Want to lose your gut? Don’t we all. Whether that unflattering flab around your midsection discourages you from flaunting your bod at the beach or just wearing that expensive pair of designer jeans on casual Fridays, we’ve all been there. Flaunting a muffin top—even if you’re not eating one for breakfast—is something that’s not easy to come to terms with, but can easily be banished with the help of these specific fat-incinerating foods.
To aid in your quest of achieving a toned tummy, we’ve put together a list of the 50 most potent foods that’ll help you get rid of the gut—and keep it off! Snoop through our list (heck, even print it out and use it as a grocery list!) and get to burning some extra fat fast with our best weight loss tips.
The good gut bugs that thrive in your stomach require food to live, and one of their go-to picks are black beans! Gut bacteria munch on these beans’ soluble fiber and then transform it into butyrate, a chemical that’s been shown to increase calorie burning in mice. Every half a cup of black beans has over eight grams of satiating fiber, which is nearly twice as much as an apple boasts!
Wild-caught salmon is brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, which are notorious for squashing inflammation and helping you zap unwanted belly flab. In fact, these healthy fats fight inflammation by increasing adiponectin levels, a hormone that boosts metabolism and burns fat. Stock up on this pink fish, as it’s rich in both EPA and DHA, the two active forms of omega-3s.
Stop fearing the fat! Creamy avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that dim your appetite and prevent the accumulation of belly fat. In fact, a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology tracked 90,257 people for several years and discovered that participants who tried to eat a low-fat diet had the same risk of being overweight as those who ate whatever they wished! Consider this fast fact another reason to bite into avo toast.
Looking to blast belly fat? Well first, you must make sure you’re eating foods that support a balanced gut microbiome—like miso paste (yup, the stuff miso soup is made with). Made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, miso paste teeming with gut-healthy bacteria that can help stimulate the digestive system, strengthen your immune system, and torch belly fat. Here’s proof: in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers compared overweight women who followed a low-calorie diet and were given either a placebo or a probiotic supplement for twelve weeks. At the end of the study, women who supplemented their calorie-restrictive meal plan with a probiotic lost more weight than those who took the placebo.
Carotenoids, plant-derived antioxidants that stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance (therefore preventing calories from converting into belly fat) are generously present in sweet potatoes. For a quick and easy side or snack, pop a whole tater into the oven, bake on high until soft, and enjoy alongside your dinner or on its own.
Forget counting calories on your quest to fight fat, and shift your focus onto protein instead. Since muscle steals the fat cells around your abdominals to burn for energy, maintaining those gains is a great way to score washboard abs. Just one large egg contains about 78 calories and a solid six grams of protein. If you’ve exhausted all your favorite scramble combos, whip up some of these Egg Recipes to Stay Skinny for a change.
Oats contain a type of hard-to-find soluble fiber called beta-glucans, which forms a gel in your small intestine, lowering blood cholesterol levels, boosting the immune system, increasing satiety, and regulating blood glucose levels. When you feel fuller for longer, there’s less of an opportunity to gorge on unhealthy snacks or extra calories that could make you put on belly fat. Wake up to a belly-flattening meal by whipping up one of these Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss the evening before.
These reddish fruits can give your fat genes the red light. How so? Plums contain phenolic compounds called flavonoids, which lend the fruit its deep color as well as its ability to fight fat. Plums also are a great source of pectin, a gelatin-like type of fiber which animal studies have found to reduce liver fat (belly fat) and block the amount of fat cells can absorb.
There’s a reason why Popeye always chose spinach. The dark green leaves contain a long-chain sugar molecule called sulfoquinovose (SQ), which can help your midsection stay trim. According to a study in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, SQ promotes the growth your good gut bacteria, which prevent bad bacteria from colonizing your gut and causing inflammation and belly fat. Toss the leafy greens with a handful of walnuts, sliced strawberries, and goat cheese for a satisfying lunch.
This succulent root veggie is a unique source of betaine, an amino acid that increases metabolism, positively influences the mechanism for insulin resistance, boosts your mood, switches fat genes off, and attacks inflammatory markers that are released by belly fat, according to a review in the journal Nutrients. Not sure how to incorporate these bad boys into your meal plan? Try these Healthy Beet Recipes.
Take a moment to ignore the recent buzz claiming coconut oil is a health food foe, and consider this: according to a study published in the journal Lipids, participants who supplemented their diet with this tropical oil reduced abdominal obesity significantly more than participants who consumed inflammatory soybean oil. To what can we chalk up the flatter belly? Experts believe it’s the coconut oil’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).
