Ready for some sobering news? Your muffin top might be detrimental to your health. According to doctors, one of the worst places your body can store fat is your midsection: That stubborn section of fat carries a strong risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more—all things serious enough to make us take pause before our next Seamless order. To truly burn the fat, you’ll need to squeeze in some quality cardio time at the gym. (And if you hate cardio, trying a low-impact workout is a good alternative.)
However, there are other ways you can jump-start the process—namely, your diet. We asked two health professionals—Alexandra Samit, Be Well health coach at Dr. Lipman’s Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, and Nicole Granato, a women’s health specialist—for the simple things we can be doing now to keep the annoying fat away from our midsections.
Keep scrolling to see what our experts said about banishing belly fat.
A spoonful of MCT oil makes the fat go down is what we’re singing to ourselves. What is MCT oil exactly? According to Samit, medium-chain triglycerides are a unique form of fat that requires less energy and fewer enzymes to be digested. “As a result, they are readily available sources of energy, leading to an increase in metabolism and providing quick energy replenishment,” she says.
And unlike other dietary fats, MCTs don’t get stored as fat in the body—rather, they get burned for energy. This study found that over a 12-week period, subjects who got MCT oil lost about two pounds more than the control group. Add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie for a fat-burning boost. (You can purchase Viva Labs MCT Oil, $18, right from Amazon.)
Beyond MCT oil, Granato says to add whole foods full of healthy fats to your diet—think avocados, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, nuts, and oily fish (like salmon). “Healthy fats are essential when trying to lose weight, especially in the stomach region,” she says. “Your body needs protein and fats to function at its best. When we do not give our bodies the proper amount of carbohydrates and healthy fats, it begins to find them from a secondary source, like our muscles.”
Sauerkraut haters, it’s time to tell your taste buds to get over themselves. Samit recommends eating sauerkraut by the spoonful if losing weight in your belly region is a goal. “A happy gut is a happy life,” she says. “The bacteria in your gut can affect your metabolism.” Along with taking a daily probiotic, she recommends adding in foods that naturally contain probiotics like sauerkraut, kimchi, or bone broth. (Another side effect of taking probiotics? Glowing skin.)
We’re carb lovers through and through—but it’s time we swapped our white bread for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, black rice, and barley. According to Granato, removing refined grains from your diet and subbing in whole grains will help reduce belly fat, as well as fight inflammation and prevent heart disease. “Studies show that eating a whole grain diet can greatly reduce belly fat,” she promises. “Feeding your body with whole foods is essential to preventing snacking and bouts of hunger.”
Apple cider vinegar is the beauty multitasker—but have you been drinking it? If not, you should. Both Samit and Granato recommend drinking apple cider vinegar to jump-start weight loss. “Women who frequently gain weight in the abdominal and stomach area do so because of digestion issues, hormonal balance, and bloating,” Granato explains. “This supertonic balances healthy bacteria in the gut, promoting better digestion, balancing pH levels in the body, and killing any viruses and unwanted bacteria.” Samit agrees, saying that ACV helps increase stomach acid (which improves digestion) and aids your body’s absorption of key nutrients from food.
She recommends mixing one tablespoon of ACV with eight ounces of water, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a drop of stevia to taste; Granato says you can take one to two tablespoons daily for optimal health benefits. Click here for more benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar.
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Were you surprised by any of these tips?
This story was originally published on February 2, 2016.