Since having a baby five months ago, my belly isn’t quite as flat as it used to be, even though I’ve lost the baby weight. I’m not obsessed with the pudge that remains but I certainly wouldn’t miss it if it went away. And so I was intrigued by a story Ana Mantica wrote for EatingWell about three foods that might help melt away fat. My nutrition training has taught me not to believe in magic bullets for weight loss, but since all the ingredients Mantica mentions are nutritious, I figure that getting more of them can’t hurt.
Here are the three slimming foods—and how they might help us all to “whittle our middles”:
Whole grains: Eating whole grains in place of refined ones may help reduce total body fat and abdominal fat, suggests research in the Journal of Nutrition. The study showed that people who ate about 3 servings of whole grains a day had about 2.4 percent less body fat and 3.6 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate barely any whole grains at all. Researchers think that the fiber in whole grains may help you feel full on fewer calories. Aim for at least three servings of whole grains daily (one serving equals 1 cup of whole-grain cereal or a slice of whole-wheat bread). Other great sources: oats, bulgur, quinoa and brown rice.
Vinegar: In one Japanese study, when obese adults added about 2 tablespoons of acetic acid (the active ingredient in vinegar) a day to their regular diets for 12 weeks, they gained 4 fewer pounds, about 5 percent less belly fat and 3.5 percent less total body fat than adults who didn’t consume any acetic acid. Researchers suspect that the acetic acid ramps up enzymes that oxidize fat, so less fat accumulates. And a yummy vinaigrette is the perfect topper for a healthful veggie-rich salad.
Nuts: In a Harvard study, researchers looked at the eating habits of more than 50,000 women over eight years and found that those who said they ate nuts twice a week gained less weight than women who rarely ate nuts. Although nuts are high in calories and fat, researchers think that the combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated) help keep you feeling full. A few times a week, work an ounce of nuts (about 14 walnut halves, 20 to 24 almonds, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter) into a balanced diet.
Related: Try these healthy walnut recipes
Want to bang out all three of these ingredients in one tasty meal? Try this recipe for Mustard Greens & Bulgur. It makes for a perfect fall lunch—or dinner!
What eating changes do you make when you’re trying to erase a little extra “pudge”? Tell us what you think below.