According to a 2016 Danish study, people who ate a meal rich in plant protein rather than animal protein reported feeling significantly more satiated. Pack a baggie full of flab-frying peanuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds to munch on if the hunger pangs begin to distract you in between meals. Just make sure to portion your trail mix, as the fix-ins are some of the Healthy Foods To Eat in Moderation.
Besides for being one of our favorite portable proteins for on-the-go satiety, Greek yogurt is also a great belly fat fighter. According to a recent study presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference, researchers found that when protein is digested and broken down, one of the resulting amino acids, phenylalanine, triggers hormones that help reduce appetite, which can lead to weight loss. If you find yourself stumped at the dairy aisle, don’t forget that we tested 12 yogurts and found the best one. Our top pick is the creamiest of them all—and packs in an impressive 15 grams of the muscle-building stuff!
According to a study in the journal Oncogene, curcumin (turmeric’s main antioxidant) is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods in existence. Since belly fat encourages inflammation as well as makes it more difficult to lose the bulge, sprinkling anti-inflammatory turmeric onto your eggs or stirring up a golden milk latte will help you tighten that tummy.
Light tuna is a dietary triple threat in a can: it’s affordable, packed with protein, and blasts belly fat. In fact, a study in the Journal of Lipid Research found that adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet could help turn off fat genes. While fish contain two types of omega-3s—DHA and EPA—the researchers discovered that DHA can be 40 to 70 percent more effective than EPA at suppressing fat genes and preventing fat cells from enlarging. Crack open a can of tuna because it’s the fish with the highest DHA content.
When you skimp out on sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, the hunger hormone, encouraging you to eat more the next day. Stay on track with your weight loss goals by noshing on nanners. Not only do their muscle-relaxing minerals, like potassium and magnesium, lullaby your body into a sleep mode, these fruits can also help you look and feel thinner. One Anaerobe study found that women who ate a banana twice daily before meals for two months reduced their bloat by 50 percent, thanks to the fruit’s debloating potassium.
Who knew that zapping fat is as easy as shaking some cinnamon onto your oats? A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that this blood sugar-regulating spice helps reduce insulin secretion, preventing sugar from being stored as fat. Not into oatmeal? Try sprinkling the stuff into your latte or smoothies.
Forget the flour tortillas and Frosted Flakes, and don’t even think about grabbing that loaf of ciabatta! “Whole grains provide a good source of fiber, B vitamins, and may even help regulate blood-sugar levels and promote a loss of belly fat,” explains Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN. “For every grain you choose, make it 100 percent whole grain.” Our exclusive report best & worst store-bought breads can help you sift through the most popular pieces of toast so you can choose the right one.
Leucine can help you build the lean muscle mass that’s needed to trim excess fat from your frame, according to Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD. Red meats just happen to be some of the best sources of this potent amino acid. Always pick grass-fed meats to get the added benefits of omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), as these two fats can decrease inflammation and fat storage.
At the same time cayenne pepper torches your tongue, it also incinerates the fat cells in your tummy. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating capsaicin, the main compound in the fiery pepper that lends it its heat, speeds up abdominal fat loss by boosting the body’s ability to convert food into energy. Add some heat and color to your cooking with these 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism.
Consider these bumpy red berries your new natural weight loss pill. Raspberries are jam-packed with fiber and water, which help you feel full. And just like other berries, raspberries are brimming with polyphenols, powerful plant chemicals that have been shown to whittle your middle. Throw them onto your morning oatmeal or pop them as a snack to reap their benefits.
One of the juiciest joys of fall is the plethora of apple species we can find at the local grocery store. Whether you go for the Granny Smith or always pick the Pink Lady apples, this crunchy fruit has been proven to trim excess fat. Just don’t forget to bite into one with the skin on! Apple peels contain a compound called ursolic acid, which can increase muscle mass and brown fat, the good kind of fat that helps melt your midsection.
While grapes contain more sugar than most of our favorite low-carb fruits, they also pack in some unexpected flab-fighting benefits. A Washington State University study discovered that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, converted the excess white fat into calorie-burning beige fat, decreasing obesity by 40 percent! And all you need is just three servings of resveratrol a day. Luckily, grapes aren’t the only source: apples and berries contain the fat-fighter too!
Go ahead and pour yourself another glass of red. Just make sure you’re sipping on Malbec, Petite Sirah, St. Laurent or Pinot Noir, as these vinos have the highest content of waist-whittling resveratrol. Although a five-ounce glass of merlot packs in just 122 calories, imbibing too much can rack up the calories and leave you hungover and craving a greasy egg sandwich (which we all know wouldn’t work wonders on your weight loss goals).
Let’s face it, kale is completely overrated. But dinosaur kale, a.k.a. black or lacinato kale, on the other hand, is its lesser-known cousin that’s equally as deserving of acclamation. Dinosaur kale’s blue-green leaves are less bitter and more tender than the regular kind, but boast the same flat belly properties, like filling fiber, protein, and B vitamins that can help you get rid of the gut.
