Here are 5 foods that fight belly fat, the Achilles heel of just about anyone who needs to shed a few pounds. While good food isn't the only way to rid weight through the midsection, it's incredibly effective at getting the wheels moving in the right direction. Here are a few foods that can really help you not just get rid of a little unwanted fat, but make your body healthier, too!
1) Apple Cider Vinegar
Earlier this year I was on Dr. Oz talking about the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV). To most people, it's one of those condimental foods you pass by on grocery store shelves, but don't think to pick up unless you need it for a recipe. A shot of ACV once a day might be just what you need to get your body moving in the right direction. For a couple of bucks, ACV is money well spent. It contains a host of vitamins, minerals and acetic acid. Acetic acid is what makes ACV shine by controlling appetite, increasing insulin sensitivity (a good thing), and helping to produce protein in the body that helps decrease fat storage.
Another great benefit of ACV is that it helps to make the blood more alkaline! Our body's pH should be slightly alkaline, but often times, unhealthy foods and stress create a more acidic environment. ACV turns the tables.
TIP: Only buy unfiltered ACV containing the "mother" to get the greatest benefit. Filtered vinegar just doesn't do the same thing! My favorite is Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, pictured above.
Personally, I take a shot of ACV all by itself. If that's too much, you can mix it with warm water and a *little* bit of honey.
2) Lemon Water
Our liver loves lemon. The connection between our liver and belly fat may not be immediately apparent, but they are indeed related. Our liver is a powerhouse of an organ that can take a beating. I like to think of the liver as an air filter; it can get clogged up if it's not maintained and cleaned. Lemon water helps to do that! Our liver secretes bile. Bile helps to break down fat. Lemon water can help to thin out bile and keep toxins flowing through your liver, then out of your body. As a result, fat metabolism becomes more optimal.
TIP: Juice one lemon, or simply add about two tablespoons of lemon juice to one cup of warm water. Drink every morning before you eat. Feeling ambitious? Try a one-two punch of one tablespoon ACV + one tablespoon lemon juice to water, and drink that instead!
3) Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are probably one of the best things we can add to our diet that have the ability to boost our immune system while improving our body's ecosystem. Fermented foods are an ideal source of probiotics that feed our intestines with good bacteria. A belly full of good bacteria equals a body that gets rid of a lot of garbage...literally. It's estimated that 70% of our immune system is in our gut. The health of our immune system is dictated not just by eating healthy, but eating healthy amounts of foods containing probiotics. Constipation, bloating, upset stomach could be the result of a lack of healthy bacteria.
TIP: It's turns out there is a strong link between bad bacteria and weight gain. Toxins from digested food that stays in our body for longer than they should get reabsorbed. It's not pretty, but if you're not pooping at least once a day, you're holding onto to more toxins than you should. Drink lots of water, take a probiotic and get your hands on some good fermented foods. There are plenty of good probiotics out there, but I've been really happy with Inner-Eco. It's a liquid and it actually tastes pretty good, too.
Foods containing higher levels of good bacteria include:
- Yogurt (check out this homemade yogurt recipe...it's really easy)
- Sourdough Bread (preferably homemade)
Keep in mind, a lot of store-bought sauerkrauts are made with vinegar and not fermented in brine, so if you can make your own, go for it! Here's a simple recipe. I've made mine using cabbage, sea salt and a crock pot. It's really that easy.
4) Vitamin C-Rich Foods
We all know that vitamin C does a great job buffing up our immune system, but did you know that C-rich foods also help to get a handle on our cortisol levels? Cortisol is a stress hormone released by our adrenal glands when we're "stressed out." Well, vitamin C helps us stress less. When we stress less, our cortisol levels are lower. When our cortisol levels are lower, we store less belly fat! So bring on the vitamin C.
TIP: Try to get your C from food sources, but if you're supplementing, keep in mind that the body can only metabolize about 500mg at a time. If you're taking a 1000mg tablets or more, you're paying for a more expensive trip to the bathroom. One way around that is to take 500mg in the morning and in the evening, or eat more of these vitamin C-containing foods:
- Red Peppers
- Collard Greens
- Red Cabbage
- Brussels Sprouts
5) Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
I know you know omega-3 fatty acids are good for you, but did you know that they help fight belly fat in a couple of really important ways? First of all, they reduce inflammation. If you have constant chronic inflammation, you'll have a very difficult time losing weight. In fact, some experts believe it's impossible to lose excessive belly fat without addressing chronic inflammation. There are a lot of foods that fight inflammation, but foods rich in omega-3s happen to be the holy grail. Second, similar to foods rich in vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce cortisol levels!
TIP: A little omega-3 goes a long way, but you do need to get some each and every day. A teaspoon of fish oil (I like Nordic Naturals) or cold pressed flaxseed oil provides a good amount. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Grass-Fed Meats
Like this? Now read about 5 of the best and worst BREAKFASTS for belly fat.
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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