body's fat-burning capability found in the carnitine amino acid, according to Fat Free Kitchen. Vitamin C plays a role in your body's fat processing capability. This nutrient speeds the process up by diluting the fat and then eliminating it from your body. Eat a variety of fiber and vitamin C-rich citrus fruits to increase your metabolism and burn fat. Citrus fruits include grapefruit, guava, lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, papaya and tomatoes. Drinking juices made from these fruits can also help burn fat.

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.
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.
Fruits make it to the top of this list. The emphasis on fruits continues through this guide. When berries are concerned, the deeper color means more antioxidants to break starch into simple sugars, ensuring lower blood sugar levels. This helps in body fat loss because insulin essentially puts sugar in adipose or fat cells. Raspberries contain ketones that are rich in fat burning capability. Blueberries lower cholesterol, improve insulin and blood sugar levels for the better, and are a top source of fiber, lower in calories to ensure fat burning foods work wonders. Berries also fend off infections and maintain excellent vision, maintaining bone density.
Kickstart your morning—and your metabolism—with this warming spice. Cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that are proven to alter body composition and improve insulin sensitivity (which means it keeps blood sugar stable, preventing hunger-inducing spikes and crashes). Japanese researchers found that mice who ate a daily helping of cinnamaldehyde (the ingredient that gives cinnamon its flavor) lost belly fat, while those who skipped the spice did not. Add it to your overnight oats or sprinkle some in your coffee to reap the benefits.

You say tomato, I say 9-oxo-ODA. That’s the name of a compound found in the brilliant red fruits that Japanese researchers recently discovered can effectively activate your DNA to burn more fat. Tomatoes are also brimming in beta-carotene and lycopene, two potent antioxidants that mop up harmful compounds that promote fat storage. One Journal of Nutrition study found people whose diets contained the most beta-carotene and lycopene had the smallest waists and the least belly fat. And at only 5 calories apiece, grab a few sun-dried tomatoes! Cooked tomatoes contain more bioavailable lycopene than raw tomatoes, according to Cornell University researchers.
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.
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.
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.
Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with some refined sugar, turn to berries and enjoy a slimmer waistline in no time without exercise. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and research from the University of Michigan reveals that rats given a cherry-rich diet shaved off a significant proportion of their belly fat when compared to a control group. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to reductions in belly fat and a reduced risk of dementia, to boot.
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