By Lucy Gornall published
There’s no quick fix for lasting weight loss. That said, certain flat stomach foods can help beat the bloat, banish cravings and boost your metabolism.
So, if a key concern of yours is how to lose weight on your stomach, work the below foods into your healthy eating program. Of course, diet alone isn't enough to get a flat stomach - you'll also need to take regular exercise. Check out our list of the best exercises for weight loss for fat-blasting workouts, and also our article on the best workouts for abs for moves that will specifically target your midriff. You could also attempt our 30-day flat stomach workout plan.
A component called naringenin in grapefruit seems to lower insulin levels, which could reduce the desire to snack and make it easier for you to burn fat. One study found that having grapefruit or grapefruit juice before every meal resulted in up to 3.5lb/1.6kg lost over a 12-week period.
Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson recommends you try swapping out your mid-morning snack for half a grapefruit, or adding it to your breakfast menu, to help keep your food cravings under control.
All nuts – but particularly almonds – can help stabilize blood sugar levels and are a good source of filling fiber and potassium, which helps keep fluid levels in the body normal. They're typically high in fat (albeit the healthy type) and calories though, so stick to just a handful though.
This bright yellow spice is rich in curcumin, useful for reducing inflammation in the gut. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns adds: ‘Turmeric also helps with fat digestion, along with supporting the liver.’ But be sure to use it with care: it’s a devil when it gets onto your clothes!
4. Matcha powder
It’s an acquired taste, but Cassandra says this finely ground green tea could help burn fat and control appetite. Add a spoonful to your next healthy smoothie recipe and whizz it all together in a blender (see our pick of the best blenders if you don't already own one).
Your morning bowl of porridge can actively help reduce bloating. Cassandra explains: ‘The fibre in oats aids regular bowel movements.’ Try adding flaxseed and berries to your porridge for a healthy start to the day.
6. Leeks, garlic and onions
Stinky? Yes. Healthy? Very. Shona explains that a bloated tummy is often due to hormonal issues. ‘These foods all contain sulphur, which helps your liver rid the body of unwanted hormones,’ she says.
Fiber-rich and low-calorie, all types of berries are your flat tum friend. The purple/red anthocyanins that they contain have been linked with lower body fat levels and may be diabetes protective. Berries are also great as a snack when a sugar craving strikes!
Wholegrains, such as porridge, whole-wheat pasta and wholemeal bread, help to fill you up as well as relieving any constipation-related bloating (due to their high fiber content).
What's more, according to natural health expert Dr. Marilyn Glenville, wholemeal bread contains more fiber, zinc and iron than white bread. She told us: ‘The carbs in wholemeal bread are broken down slowly over several hours, suppressing your appetite and sugar cravings.’
9. Fermented foods
One of the biggest recent food trends needs to be on your shopping list. ‘The likes of sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, yogurt, buttermilk and kefir help feed the friendly bacteria in our gut,’ says Shona.
10. Oily fish
The omega-3 fats in oily fish have been reported to boost metabolic rate and also regulate levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin in a helpful way. Aim for 1-2 oily fish portions a week, such as salmon, sardines or mackerel.
11. Coconut oil
‘A teaspoon’s all you need to bust any fatty food cravings,’ says Shona. ‘Plus it helps energy levels.’ Win, win.
12. Green tea
For a flat stomach drink, have a cup of the green stuff. Substances called catechins in green tea are thought to help boost the metabolism and increase fat burning.
13. Herbal teas
For an alternative belly-flattening brew, choose a carminative tea (one that’s traditionally used by herbalists to help expel excess wind).
Peppermint is the most well known, with Shona sharing: ‘Mint has been shown to help soothe the abdomen and relax digestive discomfort. We like adding 7-10 fresh mint leaves to a cup of boiling water, then adding a teaspoon of honey or a squeeze of lemon to taste.
Other teas to try include ginger, lavender or chamomile.
Chili-laced meals have natural chemicals that can kick your metabolism into a higher gear. The effect is temporary, but the benefits could add up if you use the spice regularly.
For such a meaty veg, mushrooms have very few calories (there are only around 20 calories in one large flat mushroom). Try them as an alternative to meat in stir-fries and casseroles to help keep your waistline trim.
16. 0% Greek yoghurt
This type of yogurt ticks so many tummy-taming boxes – it’s rich in calcium, which has been linked with more efficient fat burning and a trimmer middle, low in calories and high in appetite-curbing protein. And the gut-friendly bacteria used to make yogurt may help to keep bloating at bay, too.
You can chomp on pretty much as much celery as you want (one theory says you actually use up more calories digesting celery than it gives you, but this may depend on your individual metabolism).
Either way, it’s a great summer veg to help keep you in trim, and it also has mild diuretic qualities to help banish puffiness.
Like mushrooms, eggplants (or aubergines, as they're known in Europe) have a meaty texture but next to no calories. You can use them in place of meat or potatoes to lower the calorie content of a dish.
Great for breakfast or as a snack, eggs pack in lots of protein, which curbs hunger. One study showed that people who ate eggs for breakfast ate fewer calories in total over the course of the day.
Foods to avoid for a flat stomach
- Apples, pears and mangoes: these fruits contain a lot of fructose, which can exacerbate bloating in people who have a tendency towards irritable bowel symptoms. They’re fine if you don’t have this digestive problem though.
- ‘Windy’ veg like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chickpeas garlic and onions: These all contain fermentable carbohydrates, which though good for us, can make some people gassy.
- Sugar-free chewing gum: This can sometimes cause problems with bloating due to the sweeteners sorbitol and mannitol, which are processed by gas-producing bacteria in the bowel.
Lucy is Head of Wellness at Pure Sport and was formerly Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, including Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.
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