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.

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!

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