A few small changes really can slim your midsection, but not because foods can “burn” belly fat. “I hate to bust the bubble on this one, but flat belly foods aren’t exactly a thing — especially when it comes to the idea that you can ‘spot train’ certain areas of your body through the foods you eat,” says Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
That said, some easy tweaks can reduce bloating and set you up for healthier habits both now and in the long term, without resorting to crazy (and dangerous) dieting techniques.
“Consider adding sources of potassium, calcium, and magnesium to your diet, and cutting back on sneaky sources of sodium,” London says.
The easiest place to start: Make your daily snacks veggie- and fruit-based, like an apple with nut butter; crudites with hummus and tzatziki, berries with yogurt, or swap a sweet potato or leftover roasted squash for bread in a sandwich. This naturally ups the mineral content and provides extra fiber for fewer grams of sodium overall.”
For short-term debloating, she advises going easy on the cruciferous veggies (like kale and broccoli), legumes, and leafy greens.
Even though they’re extremely a nutritious choice most of the time, these fiber-rich foods can lead to some gas pain depending on how hydrated you are and how much fiber you usually eat.
But if your goal is to lose weight overall, eating more real, wholesome foods and getting active is always a smart way to go. In the meantime, try these easy, science-backed changes for a flatter belly:
Go to bed earlier.
Getting under the covers a little sooner doesn’t just help you avoid late-night snacking. Missing out on a full night’s rest slows down your body’s metabolism, so if you want to rev up your calorie burn, plan on getting at least seven hours of shuteye.
2. Don’t skip meals.
Another metabolism-boosting tip: Eat every three to four hours, and that should include making time for breakfast. Research shows that people who miss a morning meal experience a surge in a hunger-related hormone later in the day. Regular snacks (which should include fiber-filled complex carbs and protein!) will keep you feeling full and your body burning cals at a steady rate.
3. Perfect your posture.
Straighten up and your figure look better right away, advises The Biggest Loser trainer Kim Lyons. “When your posture is good, you’re automatically engaging and toning your stomach muscles,” she says. If you need to remind yourself to stand tall, a few strategically placed sticky notes should do the trick.
4. Sip more water.
Keep those fluids coming! “Being dehydrated causes the body to hoard water,” Lyon says, leading you to carry up to four excess pounds around your midsection. Aim for at least eight cups of water or other fluids daily.
Yep, you read that right. High-water foods like fruits and veggies will fill you up faster, London says. Start your meal with soup, salad, or her favorite pick: pre-dinner sliced crudité and spicy hummus. The combo of capsaicin (a spice in hot peppers) and the chickpeas’ soluble fiber can help curb hunger.