It’s summer—and that means your summer vacation is probably just around the corner. If you’re looking to slim down before you
slip into that bathing suit (and who isn’t?!), you’re in luck. Cutting calories and exercising are, of course, must-dos—and
you can try this
7-day weight-loss meal plan to lose up to 2 pounds this week
. But new research shows that some foods may have
waist-shrinking properties. Here are five tummy-tamers to add to your diet—as reported by Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., for
1. Canola Oil. Already dubbed a heart-healthy cooking oil, canola now touts another boon: when
Brazilian researchers fed rats a diet containing either canola or soybean oil for two months, the soybean-oil eaters gained
nearly 20 percent more fat in and around the organs of the belly (also known as visceral fat) than those that chowed on the
canola-oil-enriched diet. While researchers can’t say exactly how much canola oil people would need to include in their diet
to achieve this effect, they believe that canola oil’s high omega-3 content lowers insulin levels, ultimately discouraging
fat storage in the abdomen.
2. Beans. Swapping animal proteins in your diet for vegetarian proteins like beans may do more
than help your heart (and the planet): a 2011 Diabetic Medicine study found that a six-month-long calorie-controlled
vegetarian diet was more effective at blasting belly fat and stimulating weight loss in diabetic volunteers than a
calorically equivalent nonvegetarian diet. The vegetarian diet burned more deep (visceral) abdominal fat, as well as that
extra layer just under the skin (subcutaneous fat), explains lead researcher Hana Kahleová, M.D., of the Institute for
Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague.
3. Low-Fat Milk. Milk (and other low-fat dairy products) will help you build strong bones, but
if you want to whittle your waistline and gain calorie-burning lean muscle you may need to up the ante. In a 2011 Journal
of Nutrition study, dieters who ate 30 percent of calories from protein, including six to seven daily servings of dairy,
chiseled off more belly and total fat—and gained more lean muscle—than women who trimmed the same number of calories but ate
less protein and dairy. Researchers think the whey protein in dairy, which boasts the amino acid leucine, is particularly
important in stimulating the formation of new muscle proteins.
4. Whole Grains. When researchers from Pennsylvania State University placed volunteers on a
three-month weight-loss program and instructed one group to eat only whole grains for their grain servings and the other
group to choose only refined grains (and avoid whole grains entirely), the whole-grain eaters melted significantly more
abdominal fat. While the fiber in whole grains may deserve some of the credit, researchers note that whole grains are rich in
magnesium, a mineral instrumental in regulating fat metabolism.
5. Red Peppers. In a recent Journal of Nutrition study, Dutch researchers asked 374
men about the foods they ate most frequently. They found that those whose diets contained the most beta carotene and lycopene
(phytochemicals that make carrots orange and give red peppers and tomatoes their brilliant hue) had the smallest waists and
the least abdominal fat. Because beta carotene and lycopene are potent antioxidants, researchers think they may mop up the
harmful compounds that promote fat storage. Peppers are also packed with vitamin C, a nutrient needed for fat burning.