You may have noticed that a lot of people that have excess fat in their abdominal region today, truly desire to burn off the fat and have a flat tummy. They have heard of various strategies and solution options, and have tried many of them ranging from dieting, doing regular exercises and taking food supplements. But the result is a far cry from what they really desire – a flat tummy.
Hence, the question “what is the best diet to lose belly fat fast?” has been a common thought lingering in the minds of such persons, begging for answers over the years. And this thought is borne out of the understanding that if one really wants to lose belly fat fast, apart from carrying out the recommended forms of exercise, having a diet – plan that is healthy and suitable for fat-burning is a key factor. But before we go further discussing the kind of diet that is suitable for losing belly fat fast, it is necessary that we talk about certain things that we need to know about belly fat first.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BELLY FAT
1. How Much Belly Fat Is Harmless For Your Body?
As humans, our body naturally accumulates fat on the internal surface of our abdomen, so that the fat can serve as cushion for the organs inside the tummy to keep them protected. This kind of fat is called subcutaneous fat (the fat just under the skin). And it is different from the other kind of belly fat called visceral fat – which is the fat that lies deep within the abdominal cavity surrounding the internal organs (liver, kidney, bladder, and other sensitive organs). It is this visceral fat that is really dangerous to our health.
Visceral belly fat fuels inflammation – a known trigger of premature aging and diseases. This is likely one reason why having more of this type of belly fat is linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, certain cancers, and even reduced cognitive functioning with aging.
However, having the right proportion of belly fat is not only harmless, but it is also protective to our vital organs inside the belly. But if you have more or extra abdominal fat, it’s probably an indicator that you have more visceral fat which would eventually put your health at risk. It is therefore necessary that you should know whether your belly fat is in excess or not.
The only surefire way to determine whether you have excess visceral fat is to get an MRI or a CT scan. But there seem to be a much simpler, low-cost way to check. According to some studies, having a waist measurement, using a measuring tape, showing your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you are a woman, and less than 40 inches if you are a man, is an indicator that your belly fat is both harmless and protective to your body.
2. Thin People Can Also Have It
Even if you are thin, you can still have too much visceral fat. How much of it you have, is determined partly by your genes, and partly by your lifestyle, especially how active you are.
It is important to note that excess visceral fat is risky for people who are not overweight or obese. In other words, even if your body mass index (BMI) is within the normal range, having excess visceral fat can put your health at risk. A 2019 study published in “The Journal Of The American Medical Association” (JAMA) found that among over 150,000 women, those whose weight fell into a healthy range, but had more belly fat, incurred a greater risk of dying from any cause, compared to healthy-weight women who did not accumulate fat in the midsection.
Visceral fat accumulates easily in people with inactive lifestyle. In one study, thin people who watched their diets but did not exercise were more likely to have too much visceral fat. So, the key is to be active, no matter what size you have.
Now Let’s come back to our main subject of discussion – what is the best diet to lose belly fat fast? The truth is that there is no magic diet for belly fat. But according to Helen Bond, an Expert dietitian at the Harley Medical Group. “There is a lot of ‘nutribabble’ out there, and the only thing that will help you achieve a slimmer belly in the long run is a sustainable food plan that includes a rich variety of natural whole foods and less processed foods, in appropriate sizes and moderation.”
And this view agrees entirely with one recent study that found that by simply improving your overall diet quality, you can curb belly fat accumulation. The researchers specifically looked at closer adherence to a Mediterranean diet, which involves nine components. These include eating more veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fish; eating more of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat from foods like extra virgin olive oil and avocado instead of animal-based saturated fat; and taking in less red meat and alcohol.
Some specific foods and nutrients have also been shown to help target belly fat, including a few Mediterranean diet staples. We are going to talk about five of them and how to incorporate each of these healthful foods into your usual eating routine. Thereafter, we will take a look at some other rich variety of natural whole foods and less processed foods that can actually help you to have a flat tummy.
Mediterranean Diet Staples That Can Curb Belly Fat Accumulation
Avocados are nutrient powerhouses that pack good fat in addition to fiber, antioxidants, and numerous vitamins and minerals—including potassium, a mineral that supports heart function and also helps to regulate blood pressure by acting as a natural diuretic, to sweep excess sodium and fluid out of the body.
