When it comes to achieving a flat stomach or “six pack,” strength training, abdominal work, and cardiovascular exercise are only part of the must-do’s for toning up your midsection. Those abs will remain hidden unless you’re also eating the right foods (and drinking an optimal amount of water, too). While we should all avoid eating white flour, sugar, and fried and salty foods when trying to lose weight or lean out, incorporating certain foods into your healthy eating plan will help blast belly fat.
*Food suggestions are below, but as with any diet, always consult your physician or Registered Dietitian on your individual health and/or nutrition needs and goals.
Asparagus: Not only is asparagus low in calories and high in fiber, it’s full of filling protein and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains a prebiotic called inulin. which supports digestion and the growth of “good bacteria” in the GI tract to decrease bloating. Enjoy it steamed or roasted a few times a week to experience these benefits.
Cucumber: Another low-calorie. high-fiber veggie, cucumber also has a high water content, which can positively support weight loss (as you’ll see in the “water”
section below). With only 45 calories in one whole cucumber, as part of a healthy meal or snack, it decreases bloating and exhibits anti-inflammatory effects in the GI tract.
Greek Yogurt: Since this thick version of yogurt is strained, it has double the tummy-filling protein while being lower in la than regular yogurt It also contains “good bacteria” or probiotics to aid digestion and decrease bloating. Those with lactose intolerance are often able to tolerate Greek yogurt (unlike other dairy products). Plus, it’s a great source of calcium and slows the body’s production of cortisol, which can increase belly fat.
Good Fats: Olive Oil & Avocado: Both olive oil and avocado are healthy sources of monounsaturated fats. Healthy fats in moderation not only support the feeling of being satiated, they may even help burn more fat while storing less fat in your midsection. They also help control blood sugar and improve overall cholesterol levels, and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to support digestion and a flatter stomach.
Protein: Wild Salmon & Eggs: Salmon is high in Omega 3’s or “good fat.” Both protein and fat take longer to digest in the body, thus helping you feel satiated longer – less hungry = less munching on extra calories. Research has shown that the Omega-3’s found in salmon and other fish may help the body burn, not store, fat. Also, wild salmon has 4x the Vitamin D as farmed salmon. Insufficient consumption of this vitamin (via foods and/or the sun) has been linked to obesity. Eggs are also a great source of protein and Vitamin D. Studies have shown that those who start their day with eggs feel more full and eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Almonds: High in protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fat almonds are a great snack to battle cravings and keep you satiated. They lower blood sugar and cholesterol, help reduce the risk of weight gain, decrease weight and body fat and aid in building muscle.
Apple: Apples aren’t just high in water and fiber, they’re also a “slow food” It can take 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that it’s full so by consuming foods that take longer to eat this realization occurs before we overeat. Crunching and chewing keep your mouth busy (and happy!). Apples also keep you feeling full, improve blood sugar and hormone levels, and aid “good” GI bacteria and digestion.
Along with these belly-slimming foods, don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
Water helps with weight loss and a flat stomach a few different ways. First of all, note that 75% of the times you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. So before you reach for a snack, make sure you are well-hydrated Sufficient water intake also prevents dehydration · dehydrated bodies retain water. While water needs vary among individuals (climate, activity level, etc.}, you’ll know you are drinking enough and you’re not dehydrated when your urine is clear or light yellow in color· eight cups a day is just a guideline.
Water also aids in digestion: It moves food through your GI tract to prevent constipation and bloating. But please note, seltzer water can cause increased gas and bloat, so stick to flat water. Try “infused water” by adding cucumber and mint or lemon/lime/grapefruit/orange slices to a glass or pitcher of water to keep it interesting and refreshing!
Over the course of a lifetime, we will be exposed to thousands of foreign compounds that can enter our bodies through the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and directly through our skin or eyes. To make matters worse, many of us have substituted healthy meals with a poor diet that lacks nutritional value to fuel to body’s detoxifying capacity. All of these factors contribute to an accumulation of toxins, or what is simply called toxicity.
Are you feeling tired or out of sync? Having fatigue, brain fog, headaches, difficulty sleeping, depression or anxiety? Skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema or acne? Joint or muscle pain, stomach issues such as gastric reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or irritable bowel problems? Have you been diagnosed with medical conditions such as migraine headaches, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, insomnia, depression, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or chemical sensitivity syndrome? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to consider detoxification as the key to unlocking the door to health and wellness.
Detoxification is about removing and eliminating toxins. It is about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out. Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of the individual cells, the smallest units of human life. Detoxification allows toxins to be eliminated from your liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system and skin.
