Right now, in your home, you have a powerful belly-shrinking tool you're not taking advantage of.
No, it's not that Ab Roller you ordered off of late-night TV and promptly banished to the attic.
It's your kitchen: Set up and stocked the right way, it can make all the difference in whether you pile on midsection fat—or keep it off. With a quick cabinet reorg, simple food swaps, and even a workout move to do during boiling-water downtime, you can transform a fat-belly kitchen into a flat-belly one.
Banish bloat one change at a time
Bottoms up: Keep plain low-fat yogurt or its drinkable cousin, kefir, handy. Their live, active cultures boost the good bacteria in your digestive tract, warding off bloat.
Go green: Grow your own oregano, thyme, and rosemary along your windowsill, and you'll have an easy, no-cal way to jazz up healthy foods like grilled chicken and veggies.
Cook it off: Keep slimming cookware where it's easy to nab: You shouldn't have to get on hands and knees with a flashlight to find your wok or grill pan with fat-catching grooves (buy one in a favorite color so you can leave it on display).
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Slim down your fridge
Ditch it: Lose the diet soda (carbonation plus artificial sweetners equals bloat), and replace it with iced green tea.
Its antioxidants may boost metabolism and help you burn more ab fat when combined with just three hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise, says a study published in The Journal of Nutrition. Aim for three 8-ounce glasses a day.
Say yes to this cheese
Replace fat-free cheeses with organic 2 percent varieties—like reduced-fat feta. Not only is the fat-free kind tasteless, but it also fails to deliver the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in full-fat or reduced-fat organic dairy products that have been shown to help diminish belly fat.
Stack 'em: Invest in fridge- and freezer-friendly stackable containers so the healthy stuff is easier to grab than fattening fare. Chop several days' worth of veggies at once, and you can throw together a quick salad or stir-fry. Fiber-rich foods take longer to digest, leaving you full longer. Double the recipes for lower-calorie eats like gazpacho or turkey meatballs, and freeze the extra.
Upgrade your meat
Stock up on lean ground turkey breast instead of regular ground turkey, which often includes the skin—and more saturated fat. Besides overloading you with calories, fatty foods linger in your stomach longer, leading to gas and bloating, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Other lean picks? Pork tenderloin, skinless chicken breast, and top round roast. And when possible, go for grass-fed beef, suggests celebrity dietitian Ashley Koff, RD. It can be more expensive than grain-fed, but it boasts more belly-fat-burning fats.
Turn up the heat
Stock up on fresh salsas and cayenne pepper hot sauce. Capsaicin, the stuff that gives hot chiles their zing, has been shown to boost metabolism, Blatner says. Plus, hot sauce is a calorie-free way to add flavor.
Chill off fat: Stash dark chocolate in the freezer. It's rich in heart-smart monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which research suggests can help control belly fat.
Post a funny photo from your vacation on your fridge. A good belly laugh can lower stress hormones, reports The American Journal of the Medical Sciences—and those hormones have been linked to ab fat.