A recent study shows that this satisfying fruit can also help attack belly fat. In the study, 111 adults were randomized into two groups. One group received one fresh avocado as part of a daily meal, while the second group ate the same number of calories as the first group, but without avocado. After three months, the avocado eaters experienced a reduction in visceral belly fat, an effect that was not seen in the control (avocado-free) group.
Even if you don’t eat a whole avocado daily, incorporating this good fat food into your diet more often is a smart, health-protective strategy. Whip avocado into a smoothie, mash and spread it on toast, sprinkle it onto salads, black bean tacos, lentil soup, or a baked potato, or just enjoy half of an avocado as an accompaniment to any meal. You can even puree avocado and incorporate into chocolate pudding!
Nuts, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, provide healthful fat in addition to plant protein, antioxidants, fiber, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Among them are many nutrients, adults tend to fall short of, like magnesium, which supports mental health and sleep.
Government tracking data shows that adults who regularly eat a daily average of at least a quarter ounce of tree nuts—including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, filberts (hazelnuts), macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts—have a lower BMI and blood pressure than non-nut eaters. They also have smaller waist measurements, an indicator of belly fat reduction.
If you are not allergic or sensitive to nuts, they are easy to add to nearly any meal or snack. Blend nut butter into a smoothie, add nuts or drizzle nut butter into overnight oats, sprinkle nuts onto salads, cooked veggies, and stir fries, snack on nuts as is or combined with fruit. You can even whip up a batch of energy balls by combining nut butter and chopped nuts with add-ins like oats, cinnamon, minced dried fruit, and chopped dark chocolate.
I have always considered lentils to be one of the most underrated super foods on the planet. In addition to being naturally gluten-free, affordable, eco-friendly, versatile, and satisfying, lentils are incredibly nutritious. They are full of plant protein, key minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, and they are king when it comes to fiber.
A classic study that tracked belly fat among adults over a five-year period found that for each 10 gram increase in soluble fiber consumed, the rate of visceral fat accumulation decreased by 3.7%. One cup of cooked lentils provides 14 grams of fiber, with about half as soluble fiber, the type that’s also known to help support bowel regularity and lower cholesterol.
Go for lentils in place of meat as the protein source in your meal, seasoned with herbs and combined with extra virgin olive oil, a generous portion of veggies, and a small serving of healthy starch from sweet potato or fingerling potato, spaghetti squash, or quinoa. Add lentils to a salad, make a simple lentil curry, an instant lentil soup, or transform these gems into meatless meatballs or a lentil loaf.
4. Whole grains
Whole grains are actually health-protective in a number of ways, including a reduction in belly fat. A Research that involved more than 2,800 participants of the Framingham Heart Study found that whole-grain intake was inversely related with both subcutaneous and visceral belly fat, whereas refined grains, like white bread, rice, and pasta, increased belly fat.
So try to consume moderate amounts of whole grains or portions that are in line with your energy demands (meaning smaller servings when you’re less active, and larger portions when you’re more active). Good options include oats at breakfast, quinoa added to a salad at lunch, and brown or wild rice added to a stir-fry at dinner. Homemade popcorn, which makes a great crunchy and filling snack, also counts as a whole grain.
5. Wild salmon
Vitamin D is important for a number of functions, including immunity, bone-density regulation, and mental health. Research also shows that a low blood vitamin D level is tied to an increase in both total body fat and visceral belly fat in both men and women.
Few foods are significant sources of vitamin D, and one of the best is wild salmon, which can be purchased fresh or in pouches and tins. A four-ounce portion of tinned salmon can provide 80% of the daily value for vitamin D. Add it to avocado toast at breakfast, salads at lunch, transform into salmon burgers, or toss with veggies, olives, and chickpea pasta for dinner.
If you do not like eating fish or salmon, look for foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, like certain plant milks, or consider taking a vitamin D supplement that provides 800-1000 IU of vitamin D daily.
