Having a flat stomach is about much more than just looking good and feeling good about how our bodies look. The excess belly fat that is common among many Americans creates health risks too. Belly fat leads to increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases more so than fat in other places such as our hips and thighs. No matter what we eat, the formula for a flat stomach has to include the number of calories consumed being somewhat equal to the number we burn off. Food is simply fuel for the body. If we put more in than our bodies can use up, then it stores up as fat. The alternative is to increase our activity level and use up more. There are some foods though that have been shown to be helpful in getting that flat stomach. Eating flat belly foods can help us get that flat stomach and improve our overall health. What are flat belly foods? Here are some of the types of food that can help achieve our goal of a flat stomach.
It may sound strange to say that eating fat will help keep you from getting fat, but many researchers have found just that. That doesn’t mean all fats, it applies specifically to monounsaturated fats. Stay away from the greasy fast food and other foods with trans fats. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 20-35% of your calorie intake be these foods with the “good” fats.
Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Prevention and Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, former nutrition director at Prevention recommend in their book, Flat Belly Diet, that sticking with 1600 calories a day will help you get a flat stomach and still have energy, a healthy immune system, and keep muscle strong. Part of the secret of this diet is eating foods with monounsaturated fatty acid in every meal as they indicate that these types of fats actually help reduce belly fat. This is the type of good fats found in foods like peanut butter, olive oil, and avocados. They also emphasize eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, lean protein, and very little red meat and avoiding processed foods.
There is research that reports eating foods loaded with soluble fiber can help get you that flat stomach. Eating fiber makes you feel fuller so you don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied. Less calories in of course mean less calories to burn up. Foods high in fiber include beans, fruits, whole grains and vegetables. Some of the foods with the highest amounts of fiber are artichokes, split peas, lentils, black beans, raspberries and barley.
Your digestive system needs healthy friendly bacteria to digest your food. If you do not have enough of these bacteria working for you, your digestion is slowed and bloating occurs as well as having undigested food causing belly bulges. Flat belly foods that are good sources of probiotics vital to this digestion process are yogurt and kefir. When buying yogurt or kefir, make sure you read the labels and get ones with live active cultures. You can also add a full spectrum probiotic supplement to your diet. Our favorite probiotic supplement has twelve key good bacteria that are microblended with bluegreen algae.
You need protein to build strong muscle and maintain muscle integrity and strength. This doesn’t mean chowing down on lots of steaks and hamburgers though that have a lot of fat if you are seeking a flat stomach. Good proteins come from lean sources such as beans, soy, and dairy, and if you need a meat fix then opt for white meat chicken or seafood. Be sure to take the skin off the chicken before cooking as it contains lots of saturated fat. If you notice that you are losing weight, but not dropping in waist size, this can be an indication that you need more protein or need strength training, according to Alan Aragon, a nutritionist in Westlake Village, California (http://ow.ly/qkrkZ).
Protein powder drinks are another good source of protein. Studies such as one in The Journal of Nutrition are showing benefits of choosing whey powder over soy. In this study it is reported that those who added whey protein to their diets showed less body fat and smaller waists than those that used soy protein.
Personally, I love getting protein with smoothies. They are easy and fast to make, and easy to take with you when you are on the run. I can add in fruit or veggies for some extra fiber and antioxidants, some yogurt for probiotics and protein and my favorite organic whey protein powder for a real boost. This protein powder has bluegreen algae for extra nutritional value, sprouts, and protein digesting enzymes.
Metabolism Boosting Foods
Increasing your metabolism can also help burn fat and get you closer to your goal of a flat stomach. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that creates a sensation of heat from irritating nerve endings. It is mostly found in various types of peppers and has been found to give a boost to metabolism. Green tea is another metabolism booster. Some studies have reported an increase in metabolism of 4-10% when drinking two to four cups of green tea a day. Staying hydrated also helps keep your metabolism working at its peak. Being even mildly dehydrated can slow down your metabolism, so be sure you are drinking plenty of water.
For a natural and healthy way to keep your metabolism high and your fat content low, add enzymes to your regimen between and at meals. Enzymes help boost your metabolism. These enzymes contain amylase, cellulase, lipase, protease, and lactase for more efficient digestion to avoid the after-meal energy slump. These enzymes with an extra boost contain cayenne and other substances to increase metabolism, burn fat, digest a broad spectrum of substances, and clean up waste in the body.
We typically think of dairy foods as being fattening, but not getting enough can actually lead to your body making more fat. This is explained in a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as calcitriol, a compound that increases fat cell production, being stimulated by a lack of calcium. You can actually go further towards getting a flat stomach by making sure you get extra calcium.
Yes, I know there are lots of snack bars out there that vary in protein, calories and overall nutrition. You really have to read labels and compare to make sure you are getting one with the right nutrients to fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied, but without adding a lot of extra calories or unnatural ingredients that you’ll have to now burn off. My favorite snack bar is made with high-quality, organic ingredients, is fortified with sprouted grains, greens, and bluegreen algae so I know I’m getting good nutritional value from it. It also has almond butter for a smooth texture and is sprinkled with minced almonds which helps make it great tasting as well as nutritious and convenient when I’m busy or on the run.
Now that you know some flat belly foods to get you on the way to a flat stomach, get started on burning away that belly fat for a healthier you.