5 Foods to Eat for a Flat Stomach
Even if a Jillian Michaels-style six-pack isn’t on your wish list, odds are you’ve wanted flatter abs at one point or another, and swore up and down you’d start doing 1,000 crunches every day before bed.
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While spot-training your stomach muscles with moves like crunches and sit-ups can’t exactly hurt, a combination of cardio, strength training, and eating right are really the only way to ditch pesky midsection fat. The good news: There are quite a lot of foods that can speed up the flat belly process without having to go on a strict diet.
We all know that — much like carbs — certain fats are better for us than others. What you might not know, however, is that monounsaturated fat — a.k.a., the “good” fat — can flatten your abs! How? According to Self Magazine, blood sugar peaks can signal your body to store fat around your midsection, but monounsaturated fats stop the spikes, effectively stopping fat accumulation in its tracks.
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In fact, dieters who consumed monounsaturated fats lost more stomach fat than those eating the same number of calories but less of the fats, a study in Diabetes Care Journal found.
Not to mention, it also can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol (which lessens your risk of heart disease and stroke), and is usually high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin we all could use more of.
Below are the top foods that feature monounsaturated fats, so be sure to keep some stocked in your fridge:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The holy grail of monounsaturated fat, EVOO, is literally brimming with health boosters (and that's apart from minimizing your gut), including anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular benefits, brain-boosting benefits, and many others. Opt for around two tablespoons a day — an easy feat if you drizzle it over fresh fish or veggies, or mix it with a little lemon juice, garlic and spices to create the perfect salad dressing. However, in order to reap the benefits, you shouldn’t cook or heat up olive oil for several reasons, including the fact that chemical changes take place in its compound and could be harmful to eat and breathe.
Another monounsaturated fat superstar, avocados, have many of the same health benefits as EVOO. However, they too are high in fat, so don’t eat more than a quarter of a cup a day.
In addition to being high in monounsaturated fat, these little guys are packed with fiber, protein and vitamin E, as well as magnesium, which helps your body stabilize its blood sugar levels. Most health experts suggest eating an ounce a day — roughly 23 almonds — which clocks in at 9 grams of monounsaturated fat and around 165 calories. A perfect snack.
Did you know that real dark chocolate is brimming with health benefits? It is! Plus, in small quantities, it improves digestion and fights belly fat, too. The catch: The higher the cocoa content, the better it is, so look for bars that feature 70–85 percent cocoa, if not more (most are found at health food stores and specialty supermarkets, as opposed to drugstores and newsstands like other chocolate.)
This leafy green vegetable is one of the healthiest foods you can eat: It’s super-low in calories, but high in things like vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium and magnesium. Spinach is also a good source of calcium which helps your muscles contract, and it’s high in fiber, so it helps you feel full. The easiest way to get your spinach on? Use it in place of romaine or iceberg lettuce in salads and on sandwiches.