OTHER VARIETIES OF NATURAL WHOLE FOODS AND LESS PROCESSED FOODS THAT TARGET BELLY FAT
1. Unprocessed carbs
Though there is a widespread propaganda that if you want to trim down you tummy, you must exclude carbs from your diet completely, research has shown that doing so would be counter-productive, because your body absolutely need carbohydrate. A closer look at how the human body functions, reveals that when the body lacks enough fats and carbohydrates to use for energy, it will begin the process of glycogenesis. Glycogenesis involves the release of cortisol for the breakdown of proteins in order to convert them into energy sources, thereby resulting an increase in your blood sugar level.
Thus, fueling up with unprocessed carbohydrates (e.g brown rice, quinoa, couscous and oats) 2-3 hours before a workout, and having simple sugar from fruits 30 minutes prior to an intense workout can help you avoid excess Cortisol production.
And after a strenuous workout your muscles may be depleted of glycogen and might need to refuel. Having a meal of healthy protein and unprocessed carbohydrate foods preferably within an hour of your workout would definitely minimize cortisol release and maximize protein synthesis.
But when taking carbohydrate foods, remember the caveat: Eat healthy, whole-grain, fiber rich vegetables, and whole fruits. And avoid processed carbohydrate foods.
Being a complete protein, quinoa contains the amino acid lysine, which helps to burn fat, along with betaine – a chemical that puts your metabolism into turbocharge mode and shuts down the genes that make belly fat linger.
3. Lean Protein
According to renowned nutritionist and author of “The Food Effect Diet”, Dr Michelle Braude, lean proteins like eggs, fish, pulses (e.g dry beans, peas, lentils and legumes), cottage cheese, chicken and turkey breast do not only prevent hunger, they also regulate cortisol levels – keeping your blood sugar level balanced. They also build your muscles while burning the fat you do not need. “These foods strengthen your immune system and muscles. And the more muscles you have, the more energy you burn,” says Dr Michelle, which is good news for your stubborn middle zone fat.
If you’ve ever tried to give up sugar (which likes to store itself round your mid-section), you might have read about chromium—a natural supplement that helps control blood sugar levels and curb the cravings. The good news is that you can add it to your plate of food easily in the form of broccoli and dark green veg.
Research has shown that those who have high levels of vitamin C burn 30% more fat when they exercise, so try to take some food sources of vitamin C (e.g oranges, grapefruit, red pepper and kiwi) before starting your workouts, and your abs might start to appear rather sooner than you expect.
Blueberries – rich in antioxidants and polyphenols (compounds that stop fat accumulate can actually reduce fat and trim down your tummy. In lab tests, rats who were fed blueberry powder, did not only lose belly fat but also had lower cholesterol, even when they were eating a high-fat diet. The same study from the University of Michigan also found that rats consuming red cherries burnt 9% more belly fat than those that did not.
As a natural diuretic, fennel can help you to get rid of excess water and bloating, resulting a flatter stomach. You can grate it onto salads, blitz it into soups or sip it on a fennel tea two to three times a day. Green tea has a similar effect, and it also contains an antioxidant called EGCG, which helps to boost your metabolism and prompt your body into using its fat reserves.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Though apple cider vinegar does not actually get rid of fat, it is another well-documented digestion aid that will de-bloat your tummy and certainly help flatten your belly area. Try adding some to a mug of hot water in the morning and your stomach will be better prepared to digest the food you are about to fill in later. And as long as it remains active in your stomach, it is less likely that your will accumulate more fat.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE THE POSITIVE EFFECT OF DIET ON BELLY FAT
Now that you have been exposed to the variety of natural whole foods and less processed foods that can actually help you to have a flat tummy, what should be your next line of thought? You should be thinking of how to maximize the positive effects of a good diet – plan on belly fat.
One of the best way to do that is to engage in regular body exercise – targeting abdominal fat, while maintaining a good diet. It will definitely have a multiplying desirable effect on your overall health, and you will see positive results within weeks, giving you a great shape with so much energy and flexibility and above all, a pleasurable sense of healthy feeling.
If you do not know the types of exercise that target your abdominal fat, you can take a look at my previous post titled “Easy Belly Fat Exercises – you can do at home to burn off your belly fat”
I hope to hear your comments on your experiences with the strategies explained in this post.
Until then, do have a great time!
To your success,