If you’ve set a weight loss goal for yourself, you may be aware of the frustration that comes with trying to lose fat specifically in your abdominal region. This type of fat around your belly, also known as visceral fat, can be stubborn and difficult to target. However, it is also one of the more dangerous types of fat, as carrying too much of it can lead to diseases and other health complications. If you’re looking for help with this part of your weight loss plan, you may benefit from learning about specific foods linked to belly fat loss.
“Certain foods can contribute to weight loss which, over time, may reduce belly fat,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN. “For instance, foods high in protein, fiber, and good fats such as avocados, eggs, lean meats, and whole grains can support metabolism.”
Let’s look at how protein, fiber, and healthy fats can contribute specifically to belly fat loss. According to a report published in Nutrition & Metabolism, consuming high-quality protein was associated with lower levels of abdominal fat and waist circumference. This can be due to several reasons, including the fact that protein can reduce hunger hormones, increase lean muscle mass, and lower cravings.
Lastly, the consumption of healthy fats—aka monounsaturated—is known to help reduce overall body fat. According to Missouri Medicine, specifically replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fat can help lower body fat levels.
Even though foods higher in protein, fiber, and healthy fats can help with your belly fat loss goals, it takes a balanced approach to accomplish this. Manaker emphasizes “that no single food can directly target belly fat.” She says that instead, it’s “A balanced diet, combined with regular exercise and adequate sleep, that is the most effective strategy for healthy weight loss.”
While there aren’t foods that burn belly fat on their own, the following list of foods can help with visceral fat loss by adding to a balanced diet full of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other helpful nutrients. Read on, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 7 Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Reduce Inflammation.
If you need some lean protein that is going to help keep you full and aid in your goals of losing belly fat, some lean beef is an easy and delicious option.
“Protein helps you get full faster, increases feelings of fullness after meals, and supports muscle maintenance, which can lead to a slightly elevated metabolism,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD. “It also has a high thermic effect, meaning it burns more calories during digestion.”
Protein is important for aiding in belly fat loss, and so is fiber. A food that is high in fiber (4 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup) and provides enough staying power to get you to the next meal is oats.
“High in beta-glucan fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats provide sustained energy and can help control hunger,” says Goodson. “They can also help stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of overeating or craving sugar in the hours following a meal.”
According to a study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition, there is a large body of evidence to support the fact that the beta-glucan found in oats can help reduce adiposity (also known as abdominal obesity) by way of better gut health, increased satiety, and gastric emptying.
According to Goodson, Greek yogurt is an excellent belly fat-burning food because it is high in protein and low in sugar. For example, there are about 20 grams of protein and seven grams of sugar in the average 7-ounce container of low-fat Greek yogurt. “High in protein, Greek yogurt can help control appetite and support muscle maintenance,” she says.
“Plus, the probiotics in yogurt may promote a healthier gut microbiome, which has been linked to weight management,” says Goodson. For instance, a 2021 study published in the American Society for Microbiology concluded that your gut microbiota can influence your weight loss process, meaning that the health of your gut is a crucial component of your weight loss journey.