Medical professionals and dieting experts often classify body shapes using the fruit shapes of "apples" or "pears." A person with an apple-shaped figure carries and stores her weight around her abdominal area, while a person with a pear-shaped figure carries weight in the hip and thigh region, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. Higher levels of abdominal fat carry health risks that make following a healthy nutritional plan important to your long-term health.
When your body shape resembles an apple, you store fat not only directly under your skin's surface, but also deep into your stomach region, according to the Harvard Medical School. This visceral fat not only adds inches to your waistline, but it also affects your glucose levels, increases the risk of inflammation and can release substances such as "free fatty acids" into your portal vein. A publication from Harvard Medical School indicates that these substances can negatively affect your cholesterol levels. While it can be difficult to get rid of the fat closer to the surface of your skin, you can reduce the amount of visceral fat you carry through dedicated diet and exercise.
A study published in the May 2007 edition of the "Journal of the American Medical Association" studied the effect of different dietary components on overweight participants. A diet based on eating foods on the lower end of the glycemic scale helped people whose body placed them into the "apple-shaped" category lose weight more effectively than diets that were simply based on a reduced caloric and fat intake. The glycemic index measures a food's effect on your blood sugar. A food with a glycemic index of 55 or less may help you lose excess belly fat when combined with cardiovascular exercise. As a reference point, pure glucose has a glycemic index rating of 100.
Developing a nutrition plan to reduce your waist size and amount of visceral fat can be relatively simple, as many foods that fall within this category are whole, natural foods that are readily available at most grocery stores. Avoid foods made with white or brown sugar, and use sugar substitutes in your drinks. Low-glycemic index grains include those made from corn, barley or rye. Read the label on cereals, processed foods and bread, and avoid those with added sugars. Choose low-fat dairy and protein foods to save calories and avoid unneeded saturated fats. Eat mainly non-starchy vegetables and limit the number of times each week you have peas or potatoes. Dried fruits contain higher concentrations of sugar, so choose natural fruits, such as citrus fruits, grapes, pears or peaches.
A typical day of eating in an attempt to reduce the "apple-shape" appearance of your body may start with a slice of rye or pumpernickel bread spread with 1 teaspoon of natural peanut butter. Other appropriate breakfast choices include bran cereal with skim milk, and an apple or orange. Lunch foods can include spinach wraps, black beans and converted white rice, and raw spinach. Add a cup of fat-free or reduced-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit to your lunch. More protein choices include lean seafood or poultry. Avoid meats with breading, as the breading increases the glycemic index of the meat. For dinner, have a large salad with fat-free dressing, a lean protein choice, a small serving of a whole grain, such as rice or a roll, and 1 1/2 cups of steamed vegetables.