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The #1 Best Dinner for Flat Belly, Say Dietitians

Beat the bloat with this super flavorful protein-packed salad.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

No matter how many crunches or planks you do, the reality is that you can't achieve a flat belly through your fitness efforts alone—your meals matter just as much.

Experts say what you eat dinner time can have a major impact on your waistline, and in order to beat bloating and bust fat, you'll want to fill your plate with lots of vegetables, which are low in calories but high in water and fiber, as well as some satiating lean protein and heart-healthy fats.

With all of that in mind, registered dietitians say the best dinner you can eat for a flat belly is a cobb salad. But not just any cobb, of course. Their slenderizing version skips the cheese and substitutes salmon, egg whites, and turkey bacon for a few of the traditional ingredients.

How to make it

Here's what you'll need for one serving:

  • 5-6 oz. fillet of salmon (grilled, smoked, air fried, blackened, or roasted)
  • 1/4 avocado, cut into cubes
  • Two pieces of turkey bacon, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 hard-boiled egg with the yolk removed, chopped
  • 2 cups lettuce of your choice (romaine, spinach, or mesclun greens work well)
  • 2 Tbsp diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup light vinaigrette

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Why a cobb salad?

There are a number of reasons why this dinner is such a smart pick for slimming down your waistline.

"While there's nothing wrong with eating the whole egg, egg whites on their own are lower in overall calories and fat," says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. "This makes them a great option for reaching a slight calorie deficit and helping reduce belly bloat."

As counterintuitive as it sounds, eating foods that are naturally high in water—like leafy greens and tomatoes—can help your body to flush out excess water that it's holding on to, thus preventing bloating. Fish is a low-carb protein source that's easy for your body to digest, further helping you to feel full while avoiding gas and bloating.

"A benefit of protein-heavy meals is that they help you stay fuller for longer, which will help you if you're trying to cut back on your diet," says Michelle Hawksworth, RD for Muscle and Brawn. "Fueling up with protein also allows you to preserve muscle mass, so any weight you lose is purely body fat. Plus, this macronutrient has a strong thermic effect, meaning your body will have to work harder and burn more calories to digest it properly."

But not all protein sources are created equal, of course. Erin Kenney, MS, RD, and CEO of Nutrition Rewired, says salmon is an especially good choice because research shows high-protein meals reduce cravings by 60% and boosts your metabolism, helping you burn an additional 80 to 100 calories per day. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with making you feel satiated and reducing inflammation. Salmon is also full of vitamin D, which is linked to decreased abdominal visceral fat.

Lastly, avocado is one powerhouse ingredient that you won't want to skip on your cobb salad. Not only does it add a satisfying creamy texture, but it also helps you lose belly fat. Surprised? Even though avocados are notoriously high in fat, it seems that the specific kind it contains—monounsaturated fat—can have a positive impact on your body composition. In fact, a 2021 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that eating avocados reduced participants' visceral fat—a dangerous type of belly fat that can increase your risk of certain chronic diseases.

Top off your salad with a light vinaigrette, says Burgess, and you've got yourself a bloat-busting dinner that will keep you satisfied all evening long while warding off belly fat. Here's a pro tip, though: Make sure to look at the sodium content on the dressing—or better yet, just make your own at home— as salt can cause your body to retain water, thus contributing to bloating.

For more flat belly tips, read these next:

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more about Rebecca
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