6 Best Vegetables to Shrink Belly Fat, Dietitians Say
You can't go wrong with vegetables. They're nutrient-dense and versatile, so you'll never run out of healthy ways to prepare them. And if you're trying to achieve a weight loss goal or lose belly fat, there are specific vegetables that can help you out!
However, we also want to emphasize that there is no such thing as one food or drink that can "melt away belly fat." This is simply impossible. Your chances of excess abdominal fat can increase due to a number of things such as genetics, age, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet quality, or heavy alcohol consumption. Because of these many factors, it requires a more holistic approach in order to lose it.
So, when we discuss vegetables that can help you lose belly fat, we include vegetables that are lower in calories and higher in things like fiber, protein, or other helpful nutrients because these factors can help in weight loss.
To learn more about these veggies and the nutrients they contain that can help with your goal of losing abdominal fat, we spoke with Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, and author at Go Wellness, as well as Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, and consultant with Balance One Supplements.
Beets aren't talked about nearly enough, but these earthy root vegetables are packed full of nutrients that can help you manage weight around your stomach area, while maybe even improving digestion.
For one, beets are high in fiber, at around 3.8 grams per cup. Eating enough fiber at each meal or snack is known to help prevent bloating, decrease appetite, and increase your feelings of fullness. Fiber can also help improve the health of your gut microbiome, something that is crucial in maintaining or losing weight in a healthy way.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is packed full of nutrients. With this yummy leaf you'll get vitamins A, K, C, and B6, as well as manganese, copper, and potassium. You'll also get fiber and protein as well, for only around 43 calories per 100 grams.
When looking at abdominal fat loss, it's helpful to remember that there isn't one food that can actually burn belly fat. However, replacing sugary and processed foods, which are known to contribute to weight gain, with high-fiber vegetables like kale can decrease your calorie intake and increase your intake of helpful nutrients.
Pass the spinach, please! This leafy green is full of nutrients and great as a salad, sautéed, or thrown into your protein smoothie. According to our dietitians, adding more spinach to your diet can help you lose belly fat.
"Leafy green vegetables are not only super nutritious, but they also help you shrink belly fat," says D'Angelo. "Spinach is high in fiber, which absorbs nutrients more and helps with digestion. It's also high in vitamin K, which can sometimes support the reduction of body weight, including visceral fat."
Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are a versatile vegetable with a natural sweetness that goes great in a stir fry or on top of your burrito bowl. They're also full of nutrients that can help you with your weight goals.
"Bell peppers are ideal vegetables to add to a weight loss diet," says Best. "They are low in calories and high in nutrients, while also helping to create a sense of fullness after meals. This combination can help to prevent overeating throughout the rest of the day. Their fiber content and capsaicin also give red bell peppers their weight loss benefits."
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can find, which is why both of our dietitians swear by this green veggie as a food for helping to manage your weight.
"This cruciferous vegetable is rich in antioxidants that help drive down inflammation in the body," says Best. "The primary compound is sulforaphane, which works by lowering cytokines and NF-kB in the body. These substances drive the inflammatory process. By reducing inflammation, the body is better able to release weight and work efficiently in every other area as well."
"Broccoli also contains several other nutrients that may promote belly fat loss, including vitamin C, calcium, and chromium," says D'Angelo. "Vitamin C is needed by the body for metabolizing fats into energy. This veggie is also a high-carb food, which has many benefits when it comes to weight loss such as helping you feel full, providing energy, preventing weight gain, aiding in digestion, and even helping to trim your waistline."
Lastly, carrots are a delicious root vegetable that contains more nutrients than many people realize. Not only that, but chewing raw carrots also may surprisingly help with your goals as well!
"This vegetable is unique in its ability to help reduce belly fat in the fact that it raises the body's metabolism," says Best. "The thermogenic effect of food (TEF) is the rate of calories a food causes the body to burn while being digested. Because carrots have a hard texture, they have a high TEF and therefore cause the body to burn more calories simply by eating them."
An original version of this article was published on April 6, 2022. It has been updated with two additional copy to further explain the link between eating vegetables and losing abdominal fat.