Call it anything--flat tire, saddlebag, love handles or even muffin tops -- but you certainly agree the sight or feel of extra flesh bursting from under your blouse is more than just a fashion inconvenience. Even men are no longer happy with the age-old lie that beer bellies are a sign of comfort or wealth. It is one thing knowing that you are not alone, and better still, it is possible to end your tummy situation with a careful choice of what you eat.
Antioxidants, Amino Acids, Vitamins and Enzymes
Antioxidants are critical in controlling the body’s hormonal functions, which includes burning of fats. A study published in the November 2007 issue of "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry," a family of antioxidants, called flavonoids and phenolic acids increased fat metabolism in rats, and may have a similar role in humans. Amino acids including arginine methionine, carnitine and glutamine, as well as enzymes such as bromelain, stimulate protein synthesis and fat oxidation by triggering the secretion of the human growth hormone (HGH) that builds lean muscles, burns fat and bolsters workout recovery times. HGH synthesis requires minerals such as zinc as well as vitamins B6 and B12.
Low Glycemic Index
In the world of processed foods, the above list is helpful when checking the fine print on the packet, but when you need make a tummy-friendly decision in a restaurant or even in your garden, knowing the actual foods is much more helpful. The rate at which foods, especially carbohydrates and fats, break down after eating determines how they can be absorbed into the blood stream, effectively putting the sugars on tap for the body to use them or convert them into fats. This rate is measured by use of the glycemic index, which gives a high index to foods that absorb quickly, and offering an indication of the equally high rate of absorption of the same from the liver, according to the Harvard School of Medicine. If you are looking to flatten your belly, go for foods with a low glycemic index --below 55 -- which limit insulin secretion and subsequent storage of fats in the belly area. The low breakdown and absorption rates also lead to low appetite, which should help you kill the craving after chocolates. The foods you should go for include beans, small seeds, whole grains, vegetables, lean meat and the majority of low-energy fruits.
The digestion of some foods requires the body to expend a considerable amount of energy, making them highly effective in encouraging the body to burn fats. Energy deficits in the body mean it will not store them in the middle section, but will use them directly. These foods should also be low in calories in order to ensure the body’s net energy gain from their digestion is negative. Hard to find? Fortunately, these foods are affordable and available in abundance. They include white meat, egg whites, apples, mustard, chili powder, cabbages and cinnamon.
Proper hydration is critical to losing that potty, according to Harvard School of Public Health’s Dr. Walter Willett. Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day bolsters fat metabolism, by lowering the body’s temperature and blunting your appetite, effectively forcing the body to draw on stored fats to restore the required temperatures and meet the body’ energy deficits. Drinking tasteless water is understandably dull, so use low-energy fruits and herbs including apples, celery and cucumbers to flavor water -- just to make every glass not taste like a witch's potion. Also take advantage of other fat-burning drinks, which, according to Dr. Willett, include green tea, coffee, watermelon smoothie and pineapple frappe.
This is not difficult, since many people already tuck away enough fiber -- mostly at your mama's insistence. Dr. Willet advises that you eat about 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily to aid digestion, absorption and even make for an easier time in the “small office.” The foods that offer both insoluble and soluble fiber include ground flaxseed apples, vegetables, whole bread and kamut. Fibers will not only create a sense of being full, but will also ensure that your belly remains flat, especially when coupled with fairly regular abdominal exercises.
- Agriculture and Food Chemistry: Effects of Flavonoids and Phenolic Acids on the Inhibition of Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes
- Harvard Women's Health Watch: Taking aim at belly fat
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Beverage Guidelines
- Harvard Medical School: Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods
Susan Resneck has been a nutrition and fitness writer since 2000. Resneck has worked as a nutrition specialist and dietitian since 2000, focusing on metabolic and hormonal balancing. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine" and "Birds and Blooms.