Shed off the fat in your midsection with these 10 delicious recipes.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D. 1 / 11
Belly (or visceral) fat has been linked to a variety of health conditions including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. And, let's face it, you're not exactly dying to take your shirt off to show it off at the beach or pool. But, it's true what they say: In order to slim down and trim body fat—particularly that stuff around your midsection—a well-balanced, healthy diet in conjunction with regular exercise is necessary. However, studies have also found that including certain foods in your diet can help reduce belly fat. Yep, you can eat your way to a six-pack (so long as you're not also eating a bunch of crap on top of these good-for-you eats!) Keep reading to find 10 of these foods and a delicious, healthy recipe for each. Because, we're not just going to leave you hanging wondering what the heck you should do with kimchi!
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity sought out to determine if an egg breakfast, compared to a bagel breakfast containing similar calories, would help obese participants lose weight. Those who consumed two eggs in their breakfast while following a lower calorie diet lost 65-percent more weight and reduced their waist circumference by 34-percent compared with those who were on a similar calorie bagel breakfast.
For your eating and belly fat reducing pleasure, here is a killer omelet which includes eggs, along with two other belly-busting foods, kale and sweet potatoes.
Recipe: Kimchi Omelette with Kale and Sweet Potato
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 2 people Start to Finish: 25 minutes Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 15 minutes
Ingredients: 4 extra large or 5 large eggs 2 cups chopped fresh kale 1½ cups cubed cooked sweet potato ¾ cup kimchi ¼ cup milk 1 tablespoon olive oil Cilantro and avocado, optional garnish
Instructions: 1. Preheat the broiler and put the oven rack up to the highest level. Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Scramble together and set aside. 2. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the kale and sauté for around 3 minutes, then add the sweet potato and sauté for another 3 minutes. 3. Add the kimchi to the kale and sweet potato and sauté together for a few minutes. Spread the vegetable-kimchi mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet. 4. Pour the scrambled eggs over the vegetables and cook at medium-high heat on the stovetop for around 2 minutes. 5. Take the skillet and put it under the broiler. 6. Broil until the eggs are set and the omelette is cooked through. 7. Remove the skillet from the broiler. Sprinkle the omelette with cilantro and lay slices of avocado on it. 8. Using a spatula, loosen the edges of the omelette from the sides of the skillet and sliding the spatula under the omelette, fold the omelette in half. Slide out of the skillet onto a serving plate or divide in half right in the pan and put onto 2 plates. 9. Garnish with more cilantro and avocado if you want.
Tart Cherries: Almond Crusted French Toast with Tart Cherries
Studies have shown that tart cherries may help reduce belly fat and inflammation, and help lower cholesterol and blood fat (AKA triglycerides). Top oatmeal with dried tart cherries or mix tart cherry juice into a smoothie. You can also enjoy this vegan French toast topped with frozen tart cherries.
Recipe: Almond Crusted Vegan French Toast with Sour Cherries
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 4 Start to Finish: plus 20 minutes, plus 20 minutes refrigeration time Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 20 minutes
Ingredients: 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk ¼ cup ground flax seeds 1½ teaspoon vanilla ½ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon nutmeg Pinch of salt 1 tablespoon maple syrup 8 slices whole grain bread, thickly sliced ¼ cup almond meal Coconut oil, for cooking (about 1-2 tablespoons) ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted 1 cup frozen sour cherries, warmed through
Instructions: 1. Combine the almond milk with the flax seeds and whisk until well combined. Refrigerate for 20 minutes until thickened slightly. Then add in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and maple syrup. 2. Preheat a large griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat and grease with a light coating of coconut oil. 3. Dip the bread into the flax mixture, soaking it for a few seconds on each side. Then sprinkle liberally with almond meal and pan-fry until golden brown on each side. Continue with remaining slices, keeping the finished toast in a 200 F oven to stay warm. 4. To serve, garnish with the almonds and cherries and enjoy.
A 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal found that calcium and vitamin D supplementation over 12 weeks helps obese and overweight college students lose belly fat, while lowering their overall calories. Although the study was done with supplements, milk is brimming with these two nutrients and is an overall healthy addition to any weight loss plan.
Recipe: No Added Sugar Chocolate Pudding
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 6 people Start to Finish: 30 minutes Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes
Instructions: 1. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, eggs and ½ cup milk until just combined with a whisk. 2. Transfer mixture using a spatula into a small saucepan set on medium heat. 3. Gradually add the other 2 cups of milk into the saucepan. 4. Place chopped dates into milk and stir with a wooden spoon. 5. Continue to heat for 4-7 minutes over the low to medium heat, stirring frequently with the wooden spoon. 6. Once the pudding mixture begins to coat the back of the spoon, remove from heat and pudding will continue to set. Be careful not to leave it on the heat too long, it will significantly firm up once removed from the heat source. 7. Set aside for 10 minutes. 8. Before placing into the refrigerator to complete cooling, take your immersion blender or food processor and pulse finely the pudding to create an even consistency from those dates. 9. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information (per ½ cup serving) Calories: 100; Total Fat: 2 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 5 grams: Carbohydrates: 15 grams; Sugar: 9 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; Cholesterol: 65 milligrams; Sodium: 65 milligrams
Ingredients: 2 avocados ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice 2 cloves garlic, minced ½ jalapeno, minced ¼ teaspoons salt ½ cup diced red onion 1 cup finely chopped kale (about 2 oz)
Instructions: 1. Mash the avocados into a plastic or glass bowl. 2. Stir in Greek yogurt, lime or lemon juice, garlic, jalapeño, and salt. 3. Stir in red onion, then add in kale and stir until combined. 4. Serve or cover and refrigerate. Keeps a few days tightly covered, but it might turn a slight brown color.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics examined the effects of eating two servings oats verses lower-fiber foods while on a lower calorie diet. Regular physical activity was also encouraged on the diet. The study found that waist circumference decreased more in the group who included oats (in the form of whole grain cereal) compared to the low-fiber group. The results were seen after only 4 weeks!
