Carrying that spare tire around your midsection not only makes it hard for you to buckle your belt, but it's also bad for your health. Abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, raises your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and men have a greater tendency of accumulating belly fat than women. Despite what many weight-loss ads say, no one food or diet plan is going to help you get a flat belly. A reduced-calorie diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups can help you lose weight all over, which may help improve the tone and look of your belly.
Reduce Calorie Intake
To lose body fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. When trying to lose belly fat, the Harvard Medical School says you should not cut back so much that it makes it too difficult for you to stick to your weight-loss plan. To lose 1/2 pound to 1 pound a week, you need to reduce your overall calorie intake by 250 calories to 500 calories a day. Tracking your calorie intake before you start your diet can give you an idea of how many calories you currently eat and how many you need to lose weight. The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute says most men can safely lose weight limiting intake to 1,500 calories to 1,800 calories a day.
What to Eat
The diet to lose belly fat focuses on healthy carbs, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein such as seafood, poultry, lean red meat and beans. It needs to be low in saturated fat, trans fat and refined carbs such as white bread, soda and sweets. Eat three meals a day, with each meal being about the same size, plus one snack. Eating regularly controls hunger and keeps energy levels up.
Jump-Start With a Healthy Breakfast
A healthy, weight-loss meal plan needs to include a filling breakfast. Eating breakfast keeps hunger away and prevents overeating. A healthy breakfast meal for a flatter belly might include 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal topped with 1/4 cup of raisins and 12 chopped almonds with 1 cup of nonfat milk. This meal contains 540 calories.
Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite at Rush University Medical Center suggests filling half your plate with vegetables so you don't have room for unhealthy foods. Eating more vegetables not only helps whittle your waist, but also lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A vegetable-filled lunch might include 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 2 cups of mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 cup of roasted red potatoes. This meal contains 545 calories.
Filling Up at Dinner
Make fish a regular part of your weekly meal rotation. The Harvard Medical School suggests replacing your saturated fat foods -- steak and bacon -- with more polyunsaturated fats -- salmon and tuna -- to help reduce belly fat. Plus, these healthy fats lower risk of heart disease, which is more prevalent in men than women. A healthy dinner for a flatter belly might include 4 ounces of broiled tuna with 2 cups of roasted Brussels sprouts and 1/2 cup of brown rice for 540 calories.
Snacks for Sleeker Abs
Snacks are an important part of your weight-reducing diet because they provide a boost of energy in the midafternoon and aid in hunger control. A healthy snack option might include a small orange with 1 ounce of mozzarella cheese, a container of fat-free yogurt with 3/4 cup of blueberries, or six whole-grain crackers with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. Each snack option contains about 150 calories.
- Rush University Medical Center: Is There Really One Trick to Losing Belly Fat
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss and Weight Training Myths
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Male Diet & Nutrition
- American Heart Association: Polyunsaturated Fats