No single food will automatically target your turkey neck (fat loss only happens when you burn more calories than you ingest, leading your body to preferentially break down lipid stores for energy). But alongside a proper fitness regimen, what you eat will help you torch body fat.
Whether it’s turning off fat genes, helping to build muscle that robs energy from adipose cells, revving your metabolism and ability to burn fat, or helping you feel fuller longer so you consume fewer calories, these foods have been proven to show an increased rate of fat loss. Find these fat burning foods below.
Fermented foods like miso, tempeh and sauerkraut contain probiotics, a.k.a. friendly bacteria that help boost immunity, regulate gut function and banish bloat. Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and skyr can provide probiotic benefits too. Choose ones that have five strains or more of bacterial cultures per 6-ounce serving.
Probiotics introduce useful bacterial to your system, but the prebiotics in oats feed the good bacteria already living there, helping it proliferate.
Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios — at GH, we’re nuts about nuts! People who snack on nuts may have lower abdominal fat than those who munch on carb-based treats, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, a heart-healthy (and more satisfying) pick than their grain-based counterparts.
Berries are packed with fiber (up to 9 grams a cup!) and antioxidants but contain less sugar than most fruits. That combo makes them a satisfying and healthy choice.
Plant-based oils like extra-virgin olive oil create that “full” feeling and help you slim down overall. Skip battered foods deep-fried in oil, though! Fried snacks are associated with weight gain, so you’re better off enjoying them only once in a while.
High-protein breakfasts, especially ones that include eggs, have been linked to weight loss, reducing belly fat in the process. Add eggs to salads, stir-frys and sautés, or pair them with 100% whole-grain toast and veggies for a hearty breakfast.
Beans and Lentils
Pulses — the dry edible seeds of beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas — are everywhere these days, and we couldn’t be happier about it. They’re filled with fiber and plant-based protein, plus minerals and B-vitamins. Overall, pulses reduce bloat by aiding your nervous and muscular systems, helping you build lean body mass.
It doesn’t get any better than fish when it comes to healthy protein, especially salmon, tuna and sardines. They’re filled with important omega-3s and lean protein, helping you fill up and curb cravings.
Plant-based omega-3s belong in any healthy eating plan, but leafy greens and cauliflower are especially helpful for tightening up. They’re loaded with minerals like potassium, which can help offset the bloat-inducing effects of sodium.
Good news for lovers of this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!): A 2013 study linked regular avocado-eaters to lower waist circumference and BMI. What’s more, the monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy and filling, reducing the urge to graze on processed foods later on.
Filled with potassium and magnesium, bananas offset the bloat caused salty processed foods and pack in plant-based prebiotics, “feeding” your good bacteria. Snack on one a day with a tablespoon of nut butter, or slice it into your morning cereal.
As a prebiotic-filled veggie, asparagus is a great addition to soups, pastas and omelets, or served as a side dish. For extra bloat-beating benefits, try pairing asparagus sticks with other crudité and dipping in hummus.
Mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes and cucumber all help you stay hydrated due to their high H2O content. That extra water can offset fluid retention caused by excess salt.
The potassium in citrus helps combat bloat while the antioxidants fight inflammation, which is associated with belly-fat storage. Since a key part of beating the bulge is proper hydration, adding citrus to your H2O can help non-water drinkers to sip up and ultimately slim down!
You already know that garlic, onion, leeks, scallions and shallots add lots of flavor, but they also provide tons of prebiotic fiber. Sneak them into savory dishes, like omelets and salads.
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin and other good-for-you tubers are lower in calories and chock-full of potassium and beta-carotene. Their mineral-rich and fiber-full properties make them bloat-beating all-stars.
Herbs and Spices
Flavor foods with herbs and spices whenever you can. It’ll encourage you cut back on high-sodium staples and avoid the salt shaker, a major player in bloating. Plus, many have mild diuretic effects, helping you flush out excess water. We love basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, tarragon, mint, oregano and black and red chili peppers, to name a few.
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.
A scoop of guacamole is one of the most effective fat-burning, hunger-squashing snacks known to man. Not only are avocados rich in vitamin B6—which directly counteracts the belly-fat-building stress hormone, cortisol—they’re also full of monounsaturated fat. This healthy fat may actually prevent body fat distribution around the belly by down-regulating the expression of certain fat genes, according to research in the journal Diabetes Care. These same satiating fats may also be the reason behind another study that found people who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward.
The phrase “slow carb” is anything but sluggish when it comes to blasting fat. Slow carbs are digested slowly, which keeps you feeling fuller and energized longer—and sweet potatoes are one of them. Among the magic ingredients here are carotenoids, antioxidants which stabilize blood-sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, which prevents calories from being converted into fat. And their high vitamin profile (including A, C, and B6) give you more energy to burn at the gym.
If there’s such a thing as a muffin-top-melting tea, this is it. White tea works in three distinct ways to help strip away fat from your body. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells). Another group of researchers found that the tea is also a rich source of antioxidants that trigger the release of fat from the cells and help speed the liver’s ability to turn fat into energy.
If you thought losing weight would mean giving up all your indulgences, look no further than dark chocolate. A study at Louisiana State University found that gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate and boost our body’s production of gut-healthy polyphenolic compounds, including butyrate, a fatty acid that encourages the body to burn fat as fuel and turns off genes linked to inflammation. (Add fruit to the chocolate to boost fermentation and the release of the compounds.) Make sure you go with chocolate that has a cacao content of 70 percent or above—these have the highest concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols.
It’s a dietary miracle: A fat that makes you skinny. Dietary supplementation of coconut oil actually reduced abdominal obesity in a study published in the journal Lipids. Of the participants, half were given two tablespoons of coconut oil daily and the other half were given soybean oil, and although both groups experienced overall weight loss, only the coconut oil group saw smaller waistlines. And other researchers have also pointed to the waist-whittling effects of the tropical oil. In a separate study of 30 men, those who ate 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day shrank their waists by an average of 1.1 inches in one month. Thank C.O.’s medium-chain triglycerides, which are burned as energy instead of being stored as fat, and lauric acid, which has been shown to pinpoint belly fat and torch it.
Add a squeeze of this tart citrus in your water. Or, try it on top of salads or yogurt. Lime is also a great addition to smoothies and tea, and delicious in marinades and sauces.
Tomatoes are delicious and abundant in the summer months. Slice them up and eat them on their own, or incorporate tomatoes into salads and sauces.
Known as an aphrodisiac, these briney bivalves are also a great fat-burning food to add to your diet.
Top your salad with shrimp or have them boiled with cocktail sauce. This fat-burning food is used in nearly every cuisine around the world.
It’s good for your immunity, your digestive system, and weight loss. Greek yogurt will help you stay full. Have it as a snack, or use it within sauces, as a substitute for mayonnaise, or within salad dressing.