Or soups with three days’ worth of sodium? (P.F. Chang’s Hot & Sour—yep, we’re pretty hot and sour!) Or coffee drinks with the equivalent of 42 sugar packets? (That’s not cool, Dunkin’ Donuts Vanilla Bean Coolatta!)
Eating a balanced diet in today’s food landscape means that when you’re surrounded by bad, you’ve got to maximize the good if you want to boost your health and lose weight. You’ve got to find places in your day to sneak in the healthiest foods in the world. Look to sneak these 8 Zero Belly foods into your daily routine, compliments of the New York Times bestseller Zero Belly Diet, and start tipping the scales back in your favor.
And that’s not the only weight loss plan out there: Discover more details and drop two sizes with these 4 Teas That Melt Fat Fast.
One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who ate coconut oil lost overall weight and belly fat faster than a group consuming the same amount of olive oil. The secret is in coconut’s medium chain triglycerides. Unlike the long-chain fatty acids in most oils, coconut oil is broken down immediately for use rather than stored, and has been found to speed up the metabolism. That’s right—your body has trouble storing the calories in coconut oil, and revs up its metabolism to burn them instead. Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for just about every dish from eggs to stir-frys, and a delicious substitute for butter when baking.
Flax and Chia Seeds
One of the hallmarks of a balanced diet is to have a good ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s. A 4:1 ratio would be ideal, but the modern American diet is more like 20:1. That leads to inflammation, which can trigger weight gain. But while eating a serving of salmon every day isn’t exactly convenient, sprinkling these two seeds–among the most highly concentrated sources of omega-3s in the food world–into smoothies, salads, cereals, pancakes or even desserts is as easy a diet upgrade as you can get. Animal studies suggest a chia-rich diet can lower harmful LDL cholesterol and protect the heart, and a recent study in the journal Hypertension found that daily consumption of flaxseed-fortified bakery products reduced blood pressure in patients with peripheral artery disease. Best absorbed when ground, flax adds delicious nuttiness to oats, cereal, smoothies and baked goods.
Eggs are the single best dietary source of the B vitamin choline, an essential nutrient used in the construction of all the body’s cell membranes. Two eggs will give you half your day’s worth; only beef liver has more. (And believe us, starting your day with a slab of beef liver does not make for a great morning.) Choline deficiency is linked directly to the genes that cause the accumulation of belly fat. Eggs can solve the problem: Research has shown dieters who eat eggs for breakfast as compared to a high-carb meal of a bagel have an easier time losing weight due to their satiety value. At about 70 calories, a hard-boiled egg also makes an easy afternoon snack … just don’t tell your coworkers; according to a personality analysis by the British Egg Industry Council, boiled egg consumers tend to be disorganized! (Other findings: fried egg fans have a high sex drive and omelette eaters are self-disciplined.)
Speaking of whittling your middle, reveal the washboard stomach you've been wishing for with these 11 Eating Habits That Will Uncover Your Abs.
Apples with the Skin On
A medium-sized apple, at about 100 calories and 4.5 grams fiber per fruit, is one of the best snack options for anyone looking to slim down—but especially apple-shaped folks. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat (that’s dangerous belly fat) was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Participants who paired their apple-a-day habit with 30 minutes of exercise 2-4 times per week saw a 7.4 percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period. But don’t peel your apple if you want to peel off the pounds: A study conducted at the University of Western Australia found that the blushing varieties (such as Pink Ladies) had the highest level of antioxidant phenols, most of which are found in the skin.
It may be the easiest nutrition upgrade of all: put cinnamon on your toast. According to researchers, cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols proven to improve insulin sensitivity and, in turn, our body’s ability to store fat and manage hunger cues. A series of studies printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a heaping teaspoon cinnamon to a starchy meal may help stabilize blood sugar and ward off insulin spikes.
To look and feel your best in 24 hours flat, combine your pu-erh habit with our Ultimate One-Day Detox.
A scoop of guacamole is one of the most effective hunger-squashers known to man. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. At only 60 calories, a 2 Tablespoon serving of guacamole (on top of eggs, salads, grilled meats, etc.) can provide the same satiety benefit with even more of a flavor punch. Just be sure when buying store-bought guac that avocados actually made it into the box (many are made without the real fruit)! We love Wholly Guacamole as a store brand.
Yep, lettuce. Move over, King Kale. In a new William Paterson University study that compared the 47 top superfoods by nutrient volume, the trendy superfood came in a respectable–but unremarkable–15th on the list. Ranking higher: watercress, spinach, leafy greens and endive. Make yourself a bowl of leafy greens and add some olive oil. According to a Purdue University study, as little as 3 grams of monounsaturated fat can help the body absorb vegetables’ carotenoids (those magic molecules that protect you from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease). Pairing your lettuce with a scant tablespoon of olive oil based vinaigrette is your best bet.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity found people who ate a single serving a day of garbanzo beans or chickpeas (which forms the basis of hummus) each day reported feeling 31 percent fuller than their bean-less counterparts. Packed with fiber and protein, garbanzos have a low glycemic index, meaning that they break down slowly and keep you feeling full. The secret is to avoid varieties made with tahini; sourced from sesame seeds, tahini has a high omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio. Look for hummus that’s olive-oil based.