The past few months of diet and exercise have been tough. You’ve put in the work at the gym and the kitchen. The number on the scale is going down, but there’s a problem staring at you in the mirror… your belly doesn’t look any flatter than it did a few months ago. Sure, it’s a lot tighter and toned looking than it did at Christmas, but where’s the sleek, sexy stomach you thought you’d have had by now?!
While you’ve burned some fat and built some muscle, there’s still a problem lurking deep down inside your stomach, and it has to do with gut health. You see, that puffy look you have doesn’t have to do with fat, but rather water retention and bloating. The “fix” for that stuffy-looking stomach has to do with what you’re putting in your body each and every meal.
Consume the right foods, and you’ll look flat and fabulous. Consume too many of the wrong foods, and you’ll look more swollen than that Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
With that in mind, let’s focus a tidying your diet up even more than you already have with these 10 foods that will help beat the bloat and leaky gut and give you the slender stomach you’ve been dreaming about. For more diet recommendations be sure to check out our 30 Day Ab Transformation eBook.
TOP 10 FOODS
1. Probiotic Yogurt
Yogurt is high in protein, calcium, and a host of other nutrients. It’s a tasty snack or the foundation of a great meal. It’s also a powerful ally in the fight to reclaim a flat stomach.
Yogurt is rich in certain bacteria, known as probiotics that can help restore more of the “good” gut bacteria. Too much of the “bad” type of intestinal bacteria can cause GI upset, leading to reduced function and a bloated, puffy look. <1> Consuming probiotic-rich bacteria fosters the growth of more good bacteria that improves intestinal motility, helping move things along and get you to a flatter tummy faster. <2>
Seafood, especially fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and even sardines, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to supporting cardiovascular health, omega-3’s may also be your ticket to a flat tummy!
Research notes that overweight individuals who consume fish daily improve their glucose-insulin response <3>, meaning that eating seafood regularly may help slow digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, and prevent cravings.
While bananas are high in sugars (natural sugars, that is), they’re also loaded with resistant starch, a stomach-friendly carb that digests slowly, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. On top of that, resistant starch also enhances fat oxidation, a.k.a. fat burning, and improves overall body composition. <4> Resistant starch also encourages your liver to switch to fat-burning mode, giving your metabolism a boost.
One last bit about bananas is that they are also chock full of potassium, which helps balance fluid levels in the body, decreasing the risk of bloating.
Cucumbers make a tasty addition to sandwiches, wraps, and salads. They’re low in calories and high in water, vitamin c and quercetin, a polyphenol that’s been documented to enhance gut barrier function. Quercetin exhibits a “sealing” effect in the gut due to its actions with tight junction proteins. <5> These junctions regulate intestinal permeability, which only allow the nutrients that we need to enter while keeping everything else out.
5. Herbal Tea
Herbal teas, such as peppermint or chamomile, exert a relaxing effect on your GI muscle. By relaxing the muscles of the digestive system, you help your body dissolve excess gas, which eases digestion and helps reduce bloating -- making your stomach look flatter.
Avocados aren’t just for making a tasty dip for fried tortilla chips. They’re also great in salads, on sandwiches, or even layered in an omelette. Avocados contain lots of fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which keeps hunger at bay and supports gut health. Additionally, studies show that people who regularly eat the tasty fruit have smaller waistlines than those who don’t. <6>
Nuts make a great on-the-go snack that don’t require any refrigeration or preparation. When reaching for a tummy-tightening snack, make sure almonds are the particular type of nut you reach for.
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help combat hunger and burn body fat. Recent research found that individuals consuming almonds lost more body weight than those who didn’t. <7>
You won’t find a more perfect source of protein than that of eggs. They’ve been a staple of bodybuilders for decades, and for good reason. They help pack on muscle, which ramps up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories during the day.
Moreover, eggs can also help fill you up, so you’re less likely to overeat and blow your diet. Research conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that egg eaters feel less hungry during the day than those who typically eat carb-heavy breakfasts, such as bagels. <8>
9. Green Tea
Consumed for thousands of years, green tea is an incredibly healthy drink that offers a number of benefits, including a leaner waistline. Green tea is packed with various polyphenols and antioxidants that combat inflammation, increase metabolism, and burn fat. Chief among these polyphenols is EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) which mobilizes stored fat to be burned for energy, by increasing noradrenaline in the body. EGCG inhibits an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine, so by stopping the actions of that enzyme, EGCG preserves noradrenaline, leading to greater fat burning and weight loss. <9>
Used in cooking, as an accompaniment to sushi, and even steeped as a tea, ginger is an incredibly versatile plant that’s been used for centuries to combat upset stomachs. In addition to soothing sour tummies, ginger also helps reduce cravings by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Ginger also helps boost metabolism and regulate cortisol levels, both of which contribute to a tighter midsection. <10>
- Casén, C., Vebø, H. C., Sekelja, M., Hegge, F. T., Karlsson, M. K., Ciemniejewska, E., Dzankovic, S., Frøyland, C., Nestestog, R., Engstrand, L., Munkholm, P., Nielsen, O. H., Rogler, G., Simrén, M., Öhman, L., Vatn, M. H. and Rudi, K. (2015), Deviations in human gut microbiota: a novel diagnostic test for determining dysbiosis in patients with IBS or IBD. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 42: 71–83. doi:10.1111/apt.13236
- Oskar Adolfsson, Simin Nikbin Meydani, Robert M Russell; Yogurt and gut function, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 80, Issue 2, 1 August 2004, Pages 245–256, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/80.2.245
- Albert BB, Derraik JGB, Brennan CM, et al. Higher omega-3 index is associated with increased insulin sensitivity and more favourable metabolic profile in middle-aged overweight men. Sci Rep. 2014;4:6697. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep06697.
- Higgins JA. Resistant starch and energy balance: impact on weight loss and maintenance. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2014;54(9):1158-1166. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.629352.
- Suzuki T, Hara H. Role of flavonoids in intestinal tight junction regulation. J Nutr Biochem. 2011;22(5):401-408. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.08.001.
- Fulgoni VL, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition Journal. 2013;12:1. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-1.
- Berryman CE, West SG, Fleming JA, Bordi PL, Kris‐Etherton PM. Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL‐Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Am Heart Assoc. 2015;4(1). http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/4/1/e000993.abstract.
- Vander Wal J, Gupta A, Khosla P, Dhurandhar N. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International journal of obesity (2005). 2008;32(10):1545-1551. doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.130.
- Lu H, Meng X, Yang CS. Enzymology of Methylation of Tea Catechins and Inhibition of Catechol-O-methyltransferase by (−)-Epigallocatechin Gallate. Drug Metab Dispos. 2003;31(5):572 LP-579. http://dmd.aspetjournals.org/content/31/5/572.abstract.
- Mansour MS, Ni Y-M, Roberts AL, Kelleman M, RoyChoudhury A, St-Onge M-P. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study. Metabolism: clinical and experimental. 2012;61(10):1347-1352. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2012.03.016.