When it comes to getting and maintaining a slim waist, you want to use all the tools in your arsenal. While fiber and protein are often the first — to increase satiety and build muscle — science has found that other nutrients are just as crucial. These lesser-known nutrients speed up sophisticated processes that can actually spot-reduce fat and turn off the genes and hormones that promote belly fat storage. Here are six of the most important.
Because it: Turns off fat-storage genes
This fat-blasting B vitamin shuts off the genetic switches that cause your body to bank fat around your liver. The food richest in choline is eggs (it’s found in the yolk), which have the bonus of increasing satiety. Studies have shown that dieters who eat protein-packed eggs for breakfast, as opposed to carb-rich meals such as bagels, lose weight faster. Choline is also found in lean meats, seafood and collard greens.
Because it: Debloats your belly
This vital mineral flattens your belly in two ways: By flushing out water and sodium, reducing bloat; and by helping your muscles recover from a workout, their development and allowing you to work out more. Bananas and molasses are among the best food sources, according to the USDA, but you can also choose from these foods high in potassium.
Because they: Prevent fat storage
An MVP among Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny, these healthy fats — abundant in avocados and olive oil— actually spot-reduce belly fat by preventing your body from storing it! Plus, they increase satiety, staving off overeating: Dieters who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward, according to a study printed in Nutrition Journal. Monounsaturated fats strengthen your heart, to boot; they can also be found in grass-fed beef, coconut oil and dark chocolate.
Because it: Turns off fat-producing hormones
Teens aren’t the only ones at the mercy of hormones run amok, and calcium can banish two of the ones that expand your waist: calcitriol, which causes your body to store fat, and cortisol, which increases belly flab. In fact, people who ate 6 ounces of fat-free yogurt with every meal lost 81% more abdominal fat than those who simply reduced their caloric intake in a study at the University of Tennessee. And according to a separate study at Harvard, dieters who drank three glasses of orange juice containing calcium each day lost almost 10 times as much belly fat as those who didn’t!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Because they: Reduce inflammation
These heart-healthy fatty acids are flat-belly warriors, turning off your fat genes, preventing fat cells from growing in size and soothing inflammation throughout the body that can lead to belly-fat formation. They’re also awesome for your heart, reducing the risk of arrhythmia, lowering triglyceride levels and decreasing blood pressure. Find them in wild salmon (make sure it’s wild, not farmed) and other oily fish, omega-3 eggs and even these surprising omega-3 foods.
Because it: Speeds fat metabolism
This amino acid has been shown to ramp-up your natural fat-burning furnace. One study of overweight adults found that eating about a quarter-cup of almonds, which are rich in arginine, for 6 months led to a 62% greater reduction in weight and BMI than not noshing on the nuts. And consuming arginine-rich foods before you work out can actually help you burn more fat and carbs, according to a study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Besides almonds and pumpkin seeds, rely on these other arginine foods to take enough in.