It seems like green tea has a bit of competition when it comes to shedding the beer belly. According to a study published in the journal Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, white tea both blocks the formation of new fat cells and boosts lipolysis, the breakdown of fat. What’s more, white tea contains catechins, natural antioxidants that protect your body from harming free radicals and confidence-dampening belly fat.
Sneaking pepitas into some of your favorite foods is one of the best ways to increase protein intake. Not only do roasted pumpkin seeds contain eight grams of protein per ounce, they’re also packed with fiber, zinc, and potassium—key nutrients needed for muscle building and recovery. Remember, the more muscle you have, the less fat your body will hold on to.
If you’ve never heard of this fermented Chinese tea, it’s time to add it to your a.m. routine. A study in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that feeding obese mice a high-fat diet coupled with pu-erh tea extract decreased their total body weight and cholesterol levels.
These bite-sized berries are as mighty as they are tiny. In a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, blueberries were shown to reduce abdominal fat, triglycerides, and total body weight. A review in the journal Nutrients also noted blueberry consumption is inversely related to obesity. Next time you’re making a yogurt parfait, don’t forget to toss in some blueberries!
If you like to start your day with oatmeal, we’re definitely commending you. But you’re better off getting introduced to oat bran, oatmeal’s overachieving cousin. Oat bran boasts even more protein and fiber—6 grams of protein and fiber each per 120 calories—which means you’ll feel fuller for longer, and avoid the soft, tempting whispers of office donuts lurking around.
Pickles are filled with water, vinegar, and fiber, and barely any calories! In fact, just one cup of the pickled cucumbers pack in two grams of fiber for only 16 calories. Not to mention, studies show that acidic foods like vinegar help increase the body’s carb-burning rate by up to 40 percent. Once your body burns off carbs, it moves onto torching fat, which can help you finally rock your skinny jeans muffin top-free.
To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, freshly grind your flaxseeds right before using them. Just one tablespoon has about 2.3 grams of fat-blasting ALA, making it a wholesome oatmeal topper. Flaxseeds are also rich in fiber, which can help you lose your gut. A Annals of Internal Medicine study found that by increasing the amount of fiber you eat each day to 30 grams while keeping calories the same, you can lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve your body’s insulin response.
Whether you’re adding them to your breakfast bowl or noshing on them to beat the 2 p.m. slump, sunflower seeds are a great way to get in your daily dose of magnesium—a nutrient that helps the body release fat from its stores. “Sunflower seeds and sunbutter are two great belly-busters,” says registered dietitian Lauren Slayton, MS, RD of Foodtrainers. “The type of fat in the seeds have been shown to reduce abdominal fat in women with no other change in diet.”
Piperine, a fat-frying compound found in black pepper, has been shown to trigger adipogenesis in human cells and increase fat metabolism in mice, resulting in a decrease in waist size, body fat, and cholesterol levels. Fortunately for those who’ve set a goal to ditch the gut, you can sprinkle black pepper on practically anything! Start with these 35 Slow Cooker Recipes for Weight Loss.
Good news chocoholics: you can now bite into another square sans guilt. Louisiana State University researchers found that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can reduce overall body fat and shrink your waistline, thanks to the dessert’s heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Before you go on a cocoa spree, make sure you buy a bar with at least 70 percent cacao and avoid bars that list “alkalized” chocolate in their ingredients (those have a significantly reduced flavonoid content).
Just half a cup of quinoa has 12 grams of hunger-quelling protein and fiber, as well as all nine amino acids—making it a complete protein. It’s also a potent source of gut-busting nutrients like zinc and magnesium. Additionally, quinoa has the highest level of betaine, according to a Food Chemistry study. Why is that important? Well, a Nutrients study linked betaine supplementation to a revved metabolism and inhibition of fat production, which can get you to lose your gut for good.
Just like white tea, green tea contains powerful catechins that can rev your metabolism significantly. In fact, a study by Japanese researchers found that participants who consumed 690 milligrams (about one bottle) of catechins via green tea daily had significantly lower BMIs and smaller waist measurements than those who didn’t sip. An Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention report found that the average daily intake of catechins in Japanese men and women were 110 and 157 milligrams, respectively, so you’ll have to up your tea game if you’re interested in reaping the benefits.
Asparagus can help you score the body you’ve been dreaming of thanks to its plethora of benefits like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber. The best part? Just a cup of these skinny spears have nearly three grams of hunger-quelling protein and fiber each for just 27 calories!
