How often do you hear about the latest, greatest tummy-fat-burning foods or supplement?
Whether it’s an ad online, a product endorsed by a celebrity, or food discussed on a talk show, we’re constantly flooded with nutritional products that claim to be miraculous for burning fat off your tummy.
Unfortunately, these glorified foods and supplements are no more efficient than an overnight “magic diet pill.”
These claims (and myths) have the ability to create much confusion and frustration when it comes to getting the true, lasting fat-burning results you’re looking for.
To be completely honest with you, there is no such thing as a tummy-fat-burning food.
However, there are foods that contain properties which help support the body’s natural ability to burn fat – especially around your midsection.
These are the belly-fat-burning foods that aren’t talked about nearly enough, and I recommend including them in your diet regularly to help support the fat-burning process.
The only way to truly lose weight and burn belly fat is by making specific, positive dietary changes.
These changes don’t include taking a famous new supplement, or eating the same food for one week straight. Instead, these foods have natural properties that help the body burn fat based on the actions they take in the body when digested.
For a food to truly be considered a belly-fat-burning food, it must do three things.
1. Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels.
One of the reasons people gain belly fat in the first place is because they are eating foods that dramatically spike and then crash blood sugar levels, such as white sugar.
When your bloodstream is constantly being flooded with processed sugar from baked goods, pasta, soda, and other processed foods, it must deal with the sugar that floats around in your bloodstream.
To do so, it releases the hormone insulin to bring the sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells. Any sugar that isn’t used for energy right away is stored in fat cells, which explains (in basic terms) why constant blood sugar fluctuations trigger tummy fat storage.
Therefore, the best belly-fat-burning foods are those that don’t cause a rapid spike and crash in blood sugar levels and, instead, help stabilize blood sugar.
Foods that contain plenty of fiber, protein, or healthy fats are the best fat-burning foods to eat to avoid fat storage and promote stable blood sugar levels.
These are also the best foods to eat to curb sugar cravings. The more stable your blood sugar levels are, the less sugar you crave.
And as you now understand, white sugar is the biggest culprit in promoting belly fat.
2. Curb Your Appetite.
When eating quick-digesting foods that contain very little fat, protein, or fiber, your appetite takes much longer to feel full and you’ll continue to eat until you’re satiated.
The quickest foods to digest are those that are high in refined sugar. They are the same foods that create a negative fluctuation in your blood sugar levels, such as white pasta, candy, cookies, and anything else made with white flour.
Processed carbohydrates also digest very quickly because they lose the majority of their fiber during the refining process.
Therefore, the best foods to eat to burn belly fat are those that take a longer time to digest and satisfy your appetite quickly- such as fiber, healthy fats and protein.
3. Improve Your Gut Health.
It can be challenging to lose belly fat if you have an unhealthy gut.
An unhealthy gut will contain an overgrowth of bad bacteria and lack sufficient good gut bacteria, which is needed to help support the digestive process.
The best belly fat burning foods will contain nutrients that aid the digestive process, such as prebiotics from fiber (which feed good gut bacteria) and probiotics from fermented foods.
Improving gut health is so critical to the belly fat burning process because it helps remove waste and harmful toxins from your digestive tract.
When your body holds on to waste and toxicity, it gets bogged down and has a hard time doing its many jobs efficiently – which include regulating hormones that promote fat storage and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Having a healthy gut also promotes a flat belly by improving the digestive process to reduce bloating and constipation.
Foods to Avoid if You Want to Burn Belly Fat
Now that you know which properties a true tummy-fat-burning food should have, let’s take a quick look at the foods that won’t burn belly fat, but are often referred to as metabolism-boosting foods.
There are many myths that claim certain foods such as cinnamon, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper have belly fat burning benefits.
If you look online, there are several fat-burning food or drink recipes that contain these ingredients. And while these foods do create heat in the body (also known as a process called thermogenesis, which is said to burn increased calories upon being metabolized), they cannot create an efficient enough belly fat burning effect on their own.
In order to get the belly-fat-burning properties from thermogenic foods, you’d have to be eating an unrealistic amount of them, all the time. How much cinnamon or cayenne pepper could a person possibly consume in a day?
That’s not to say you can’t include these foods in your diet for health reasons.
Thermogenic spices and foods do provide certain benefits to the body – like cleansing. Just don’t make the mistake of looking to them as the ultimate belly-fat burning cure. Instead, incorporate good foods for gut health that contain plenty of fiber, protein or healthy fats.
Check Out These 9 Tummy-Fat-Burning Foods
The best foods to burn tummy fat are going to reduce your body’s fat storage triggers and feed the good bacteria in your digestive system with fiber or probiotics.
Here are a list of 9 belly-fat-burning foods that no one talks about, which will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to burn fat more efficiently.
Papaya is a fibrous fruit that’s known for being rich in the plant digestive enzyme, papain. You can find papain supplements on health food store shelves, but what better way to get the benefits of papain than by eating a papaya itself?
Since papaya is fiber rich, it also contains prebiotics.