Most of the body’s detoxification in done in the gut (intestines), kidneys and liver. The skin and lungs also play a significant role. Overall detoxification is heavily nutrient-dependent whereby key steps are fueled by vitamins, minerals and other major food components. Some of the key nutrients involved with detoxification include: zinc, pantothenic acid, vitamins, amino acids, L-glutamine, taurine, and N-acetylcysteine.
A detox diet is NOT a “cleanse”. Robin will guide you through a detox diet customized to meet your calorie and protein needs. This is not a juice only diet, and in fact, includes many fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. You will not feel hungry or weak on this diet if you follow the guidelines given. Other symptoms such as headache and fatigue may occur at the beginning as the toxins are leaving the body. Detox diets, also known as elimination diets, can be used to determine food allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating food groups, then slowly putting them back into the diet, it will be easily noted which foods cause negative reactions in the body.
How a detox diet works
Detox diets typically run 7 days to 28 days (one month) in length. You will start by gradually eliminating foods in your diet, while continuing to consume high-antioxidant and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Although these diets are not directly intended for weight loss, they may allow fluid and actual weight to be lost due to their strict nature. Detox diets may be a good jump start to kick off your healthy lifestyle change.
Start today! Contact Robin Barrie to learn more about creating a healthy lifestyle and recharging your body.
Healthy Foods Eaten on a Detox Diet:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Lettuce and Spinach
Check out my interview with Coach Kev Dineen on gluten:
Recently I sat down with one of New York City’s best Registered Dietitians, Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN, CSSD, to discuss, among many things, gluten. This misunderstood and often blamed food ingredient is an important nutrient, so what exactly is it? Hopefully our conversation will help explain gluten and its role in (or out) of your diet.
Coach Kev: Hi Robin! Thanks again for sitting down and taking the time to discuss, of all things, GLUTEN! What exactly is Gluten?
Robin Barrie: My pleasure! First of all, Gluten is protein made from 2 other protein molecules, gliaden and glutenin, and found in the endosperm, or inside, of the wheat seed, and other related grains, including wheat and barley.
CK: Okay, you’re definitely starting to go scientific here, but it’s clear you know your stuff Robin! Let’s keep it simple – what are some of the most common foods eaten by the everyday person that contain gluten?
RB: Gluten is found in:
• All varieties of wheat, including einkorn, emmer, spelt and kamut.
• All forms of wheat, including wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat and hydrolyzed wheat protein.
• All flours that contain wheat, including plain flour, white flour, bromated flour, enriched flour, self-rising flour, durum flour, farina, semolina, and graham flour.
• All forms of rye and barley.
• Cross-bred grain varieties, such as triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
• Some oats may contain gluten due to cross-contamination with wheat, barley, or rye during growing, harvesting and processing procedures.
Some common, obvious gluten-containing foods are: flour, bread, cake, pizza, bagels, cookies, muffins, cereals, pretzels, pasta, dessert, and some alcoholic beverages.
CK: What are some UNCOMMON foods that contain gluten?
RB: Other sources of gluten aren’t so obvious. It is often added to processed foods due to its structural properties of providing stability and chewiness to these items. These include:
• Vegetarian, vegan, and Japanese imitation “meats”: chicken, fish, duck, pork, beef, seitan
• Ice cream
• Bouillon cubes
• Brown rice syrup
• Candy, licorice
• Cured meats: cold cuts, hot dogs, salami, sausage
• Communion wafers
• French fries
• Malt (malt syrup, malt extract, malted milk and malt vinegar)
• Matzo and matzo meal
• Modified food starch
• Seasoned snack foods (tortilla chips, potato chips)
• Self-basting turkey
• Soups, sauces, gravies, soy sauce
****Note that not all forms of the above items contain gluten. You must read labels carefully and/or you can consult with your Registered Dietitian if you are trying to avoid gluten and you are uncertain about some foods.
CK: Wow. What a list. It’s crazy to see how many products can actually contain gluten. How might someone know if they are sensitive to gluten?
RB: Those who have gluten sensitivities, wheat (gluten) allergies or Celiac Disease, could suffer a variety of reactions upon consuming gluten ranging from mild to severe gastrointestinal discomfort, to dermatitis (skin rashes), and anaphylactic shock.
Range of Symptoms:
• Stuffed nose, congestion
• Swelling of face, throat, tongue
• Tingling or scratchy sensation in mouth, throat
• Digestive trouble: bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
• Decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting
• Anaphylactic shock
CK: Some of those might not be noticeable just by eating one specific food, so why are some people showing the effects by consuming gluten and not others?
