Stick to a healthy diet and exercise guidelines, and you’ll be slimmer and healthier by summer.
Obviously, you want to keep your calories in a healthy range and avoid meals that are high in saturated fat.
But research has also shown that eating more of certain foods can help you burn excess visceral fat and pave the way to a smaller middle, the Huffington Post reported.
In addition to helping maintain heart health and keep inflammation levels under control, monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, may stop belly fat before it starts.
Research in the journal Diabetes Care found that people who got roughly 25 percent of their total daily calories from MUFAs gained no visceral fat over the course of the study, while those who ate less MUFAs and more carbs added fat to their midsections.
MUFA-rich food is olive oil, as you can use it in so many meals, but avocados and nuts are other excellent sources.
Pine nuts are particularly great because they also contain high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
These acids increase levels of two hormones that signal your brain when you’re full.
Try snacking on one ounce of pine nuts (about the amount you can fit in a shot glass) 20 minutes before mealtime to avoid overeating.
People with chronically high levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to carry excess visceral fat.
Foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI), which uses a ranking system of 0 to 100, cause more rapid spikes in your blood sugar, in turn triggering the release of cortisol when glucose levels crash.
The constant up and down of your blood sugar levels can also lead to insulin resistance — the first step on the road to type 2 diabetes. To help keep cortisol levels stable, choose low-GI foods (with a rating of 55 or less) like beans, lentils, and chickpeas, instead of high-GI options like white rice and potatoes.
A study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that people who drank one and a half cups of green tea enriched with a total of 609 milligrams of catechins (a group of antioxidants that have been shown to help burn fat cells) every day for 12 weeks lost almost 16 times as much visceral fat as those who consumed green tea without the added antioxidants.
To achieve similar results with store-bought green tea, you’ll need to brew two to four cups daily (many varieties can contain 160 to 470 milligrams of catechins per cup).
When your body is low on calcium, dairy products produces a hormone that signals the body to store visceral fat.
Meeting your recommended daily calcium needs (that’s 1,000 milligrams for adults) can help reduce levels of this hormone.