Ingredients: 3 cups quick cooking oats 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ teaspoon table salt 1½ teaspoons baking powder 2 cups nonfat or low-fat milk ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1 cup frozen wild blueberries (or other berries of choice)
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to bake at 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners. 2. Combine the oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and milk in a large mixing bowl. 3. Add the ricotta cheese and maple syrup and stir well to combine. Gently fold in the blueberries. 4. Using a ladle or small measuring cup, divide the oatmeal mixture among the muffin cups. 5. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before running a knife around the edge of the muffins to remove and let cool completely on a cooling rack. 6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
A 2015 study examined the effects of chokeberries, which are high in numerous phytochemicals (or plant chemicals) like anthocyanins. The study found that anthocyanins may help decrease belly fat accumulation in rats. Although chokeberries are pretty tough to come by in the U.S., raspberries and other berries are also brimming with anthocyanins.
Recipe: Chia Seed Raspberry Jam
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 12 Start to Finish: 5 minutes, plus 1 hour refrigeration Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
Ingredients: 2 cups raspberries (if using frozen, defrost first) 2 tablespoons chia seeds 2 tablespoons warm water 2-4 tablespoons honey ½ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Instructions: 1. Add all ingredients (start with 2 tablespoons of the honey) to a blender or food processor, and pulse until it is the texture you prefer. 2. Taste and add more honey if you would like a sweeter jam. 3. Transfer the mixture to a container with a lid and allow to set in the fridge, about an hour.
Ingredients: 1 large sweet potato, diced 1 onion, diced 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 tablespoon lemon juice ¼ cup medium salsa ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon cumin ¼ teaspoon allspice ¼ teaspoon black pepper Kosher salt (as desired, optional)
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 2. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 3. Place sweet potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and black beans in the dish and stir gently. 4. Mix together lemon juice, salsa, cilantro, garlic, cumin, allspice, black pepper, and salt (optional) in a small dish. 5. Mix salsa mixture into vegetable mixture. 6. Place in oven (uncovered) and bake for about 1 hour until vegetables are tender and golden brown.
A study found that drinking a glass of tomato juice daily can help decrease compounds that lead to inflammation in obese and overweight women. If you have chronic inflammation it may increase storage of belly fat. Eating foods with the same nutrients as tomato juice, like canned tomatoes, may have the same belly-busting results when part of a well-balanced, weight loss plan.
Ingredients: 2 pounds pineapple, diced 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained well (I like Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes) 1 bunch finely chopped cilantro (about 1 cup) 1 cup red onion, finely chopped 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (about ½ cup or more to taste) 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes) Salt and freshly ground black pepper Hot pepper sauce, to taste, optional
Instructions: 1. In a large bowl, combine pineapple, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, and jalapenos. Add lime-juice and toss to coat. 2. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce, if using. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature for 30 minutes, or chill until serving time. Serve with tortilla chips.
Pistachios: Homemade Dark Chocolate Cranberry Granola
A 2016 study looked at diet quality on the effects of belly fat and found that a high quality diet was associated with lower belly fat. So which foods are included in a healthy, belly-busting diet? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and yogurt. In this granola recipe, you’ll find pistachios and cranberries (dried fruit in the right portion count towards your recommended daily dose of fruit too!).
Recipe: Dark Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio Granola
Ingredients: 3 cups old fashioned oats 1 tablespoon white chia seeds 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon ginger Pinch of salt 1 banana 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or oil of choice) ¼ cup dried cranberries ¼ cup chocolate chips (I like Lily's Dark Chocolate) ¼ cup pistachios
Instructions: 1. Heat oven to 300 degrees F. 2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. 3. Combine wet ingredients (banana, honey, and coconut oil) in a food processor or blender. 4. Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients. 5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread oat mixture evening on top. 6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through. 7. Let granola cool. 8. Mix in cranberries, chocolate, and pistachios.
The same 2016 study found that yogurt was part of a high quality diet associated with decreased belly fat. There are many ways to eat yogurt, including in this super simple belly-busting smoothie.
Don’t be afraid of the 21 grams of sugar per serving though, it all comes from natural sugar from both the plain yogurt and berries. This smoothie has no added sugar, which is what you want to steer clear of.