RB: Only those with gluten sensitivity, allergy, or Celiac Disease will suffer from the above side effects.
CK: What is Celiac disease and who is affected by it?
RB: It is an autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals of all ages. Its cause is unknown, and it can occur at any time from infancy to old age. It is more common in Caucasians, those of European decent, and women. About 1 in 250 people are estimated to have it in the United States, but only about 1 in 3000 are currently diagnosed.
The immune system reacts when gluten is consumed by damaging the villi of the intestine lining, causing malabsorption of foods, vitamins, and minerals. This can lead to symptoms including: diarrhea, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, and failure to thrive. Celiac disease can be diagnosed with an antibody blood test and more definitively with an intestinal biopsy.
Those who are diagnosed MUST read all food and medication labels, and be certain that plates, utensils, and food-preparation surfaces are clean, sanitized, and free of all gluten-containing items. This makes it extremely difficult to eat out in restaurants, unless they are designated as gluten-free establishments.
CK: Not to advocate drinking, but which alcoholic drinks are gluten-free?
RB: Those who do suffer from Celiac disease or a gluten allergy can still indulge in moderate consumption of alcohol. All the below are some examples of gluten-free drinks. (This is not an exclusive list.):
• Wine and champagne (Wine coolers may contain barley malt and are NOT gluten-free.)
• Tequila: Jose Cuervo
• Whiskey: Jack Daniels
• Rum: Captain Morgan, Bacardi, Malibu
• Vodka: Absolut, Smirnoff, Zodiac (Some Smirnoff flavored varieties are NOT gluten-free. Check labels!)
• Gluten-free beers: Redbridge, Bard’s Tale, New Grist, Rampo Valley Honey Beer, New Planet Tread Lightly Ale
CK: Let’s say someone doesn’t have Celiac, but they notice Gluten sensitivity after they eat certain foods. What physical changes can you expect by avoiding gluten? And how often should they avoid gluten in a given day?
RB: A gluten-free diet is necessary for those who are allergic to prevent allergenic symptoms. It is also important to heal the intestines of those with Celiac disease and prevent further damage. This may take 3-6 months in children and 2-3 years in adults. Permanent intestinal damage is rare, but some side effects can remain, including shorter height and damaged tooth enamel (due to poor nutrient absorption).
Those who are attempting a gluten-free diet in attempt to lose weight may drop some pounds due to the fact that they are eliminating many high-carbohydrate, processed food items, fried foods, and desserts. If these items are replaced with unprocessed whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, this will lead to a healthier diet, increase energy and health benefits.
HOWEVER, if you are not sensitive or allergic to wheat or do not suffer from Celiac disease, there is no reason to avoid whole grain wheat, barley, rye, and oats. I would not recommend a gluten-free diet for weight loss; I would instead suggest eating as above: unprocessed grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. More attention has been brought to gluten-free diets due to the increased incidence and diagnosis of Celiac disease and wheat allergies, but it is more of a FAD than a FAB way to lose weight!
If you think you may be sensitive to gluten-containing foods, you can try what is called an Elimination Diet, where you remove all potential allergens and sensitive foods from the diet and then add them back in one at a time.
Consult your Registered Dietitian or Robin Kaiden for more information on this or other Nutrition-related topics.
Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN, CSSD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics with a private practice in New York, NY. She has been successfully assisting her clients in meeting their personal wellness, nutrition, weight loss, and exercise needs for over ten years.
Robin’s extensive experience includes working at New York City’s leading hospitals, consulting for top medical specialists, training clients at state-of-the-art fitness centers in Manhattan and counseling amateur to professional athletes for sport performance. Her specialties range from weight loss, anti-aging, and beauty regimens to guiding parents in feeding their children with allergies and picky eating habits. She received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nutrition and Exercise Science from Cornell and Columbia Universities.
Robin’s focus is to change people lives. From physical fitness to medical issues requiring strict diets, Robin will create an individualized program for you to maximize your health and give you the self-confidence to achieve and maintain your goals.
Contact Robin for more information:
Until Next time,
Coach Kevin Dineen is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in NYC. He works primarily with those interested in enhancing their daily lives and activities with exercise as one tool to live a happier, longer life. In addition, his expertise allows him to work closely with many physical therapists and doctors in the NYC area, coordinating post-rehabilitation protocols for many patients and clients. He can be reached email@example.com or on his website, http://www.coachkevdineen.com.