A few small changes really can slim your midsection, but not because foods can “burn” belly fat. “I hate to bust the bubble on this one, but flat belly foods aren’t exactly a thing — especially when it comes to the idea that you can ‘spot train’ certain areas of your body through the foods you eat.
That said, some easy tweaks can reduce belly fat (and belly bloat), make you look slimmer and set you up for healthier habits both now and in the long term, without resorting to crazy (and dangerous) dieting techniques.
1. Go to bed earlier
Getting under the covers a little sooner doesn’t just help you avoid late-night snacking. Missing out on a full night’s rest slows down your body’s metabolism, so if you want to rev up your calorie burn, plan on getting at least seven hours of shuteye.
2. Don’t skip meals
Eat every three to four hours, and that should include making time for breakfast. Research shows that people who miss a morning meal experience a surge in a hunger-related hormone later in the day. Regular snacks (which should include fiber-filled complex carbs and protein!) will keep you feeling full and your body burning cals at a steady rate.
3. Stand up straight
Straighten up and your figure look better right away. When your posture is good, you’re automatically engaging and toning your stomach muscles. If you need to remind yourself to stand tall, a few strategically placed sticky notes should do the trick.
4. Sip more water
Keep those fluids coming! Being dehydrated causes the body to hoard water, leading you to carry up to four excess pounds around your midsection. Aim for at least eight cups of water or other fluids daily.
5. Drink more coffee
A win for your cup of joe: Caffeinated coffee is a natural (mild) diuretic, which helps you de-puff by eliminating excess water in the body.
Java’s stimulating effects also keep things moving in your gut. The regular bowel movements help with a flatter belly.
6. Snack on nuts
Research has linked eating nuts with having a lower waist circumference.
Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, making them a more satisfying pick than pretzels.
Make sure you stick to the unsalted versions to stave off sodium-induced puff, and keep in mind one serving is about a small handful.
7. Got milk for breakfast?
Pour low-fat milk on your morning cereal and you may have a belly-busting win.
Diets high in calcium-containing foods have been linked with healthier body weight.
Plus, the minerals found in dairy products — calcium, potassium, and magnesium — can help to counterbalance bloat-inducing sodium.
8. Eat more slowly
Rather than scarfing down meals, make a point of chewing each bite at least 10 times before swallowing.
The body has to work overtime to break down food in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to major gas and indigestion.
Plus, when you eat fast, you’re more prone to swallowing air, which can ratchet up your risk of feeling a little puffy.
9. Learn to like probiotics
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that help your digestive system break down food, preventing the gastrointestinal issues that can keep you from having a flat stomach.
To ensure your plumbing is working at optimum capacity, eat a daily serving of a probiotic-rich food like yogurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, or buttermilk.
10. Take a break, de-stress
When you’re frazzled, your body increases its production of steroids and stress hormones, which negatively affect your digestive system, causing major constipation.
And as if that weren’t enough, stress also amps up the production of cortisol, a “fight or flight” hormone that sends excess fat directly to your midsection in its attempt to protect your vital organs.
11. Walk everyday
Even if you can’t get to the gym, try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk daily.
The simple boost in metabolism will help you burn waistline fat more efficiently. And if you want to work out, skip those gadgets that promise “miraculous abs in minutes. A study from Kansas State University found most devices designed to target abs (think infomercials) don’t live up to their promises. You’ll see better results with traditional exercise.
12. Try yoga
Don’t be fooled, yoga might not be a hardcore cardio workout but it has plenty of belly-flattening benefits. Most yoga poses and sequences will tighten and tone your tummy in just minutes a day — no crunches required!