Eating an entire eggplant may seem intimidating at first (have you noticed how huge they are?), but it’s totally doable—and recommended! Just one unpeeled eggplant contains 5.3 grams of muscle-maintaining protein and a walloping 16 grams of fiber for just 137 calories! Not sure how to give this nutritional superstar a go? Grill an eggplant with a drizzle of olive oil and munch on it as a snack or toss it atop your favorite healthy pizza.
We love Greek yogurt because of its ultra-rich creaminess and protein punch, but kefir just takes the tang to the next level. Beyond the satiety-inducing protein, the probiotics in kefir can help rev your weight loss efforts. A Food & Nutrition Research study found that these good bacteria species (like L. casei) boosted the breakdown of fat molecules in mice and prevented them from packing on the pounds. Although the study was conducted on rats, there’s no reason for us not to add some creamy kefir to our diets.
Each slice of grapefruit you add to your salad acts like a match to spark your body’s fat-burning ability. A study published in the journal Metabolism found that those who ate grapefruit for six weeks lost a full inch off their waistlines. What’s behind the gut-busting effect? The fruit is rich in phytochemicals, bioactive compounds that recent research shows stimulate the production of a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of body fat.
Kamut, a lesser known grain native to the Middle East, is bursting with slimming omega-3 fatty acids while boasting a high protein count and remaining low in calories. Not only can kamut help you say good riddance to the gut, it also reduces cholesterol, blood sugar, and cytokines, which cause inflammation throughout the body, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Psst! Don’t tell quinoa, but kamut makes a delicious addition to any salad bowl!
Surprised? Although olive oil contains fat, it actually contains a type of healthy fat that has been found to decrease levels of fat-storing inflammation. According to a review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, a polyphenol only found in unrefined extra virgin olive oil—oleocanthal—reduces inflammation in a similar way that ibuprofen does: it prevents the production of two pro-inflammatory enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. Lower levels of inflammation on the inside of your body means less belly fat on the outside.
Unless you’re going low carb for a few days (we don’t recommend it for longer periods of time), there’s no reason not to pop a potato into the oven. In an Australian study that measured the satiating index of 38 popular foods, researchers discovered that potatoes were not only more filling and satisfying than diet no-nos like doughnuts and cake, they also ranked higher than healthy picks like brown rice and oatmeal. In fact, participants reported eating less food throughout the day when they consumed these potassium and fiber-rich spuds.
Lentils are one of the most affordable plant protein sources out there that also work to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, promote fat metabolism, and quell that ravenous appetite. Because lentils are a resistant starch, their slow-digesting fiber triggers the release of acetate, a molecule in the gut that signals the brain to put the fork down. Don’t believe us? An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition systematic review of clinical trials on dietary pulses found that people who ate a daily serving of lentils, just about 3/4 cup, felt an average 31 percent fuller for longer, compared to those who didn’t munch on them. They were also linked to weight loss and reduced body fat percentage.
If kimchi’s only on your menu at your favorite Korean BBQ spot, consider adding this fermented food to your diet ASAP. Why’s that? Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea found that the probiotics found in kimchi can suppress weight gain significantly. To come to this finding, researchers fed rats a high-fat diet, then fed one group probiotics found in kimchi (Lactobacillus brevis) and reported that the organism suppressed the diet-induced weight gain by 28 percent! Reap these waist-whittling benefits by shopping for sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, too.
If you thought salmon was king of the sea when it comes to omega-3s, you haven’t met sardines. Studies show that these heart-healthy fatty acids can improve everything from your cholesterol profile to your mood to your ability to ward off Alzheimer’s and even weight gain. Not to mention, you can likely find a can of this skinny fish for under $2 at your local grocery store!
Tired of plain old chicken breast? Low-cal cottage cheese is a dietary superstar when it comes to adding a hefty dose of protein to your diet. It’s also considered a complete protein, since it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly—so you can totally spoon the cheesy goodness on its own.
Forget losing weight if your stress hormones are out of whack. When we’re stuck in a hair-pulling situation, the body starts producing the hormone cortisol, which encourages the belly to store fat. Good thing red peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C, a micronutrient that your body uses to decrease levels of the fat-storing hormone cortisol and boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.
Here’s another reason to stack a hearty PB&J sandwich: According to a recent study presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference, researchers found that when protein is digested and broken down into amino acids in your body, one of those amino acids—phenylalanine—triggers hormones that help reduce appetite and ultimately leads to fat burn and weight loss. Just remember, stick to the two-tablespoon serving size (yup, that means refraining from gobbling down the entire jar in one sitting!) to reap its belly-shrinking benefits. For a quick and delicious snack that’ll keep you full for hours, dip apples into peanut butter and munch the hunger away. Look to our guide of the best and worst peanut butter to pick your new favorite jar.