You may be hitting the gym or going for power walks but still struggling to lose your lower belly fat. The solution, believe it or not, may be in your fridge or pantry.
We’re not talking about cardboard-tasting snacks or only eating lettuce with no dressing here; fact is, you can eat a variety of foods that delicious and nutritious, and are also good for reducing the fat around your middle. Some belly-fat reducing foods to add to your diet:
- Lima beans Adding just a ¾ cup of lima beans to your diet each day can help you burn fat up to 50 percent faster, according to Australian research. Because they're packed with soluble fiber to slow absorption of carbohydrates, they can help regulate your blood sugar and keep it nice and low--and when blood sugar is low, it helps your muscles burn body fat quickly for fuel.
- Olive oil This healthy fat will make you feel full faster and will help you eat 16 percent fewer calories per meal. Drizzle olive oil on salad or use it to dip your bread into instead of reaching for butter.
- Leafy greens Whether it’s spinach, kale, bok choy, arugula, or lettuce, leafy greens are chock full of lipoic acid, a compound that boosts the production of leptin, a hunger-suppressing hormone. Try to eat at least a cup of leafy greens a day, which has been shown to help reduce body weight by 5 percent in six months, according to research from Harvard University.
- Turkey If you are hungry for a snack, a lean protein like turkey is tough to beat. Research from UCLA shows that a little bit of turkey can tide over hunger for 2 ½ hours, making it less likely that you’ll reach for an unhealthy treat when hunger pangs strike.
- Broccoli Adding just a cup of broccoli, cauliflower or any other cruciferous vegetable to your plate each day can help you lose weight 22 percent faster, according to research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The reason: These powerhouse veggies are packed with sulforaphane, a compound that helps your liver break down toxins, which can increase its ability to burn away stored fat.
- Nuts Nuts are a powerful tool in the fight against lower belly fat. That’s because nuts are high in magnesium, a mineral that’s important for releasing and burning stored body fat. Eating just 1/2 cup of nuts or seeds a day can trim your waistline six inches in six months, according to a study from University of Hawaii.
- Colorful berries There’s a reason why doctors recommend eating plenty of berries: The purple and red pigments that give berries their gorgeous hue, called anthocyanins, are like superheroes that block the body’s absorption and storage of fat. Eating just four cups of fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or whatever other berry you like a week can help you lose weight 24 percent faster while on any weight loss plan, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
- Tomato juice Another formidable weapon against a jiggly belly is tomato juice. Sipping just 9.5 oz. of tomato juice has been shown to help women lose 50 percent more fat from around their middles without making any other dietary changes over a period of 8 weeks, according to a study in the journal Nutrition.
- Tea Tea, whether it’s white, green, or black, is loaded with catechins, nutrients that activate fat-burning enzymes in the abdomen. Research by scientists at Tufts University found that catechins can reduce belly fat by as much as 77 percent and can also improve your liver’s ability to keep blood sugar steady and keep you feeling full longer. (Hint: Add lemon, which can boost your body’s ability to absorb belly-fat reducing catechins by a whopping 80 percent.)
- Prunes Snacking on five or six of these sweet treats a day has been shown to curb your appetite and help control belly fat. Bonus benefit: They’re high in hydroxycinnamic acids, compounds that speed up the burning of fat in the body.