Prebiotics are a nutrient found in fiber that feeds your friendly gut bacteria. The fiber in papaya will help clean out your intestinal tract to safely eliminate toxins, waste and “sludge” that can naturally get stored in your gut during the digestive process – especially if you frequently consume refined sugar and processed foods.
Blueberries are another fiber-rich fruit that can help curb your appetite by making you feel full quicker and longer.
Since berries are a low-sugar, fibrous fruit, you can eat them to your heart’s content because they will not cause a rapid rise and fall in your blood sugar levels. Fiber helps promote blood sugar balance, rather than triggering fat storage.
Try these recipes:
Chlorella is a single-celled green algae that contains plenty of plant protein and fiber. The protein in chlorella promotes blood sugar balance while the fiber feeds healthy gut bacteria.
Chlorella also has unique body detoxification properties and is known to support the removal of toxins from the body through chelation (1). What’s chelation? It’s a natural process that uses a substance (referred to as a chelate) to bind to toxins to remove them from the body.
Chlorella is considered a chelate, and so is helpful for binding to heavy metals and safely eliminating them from the body –heavy metals are fat soluble toxins that get stored in fat cells, so their removal from the body is key to help burn belly fat.
You can find chlorella in pill form or powder form in most health food stores… or if you want a tastier way to consume it, try it in a superfood greens powder drink mix.
Try these recipes:
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an ideal belly-fat-burning food for multiple reasons.
First, being a slow-digesting fat, it helps to satiate your appetite quicker and keep you full for longer periods of time. This reduces your overall need for extra calories from foods that promote fat storage.
Coconut oil is a healthy fat, and more specifically, a medium-chain triglyceride.
Medium chain triglycerides take a pathway in the body that allows it to be used for energy right away, instead of being stored as fat. The “fat makes you fat” myth is based on long-chain triglycerides that take a longer pathway in the body upon being metabolized, which causes them to be stored as fat.
Since coconut oil is burned quickly for energy but digests slowly to keep your appetite full, it’s considered an ideal belly-fat-burning food to include in recipes and use as a healthy cooking oil.
Try these recipes:
- This Is the Homemade Granola Cereal You Should Be Eating
- The Easiest Black Bean Brownies Recipe Ever
5. Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are a seed that contain fiber, omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, as well as plant protein. Hemp hearts make an ideal addition to any belly fat burning recipe because they fill you up quickly and stabilize your blood sugar levels.
The omega 3s in hemp hearts also help reduce inflammation in the body.
Chronic inflammation (which can occur from eating too many processed foods, stress, and taking antibiotics for an extended period of time) can impair the proper functioning of your digestive system, so it’s important to include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet to support the belly fat burning process and your overall health.
Try these recipes:
Avocado is a high-fat fruit. Because it’s primarily composed of fat, many people have avoided avocados in the past.
But avocado is primarily made up of a type of fat – known as monounsaturated fat – which actually helps support the digestive system and belly fat burning process.
Avocados are also high in fiber to help promote stable blood sugar levels, feed healthy gut bacteria and keep your appetite full for longer periods of time. As you know, these are all important qualities for a true belly fat burning food to have.
Since avocados are a very nutrient-dense food, they shouldn’t be avoided. But with their high fat content, they should be eaten in moderation instead of all at once. A good portion size for an avocado is one-quarter to one-half of a fruit per day.
Try these recipes:
Quinoa is another plant food that offers a ton of protein. It’s often referred to as a grain, though it’s closely related to the spinach family and is actually more of a seed.
Quinoa is one of the rare plant foods that contain all eight essential amino acids, which make it a complete protein. As a clean protein source, quinoa helps satisfy your appetite quicker and stabilizes your blood sugar levels, two mechanisms to help prevent belly fat storage.
As an added bonus, protein requires more digestive energy to be used by your body which burns extra calories in the process.
Try these recipes:
8. Wild Salmon
Wild salmon contains both protein and omega 3 essential fatty acids – two nutrients that will fill you up, satisfy your appetite, and reduce your cravings for sugar.
As an efficient belly-fat-burning food, salmon should always be eaten wild-caught. Farmed salmon is available in grocery stores, but may contain a wide variety of toxins that harm health and get stored in fat cells, rather than offering fat burning benefits to the body.
9. Coconut Milk Kefir
Kefir is fermented milk, which means it contains beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics. Receiving probiotics from your diet is one of the best ways to help promote a healthy gut and improve your body’s overall ability to burn belly fat.
I personally recommend using kefir from coconut milk rather than dairy.
Kefir can be found at your local health food stores and is also easy (and very inexpensive) to make at home – all you need are kefir grains and coconut milk.
Depending on the area you live in, kefir grains may be sold at your local health food store or distributed through a health and wellness company online.
Be cautious when purchasing pre-made kefir and read labels to ensure it contains no added sugar.
Ideally, the only ingredients will be coconut milk, bacteria strains and sometimes a source of fiber or added vitamins.
Burning Belly Fat Isn’t Magic
As you can see, eating for a flat belly is as simple as getting the proper nutrients in your diet. No magic pills or extreme detoxes are required for a flat belly that lasts.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.