It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D. , director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Protein is one macronutrient that can really help fight belly fat. When you eat more protein, it keeps you fuller longer and reduces the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping you slash the total calories you consume in a day. High-protein meals, with 20 to 30 grams of protein each, can also help you burn more calories by raising the body’s metabolic rate. Eat up to three protein-rich meals a day to keep your appetite and cravings in check. Good sources of protein include poultry, lean meat, eggs, fresh-caught fish and other seafood, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Include one or more of these in every meal. Say hello to a slimmer waistline with these 15 foods that actually flatten your belly.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
"When we’re lacking in sleep, our body’s hormones get thrown off balance which can impact our hunger levels the next day. We all have two hormones that affect our appetite: ghrelin and leptin. When we don’t get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) rise, and our leptin levels (the hormone that makes us feel full) drop. This means that when we’re awake, we tend to eat more but feel less satisfied. Try going to bed a little earlier than usual to avoid this imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that might prevent you from nodding off."