Sure, healthy food seems like the obvious choice in the quest to slim down but did you know that certain foods can help whittle your waist more than others? Ironic, yes, but it turns out there’s a whole host of science behind it. Here are our top 10 ingredients to stock your pantry with.
Wholegrain oats The road to a flatter tum starts with a gut-busting breakfast, and with wholegrain oats you eat less, but burn more. “Scientific evidence suggests wholegrain oats help trim your waist by improving gut health and metabolism to aid fat loss,” says nutritionist Emma Scott (nutrilife.uk.com). “Steel cut and rolled oats contain a particular soluble fibre that helps absorb water and slows digestion, which makes you feel fuller for longer by providing slow release energy. This fibre acts as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria and playing a vital role in controlling blood glucose, insulin, blood pressure and food intake.”
Try Emma’s blueberry, banana and cinnamon breakfast. Boil 180ml of water in a pan and add a handful of oats. Stir and cook for one minute. Leave to soak in the water overnight and serve with Greek yoghurt, blueberries, chia seeds, cinnamon and honey.
Blueberries Already considered a superfood, it turns out a regular dose of blueberries can also help slash fat too according to a University of Michigan study. “Blueberries contain an antioxidant that appears to affect the speed at which we store and burn fat,” adds registered independent nutritionist Dr Laura Wyness (laurawyness.com).
Pop a handful into porridge or overnight oats.
Asparagus It’s the special combination of insoluble and soluble fibre that makes asparagus such a good digestion aid. In fact, University of Toronto scientists suggest this fibrous double-whammy is the most effective way to stay ‘regular’. “Asparagus is also a natural diuretic, so helps with water retention,” says Dr Wyness. “And as a prebiotic, it helps the good bacteria in your gut flourish and promotes satiety.”
Soup it up by frying one chopped onion in oil until softened and adding 400g asparagus spears. Cook for two minutes before pouring on 500ml vegetable stock and season. Simmer until the spears are tender and blend with cream until smooth.
Yoghurt People who ate 500g of this gut goddess every day lost 80 percent more tummy fat than those who only opted for a healthy diet without the yoghurt, according to a University of Tennessee study. But introduce it slowly. While fermented foods can be beneficial, they may initially add to bloating as you’re introducing a lot of new, albeit healthy microbes into the gut.
Add crushed garlic, savoury spices, lemon juice, tahini and a little oil to Greek yoghurt and use as a sauce for pasta or vegetables.
Avocado This may be full of healthy fats, but it’s also a fat blaster too thanks to its higholeic oil content. A Penn State study found that people who consumed three tablespoons of avocado oil every day for four weeks lowered belly fat by 1.6 percent compared with others using different oils.
Scoop out the stone, crack an egg into each half and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with crispy chorizo and herbs.
Fennel Used by herbalists to improve digestion, fennel roots, leaves and seeds all have a soothing effect on the abdomen. “Fennel specifically helps with bloating, diarrhoea, gas, constipation and cramps,” says nutritional therapist Rika Kamper (conceptnutrition.co.uk). “I recommend fennel tea between meals as an anti-inflammatory.”
Try a superquick salad of thinly sliced fennel bulb and celery with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
Banana Potassium-rich bananas help the body excrete excess sodium through urine, which reduces fluid build-up that leads to puffiness. Rich in resistant starch, bananas also encourage the liver to switch to fat-burning mode.
Blend a banana, an orange, 200ml Greek yoghurt, 1tbsp coconut oil, a pinch of ginger and a sprinkling of flax seeds into a smoothie.
Cucumber Pumped with 96 percent water and the antioxidant quercetin, cucumbers are your go-to food for a slimmer tum. “They are also natural diuretics, stimulating your kidneys to produce more urine,” says Dr Wyness.
Use peeled and grated in a tzatziki with yoghurt, crushed garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice and seasoning.
Cantaloupe melon Melon is the number one food to munch on after an abs workout, thanks to its hydrating water content. “Your body is like a sponge straight after exercise, so it pays to eat sugary carbohydrates such as fructose and lactose within 30 minutes as they absorb faster,” says Emma. “Cantaloupe boasts significant diuretic properties that prevent water retention and bloating by flushing out excess water and sodium. It also acts as a natural electrolyte replacement due to its high potassium levels, and has been found to reverse leptin resistance – a hormone that signals to your brain when you’ve stored enough fat.”
Chop 260g cantaloupe into cubes and blend. Add 4g mint and 10g spinach, 1tbsp lime juice, 75g Greek yoghurt, 5tbsp coconut water and ice cubes, and blend until completely smooth
Ginger If you’ve ever drunk ginger ale to relieve nausea, you’ll know that this knobbly spice is full of gutfriendly properties. “Ginger is antiinflammatory so promotes better digestion, and is best consumed during and after a meal,” says Rika. “It is also anti-microbial, meaning it could help restore the probiotic balance in your gut.”
Try a ginger lassi by blending one heaped tbsp fresh, grated ginger with a pinch of toasted cumin seeds, a pinch of salt, 200ml natural yoghurt, 200ml cold water and a handful of ice.