While we’re not going to tell you that loading lox on a bagel is a good way to slim down, salmon is one seriously good choice when you’re looking to ditch the gut--or excess weight stored anywhere. (For the record, nix the bagel for the best results against any annoying bulge.)
This meaty fish delivers a one-two punch to the paunch you’ve been struggling with thanks to its solid protein content and heart-healthy omega-3s. Those oils characteristic of fattier fish like salmon and sardines actually help your body transform bad or white fat cells (think the stuff you can pinch) into healthy, fat-burning beige ones, a 2015 study out of Kyoto University found. This a big win for you and your attempts to whittle your middle; as we age, the number of these good fat cells dwindles, making it even easier to pack on the pounds with each passing year. The study suggests, however, that it may be possible to grow or restore your number just by choosing fatty fish like salmon a couple times a week.
But then its fat-melting capabilities get paired with its powerful punch of protein, a well-known weight loss ally. The Holy Grail of weight loss (losing fat while retaining or putting on muscle), in fact, is possible if you keep your protein intake high with the help of foods rich in the nutrient, like salmon. Both covetable effects can happen simultaneously as long as you consume a high-protein diet and lift weights, which signals your body to retain muscle instead of using it for fuel, according to a 2016 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Muscle retention is key, since muscle torches calories, keeping your metabolism elevated and burning through your unwanted fat stores.
HOW TO ADD IT TO YOUR DIET
Twice a week, swap in salmon where you would use chicken: with a whole grain and veggies as side dishes or on top of a healthy salad, for example. Yes, lox is still fair game and a good way to meet your servings each week, but you’ll see better results if you pile it on top of some greens than a bagel. If you just can’t separate the classic breakfast combo, choose a whole wheat bagel and try to find bagel thins at your local grocery store to cut calories and carbs. Just go easy on sugar-laden sauces and opt for fresh herbs and spices for flavor instead.