If you feel like you’re making smart moves to lose weight but still aren’t seeing the scale prove you right, it may be because your diet contains sneaky foods that lead to bloating, water-retention (ahem, salt!) and a higher calorie intake. These quick swaps will keep you fuller longer, all while working their nutrient-powered magic.
First, Nix These Culprits
Start by cutting back on ultra-processed foods, bubbly drinks, gum and sugary beverages. While no single food can “spot train” belly fat, some smart swaps can ease bloating, improve gut health (eliminating cramps and gas!) and help you feel less puffy. Fill up on these foods instead…
Fermented foods like miso, tempeh and sauerkraut contain probiotics, a.k.a. friendly bacteria that help boost immunity, regulate gut function and banish bloat. Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and skyr can provide probiotic benefits too. Choose ones that have five strains or more of bacterial cultures per 6-ounce serving.
Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios — at GH, we’re nuts about nuts! People who snack on nuts may have lower abdominal fat than those who munch on carb-based treats, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, a heart-healthy (and more satisfying) pick than their grain-based counterparts.
Berries are packed with fiber(up to 9 grams a cup!) and antioxidants but contain less sugar than most fruits. That combo makes them a satisfying andhealthy choice.
Plant-based oils like extra-virgin olive oil create that “full” feeling and help you slim down overall. Skip battered foods deep-fried in oil, though! Fried snacks are associated with weight gain, so you’re better off enjoying them only once in awhile.
High-protein breakfasts, especially ones that include eggs, have been linked to weight loss, reducing belly fat in the process. Add eggs to salads, stir-frys and sautés, or pair them with 100% whole-grain toast and veggies for a hearty breakfast.
Beans and Lentils
Pulses — the dry edible seeds of beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas — are everywhere these days, and we couldn’t be happier about it. They’re filled with fiber and plant-based protein, plus minerals and B-vitamins. Overall, pulses reduce bloat by aiding your nervous and muscular systems, helping you build lean body mass.
It doesn’t get any better than fish when it comes to healthy protein, especially salmon, tuna and sardines. They’re filled with important omega-3s and lean protein, helping you fill up and curb cravings.
Grains get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, but that’s because refined grains (read: processed foods!) are linked to wider waists. 100% whole-grains are bloat-busting superstars; however, as they’re packed with minerals and de-puff by counter-balancing salt. Stick to brown rice, quinoa, wheat, barley, millet, farro, sorghum and amaranth for the biggest benefits.
Add a cup of low-fat milk, a part-skim mozzarella stick or a half cup of low-sodium cottage cheese to breakfast, and you may have a belly-busting win. While lots of research links calcium with lower body weights, results from a 2014 study suggest that calcium-containing foods may reduce waist circumference in those genetically-predisposed to carrying weight in their midsection.
Plant-based omega-3s belong in any healthy eating plan, but leafy greens and cauliflower are especially helpful for tightening up. They’re loaded with minerals like potassium, which can help offset the bloat-inducing effects of sodium.
Good news for lovers of this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!): A 2013 study linked regular avocado-eaters to lower waist circumference and BMI. What’s more, the monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy and filling, reducing the urge to graze on processed foods later on.
Filled with potassium and magnesium, bananasoffset the bloat caused salty processed foods and pack in plant-based prebiotics, “feeding” your good bacteria. Snack on one a day with a tablespoon of nut butter, or slice it into your morning cereal.
Coffee and Tea
Another win for your morning cup of joe: Caffeinated coffee keeps things moving through the digestive tract. Since staying regular is key to a tighter-looking tummy, drinking about 8 to 16 ounces of java at the same time every day can help you stay on schedule. Remember: Sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, so skip fancy flavorings and synthetic sweeteners containing sugar alcohols, which can cause
As a prebiotic-filled veggie, asparagus is a great additionto soups, pastas and omelets, or served as a side dish. For extra bloat-beating benefits, try pairing asparagus sticks with other crudité and dipping in hummus.
Mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes and cucumber all help you stay hydrated due to their high H2O content. That extra water can offset fluid retention caused by excess salt.
The potassium in citrus helps combat bloat while the antioxidants fight inflammation, which is associated with belly-fat storage. Since a key part of beating the bulge is proper hydration, adding citrus to your H2O can help non-water drinkers to sip up and ultimately slim down!
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin and other good-for-you tubers are lower in calories and chock-full of potassium and beta-carotene. Their mineral-rich and fiber-full properties make them bloat-beating all-stars.
Herbs and Spices
Flavor foods with herbs and spices whenever you can. It’ll encourage you cut back on high-sodium staples and avoid the salt shaker, a major player in bloating. Plus, many have mild diuretic effects, helping you flush out excess water. We love basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, tarragon, mint, oregano and black and red chili peppers, to name a few.