The idea of eating certain foods to make fat disappear is quite appealing -- but not realistic. Some foods are more likely to promote a healthy weight and prevent fat accumulation, but no one food can actually flush fat from your body. Despite the claims of certain diet gurus, the best way to lose the spare tire around your middle is through a calorie-controlled, whole-food diet and increased physical activity. Stick to lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains to keep calories in check. Getting the minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times per week also boosts your daily calorie burn.
Where Belly Fat Comes From
Belly fat consists of subcutaneous fat, that lies just below the skin, and the more insidious visceral fat that surrounds your internal organs. The visceral fat is the type to worry most about, because it's linked to increased risk of chronic disease. Inactivity; overeating, especially refined flours, trans fats and added sugar; and the aging process encourage belly fat to accumulate. You can't slow down aging, but you can increase your physical activity and replace fat-filled foods with more healthful options.
Certain foods are linked with a more slender middle. Whole grains, for example, are less likely to cause the development of belly fat than refined grains. In a study published in a 2010 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," researchers found a connection between refined grains and big bellies. Participants who reported a diet high in refined grains -- such as white bread and pasta -- also had larger waist circumferences than whole-grain eaters. You'll still need to watch portions of whole grains, sticking to just a 1/2 cup or so at meals, if you want to trim down.
Up Your Protein
Eating more protein may help you reduce belly fat. A study published in a 2013 issue of "Obesity" found that consuming about 35 percent of daily calories from protein sources in six small meals throughout the day led to a greater decrease in belly fat than a diet with 15 percent of calories coming from protein over the course of three meals. Lean protein won't actually flush fat from your abdomen, but it may give you a small metabolic boost and increase feelings of fullness so you eat less overall.
Vegetables and Fruits
With few calories per serving and ample amounts of fiber, vegetables and fruits can help you on your quest to achieve a flatter middle. Fiber doesn't actually flush fat away, but it does help keep you regular so you don't get bound up and bloated. Fresh produce also enables you to eat high volumes of nutritious food without taking in too many calories. Too many calories, even of healthy foods, will make your belly grow.
Fat for Flushing
Certain types of fats are healthier for your body and less likely to cause a big belly -- but eating them won't flush it out. Fat helps you feel satisfied and provides important support for nutrient absorption and hormone regulation. A 2002 study in "Diabetologia" found that when participants ate polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats for five weeks, they lost abdominal fat. Fatty fish, such as salmon, nuts and seeds are good sources of this type of fat. Keep portions moderate, though, because these foods can be high in calories.
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Whole- and Refined-Grain Intakes are Differentially Associated with Abdominal Visceral and Subcutaneous Adiposity in Healthy Adults: The Framingham Heart Study
- Obesity: Increased Protein Intake and Meal Frequency Reduces Abdominal Fat During Energy Balance and Energy Deficit
- Huffington Post: Top 10 Tips for Fat Flushing Your Summer
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Fat Flush for Life: The Year-Round Super Detox Plan to Boost Your Metabolism and Keep the Weight Off Permanently
- Diabetologia: Substituting Dietary Saturated Fat with Polyunsaturated Fat Changes Abdominal Fat Distribution and Improves Insulin Sensitivity