Did you know that even though you actively work on your abs in the gym, they are actually made in the kitchen?
Here’s the thing - aside from the pair of weights and specially designed exercises, your body needs you to supply it with the right nutritional weaponry that will help fight fat.
Before we move on to providing actionable advice and listing specific fat burning foods, allow us to take just a few more moments of your time to highlight the differences between more and less health-threatening fat, and how to differentiate the two.
The two types of fat
According to a piece published by Harvard Medical School, the fat that accumulates around the middle section of the body should not alarm you just because the numbers on the scale are dissatisfactory - the issue may be more complex than that. Namely, abdominal fat can go much deeper than the visible muffin top - without even knowing, a person might struggle with visceral fat which plays a huge role in a number of common health problems.
What is visceral fat?
It represents a type of a body fat which accumulates in the abdominal cavity around some of the vital organs, like stomach, liver and intestines, as well as arteries.
Before you start panicking - belly fat does not necessarily equal visceral fat - most often it is nothing more than a little fat stored under the belly, arms or legs, and poses no critical health risks.
So how do you differentiate the two?
Unfortunately, the only way to determine the exact amount of visceral fat in the body with absolute certainty is to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.
As it is quite a costly exam, the majority choose to follow the fact pointed out by Harvard Health Publishing in 2010 - the group of researchers state that around 10% of all body fat is intra-abdominal, visceral fat. Though it is just a small portion, the risks it poses for our overall health should not be so easily disregarded due to its small amount.
Health risks of visceral fat
Visceral fat produces molecules which can potentially have damaging effects on our overall well-being.
- It triggers the production of cytokines, proteins which can trigger low-level inflammation and as a consequence cause heart disease and some other chronic conditions;
- It is also involved in the production of angiotensin, a protein which causes high blood pressure;
- Visceral fat also secretes a greater amount of molecule which boosts insulin resistance that can result in type 2 diabetes.
What not to eat
Before we move on to all the healthy fat burning foods that should grace your plate, let’s just redirect you to our article on 10 foods that cause bloating. While in it we’ve already provided tips on how to prevent feeling bloated and gassy, we thought it might be a good idea to expand this ever-popular subject and list ingredients for your belly fat diet that will not only reduce cramps and gas, but that will promote overall health, as well.
What to eat
- Lean meat, turkey in particular
Lean meat is involved in the muscle building process, as well as the overall strengthening of the immune system. Just recently we’ve published a blog post on low calorie meals loaded with proteins where you’ll find a delicious dinner idea on how to prepare lean turkey with stuffed pepper - such light evening meals will help you burn belly fat more effectively.
People who have difficulties digesting lean meat will be happy to hear that fish, especially tuna, salmon and sardines, are extremely rich in protein and omega-3 acids, fill you up quickly, keep you full for a longer period of time, and ultimately help you lose belly fat. Check out the simple-to-prepare baked salmon recipe.
- Dairy products
When it comes to dairy products, note that we refer to the low- or non-fat milk or yogurt. Dairy, alongside other calcium-containing foods have proven to affect waist reduction, particularly with people who have genetic predispositions for higher storage of fat in the middle section of their bodies.
Eggs are popular among bodybuilders due to their high protein levels. Spruce up your egg breakfast with a bowl of salad on the side, or try mixing them with avocado, as some of this fruit’s compounds help the body improve weight while burning fat.
Not only are oats an ideal breakfast meal for those who are time-poor, they are actually probiotics which feed your body with the good bacteria. All it will take you is 3 minutes, two scoops of True Protein Instant Oats and a cup of water. For vegans, we’ve prepared a quick recipe with True Protein Vegan85 Rich Chocolate - mix the ingredients in the evening and have a fresh and nutritious meal for a busy morning.
- Green vegetables
Vegans and vegetarians should note that they can get their beneficial omega-3 acids from greens like cauliflower, and at the same time promote weight loss. All leafy greens contain potassium and similar minerals that reduce bloating.
- Beans and legumes
We are talking about the dried and edible seeds of peas, beans and lentils that have been slowly but surely substituting the unhealthy snacks we just love munching during the day. Not only do we find them extremely tasty, they are rich in fiber, protein, minerals and vitamin B. In just a few weeks, you are bound to feel less bloated, and you’ll notice a general improvement in your physique, as they aid in building lean body mass.
- Nuts, almonds in particular
American Heart Association published a research which proved that daily almond consumption can reduce abdominal and leg fat, but what is even more important - with a regular almond intake, healthy individuals can prevent the onset of cardiometabolic diseases. You can consume it in a form of a healthy milkshake or prepare sweet almond and cocoa butter cups.
If we were to talk about nuts in general, they are loaded with monounsaturated fats which are much healthier for the heart than their grain-based counterparts.
All berries are rich in fiber and antioxidants, but it is also important to emphasise that they contain much less sugar than other fruits. Aside from the fact that they are on your side when it comes to losing a few inches around the belly, blueberries, raspberries and other berries have the power to protect your heart.
Here are few ideas from us on what to blend with acai berry and get the antioxidant boost you need.
- Citrus fruit
Are you one of those people who go through an entire day without remembering to drink a glass of water? Then substitute all the juices you’ve been drinking up until now with freshly squeezed citrus fruit that contains potassium. They will help you combat bloating and reduce your tummy.
Banana is yet another belt-reducing fruit that deserves its place on this list - as they contain magnesium and potassium, bananas reduce bloating that is a result of salty processed foods. Mix it up with some honey to get a mouth-watering smoothie to feed your body with healthy sugar which contains minerals and vitamins you need to enhance your bodily functions.
- Dark Chocolate
For all of you who battle your inner self every time there’s a 100g (or more) table of chocolate that you just have to eat to its very last crumb - dark chocolate is the substitute you’ve been looking for all this time. Not only will it help you reduce sugar cravings, but will also control cortisol and insulin levels.
Workout to aid the weight loss process
For the end, something you’ve probably heard a thousand times - in order to achieve the desired outcome, nutrition-related changes will hardly be enough. For more effective (and quicker) results, you’re advised to find a way to include physical activity into your daily/weekly routine.
Now, before you disregard us with a Millennial-worthy response Ain’t nobody got time for that, trust us when we say that it is easier than you may think.
Moderate-intensity 30-minute exercise will be just enough. Focus on strength training and spot exercising like sit-ups that will aid in tightening that abdominal muscle.
That’s really all it takes - what’s your excuse for a flabby belly now?