This food group not only builds strong bones, it can help in the battle of the bulge. A recent study found that overweight premenopausal women who consumed a high-protein high-dairy diet (meaning six to seven servings of dairy per day, representing 15 percent of daily calories, with total protein making up 30 percent of daily calories) lost twice as much abdominal fat as those who followed a lower-protein low-dairy diet. Dairy’s high levels of whey protein might prompt the release of appetite-suppressing hormones, researchers say. In addition, dairy is rich in vitamin D and calcium, which play important roles in fat metabolism, encouraging the body to burn more fat as a fuel source.
Put more dairy in your diet: Opt for 2 percent Greek yogurt (20 grams of protein; 150 calories)
Eating the right kind of fat can help you shrink your belly. Oils and other foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) boost the body’s production of fat-fighting hormones. Consuming some fat helps satiety, too. Plus, there’s a link between a diet rich in PUFAs and lower rates of belly fat and disease. Such fats lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while elevating “good” HDL, and they help maintain insulin levels.
Put more good fats in your diet: Opt for olive oil (119 calories per 1 Tbsp.), canola oil (124 calories per 1 Tbsp.), chopped walnuts (191 calories per 1/4 cup), sliced avocado (117 calories per 1/2 cup) and ground flaxsweed (75 calories per 2 Tbsp.)
Green tea might be a fat fighter. Subjects in a study who exercised and drank two or more cups per day lost about six times more belly fat than those who drank none. Catechins, compounds found in high amounts in green tea, might boost your ability to burn fat, researchers theorize.
Put more tea in your diet: Opt for unsweetened green tea, either iced or hot
Soluble fiber, found in oats, apples, citrus fruits and other produce, can be effective in beating belly fat. Research suggests that for every 10 grams of soluble fiber you consume daily, your visceral fat (see “Belly Fat Basics,” right) could go down 3.7 percent in five years. A high-fiber diet that includes both soluble and insoluble fibers (like those in nuts, beans, veggies and whole grains) helps maintain stable blood-sugar levels—which keeps your appetite in check. Are you 50 or younger? Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber daily.
Put more fiber in your diet: Opt for whole fruits (with the peel), vegetables, beans, nuts, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta
More tips from allyou.com
Think you have to starve yourself or work out like a maniac to lose that maddening muffin-top? Diet and exercise do play crucial roles, but you don’t have to completely redo your daily routine to get real results. Use these fast-acting solutions to start shrinking your middle.
Skip the soda. Carbonated drinks release carbon dioxide gas into your digestive tract, causing your stomach to expand. Choose plain water, which spurs the digestive system.
Give up gum. Chewing gum can cause you to swallow air that becomes trapped in your gastrointestinal tract, leading to bloating.
Slow down. When you eat fast, you take in gulps of air that — yep, you guessed it — get trapped and lead to bloating.
Avoid sodium. Salt promotes water retention. Fill up on unprocessed foods; skip high-sodium fare such as lunch meats and frozen dinners.
Go easy on artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol, found in sugar-free and low-carb sweets, are digested slowly or not at all, so eating large amounts of such foods can cause gas and bloating. Artificial sweeteners that lack those alcohols don’t cause the problem.
Take a breather. Stress hormones speed digestion, leading to gas and diarrhea. Tense? Go for a stroll to ease anxiety and aid in improving digestive function.
Get tested. Chronic bloating and gas can be symptoms of lactose intolerance (sensitivity to the sugar found in milk) or fructose malabsorption (sensitivity to a sugar found in fruit juice, table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup). Your doctor can diagnose either with a simple breath test.