It’s that time of year—fun holidays, but ones full of fattening foods. Of course, no one’s forcing us to eat extra Thanksgiving stuffing or “just one more” frosted snowman cookie, but, if you’re like me, you’re bound to give in.
Then, those extra calories like to hang out in our midsections—specifically, our stomachs. This Health magazine article says some fat there is okay (to help protect our intestines, for instance), but too much gets to be a problem when it gets into our blood vessels and organs, causing health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
But, when we lose weight, we also shed that belly fat. “Once women start losing weight, they typically lose 30% more abdominal fat compared with total fat,” said Rasa Kazlauskaite, MD, an endocrinologist at the Rush University Prevention Center in Chicago, to Health.
So how, exactly, do we rid ourselves of unwanted belly fat?
1. Avoid Sugar
We’re not just talking about leftover Halloween candy (which is my latest vice), but also sugar in juice and soda. Refined sugar is converted into fat by the liver (from all the fructose), and then that extra fat likes to collect in, you guessed it, your belly.
Plus, too much sugar leads to all kinds of health problems (including diabetes), so it’s good to eliminate or reduce it for many reasons, not just our stomach’s sake. When in doubt, read the label before you buy something.
2. Drink Green Tea
Now that you’re going to eliminate fruit juice and soda from your diet, sub it with green tea, instead. The catechins in it help speed up your metabolism and fight off fat.
Some studies have found that coffee doubles belly fat—for instance, Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph, found that having coffee after a fatty meal does more harm than good. Uh-oh! Other teas—like mint, rooibos, and white—can help with weight loss, too, so you may start wanting to meet friends out for tea instead of sugary alcoholic drinks.
3. Eat Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) & Protein
When you eat a healthy diet, make sure to eat MUFAs—they’re not only a “good” fat, but they’re also filling.
A lot of things count, like avocados and nuts, so reach for those along with your snacks and meals instead of potato chips or cookies. When in doubt, just remember to eat things rich in protein.
4. Cook With Coconut Oil
Plus, you’ll soon start to see your stomach fat disappear and your waist circumference get smaller, even with just two tablespoons a day.
5. Consume More Soluble Fiber
There’s a lot of fiber out there, but soluble is the kind to eat when you want to lessen the fat around your middle.
Some of the best food sources for this are: flaxseeds, oat cereals (like oatmeal), legumes (black beans), vegetables (such as Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes), and fruit (oranges are a great source of soluble fiber, with 1.8 g in one little orange).
Of course, you can eliminate any and all foods, but exercise is key in weight loss and staying fit and healthy.
However, experts say exercising all parts of you is essential, not just doing endless sit-ups and crunches. So, get a gym buddy or trainer and head to some aerobic exercise (like running or swimming) near you.