Your starchy veggies—corn, potatoes, green peas and beets—are simply higher in carbohydrates and calories. Meanwhile, non-starchy veggies are lower in carbs (about 5 grams per serving) and lower in calories (generally about 25 per serving).
It’s also a nice coincidence that low-carb veggies are particularly high in healthful nutrients, and a lot of these same foods tend to have a higher water content, which helps rid your belly of bothersome bloat. If they’re not already regulars in your diet, consider adding these nutritionist-approved, low-carb picks to your meals stat for a flatter belly today.
Romaine lettuce is our salad go-to. The leaves are low calorie, low carb, low in sugar and high in beneficial nutrients. Romaine has only 15 calories and 1 gram of carbs per cup. It’s also a great source of fiber, which will fill you up and keep your BMs regular, and rich in folate, which helps keep energy levels steady and helps to regulate mood. For more of our favorite greens, read the essential Eat This, Not That! list of the 10 Superfoods Healthier Than Kale.
Want a snack? Slice some bell peppers instead of a high-carb cracker. One medium bell pepper has only 31 calories and has 7 grams total carbs. They also contain up to three times your daily requirement of vitamin C, which helps repair and boost collagen production (the protein that gives structure to your skin). While the low-calorie count will help you drop the weight, the increased collagen production will help your skin appear more smooth and taut. When you’re grabbing some peppers at the grocery store, look for firm ones free of wrinkles or cracks for the freshest picks.
Asparagus will help you get that flat belly faster. It’s rich in potassium and low in sodium, which helps your body achieve proper electrolyte balance and works to reduce bloating. It’s also very low calorie, with only three calories per medium spear and .62 grams carbs. The fiber in asparagus also helps with elimination, further shrinking the appearance of your belly and promoting detoxification. It’s worth the smelly pee.
Commonly referred to as a “negative food” (meaning, it takes more calories for your body to digest than the food actually contains), celery certainly lives up to the low-cal hype. It has only six calories per medium stalk and only 1.19 grams of carbohydrates. Celery is mostly water, so it helps rid your body of any excess water you might be retaining and as a result will reduce puffiness.
Due to its high fiber and water content, broccoli fills you up for very few calories—about 30 per cup chopped. No need to worry about portions with this veggie—chances are you’ll stuff yourself before you hit any significant calorie count. It also comes in at a low 6 grams of carbohydrates per cup. The healthiest way to cook broccoli is to steam it, so break out that colander. Boiling, microwaving or stir-frying can actually leak away a larger portion of the nutrients.