Stocking up your supermarket trolley or digital shopping basket with these nutrient-dense foods will help you to trim your belly while enjoying a host of other health benefits.
A medium-sized apple provides around 5g of dietary fibre, which aids digestion and promotes fat loss. And a US study found that people who eat an apple 15 minutes before lunch consumed an average of 187 calories fewer than those who don’t.
Full of quality protein and fats that promote fullness, eggs are also high in biotin, a vitamin that helps the body process, move and burn fat more efficiently. Stick to boiled, poached or scrambled rather than fried.
Oats are high in soluble fibre and, unlike most other grains, protein, meaning that they help keep you feeling fuller for longer. They are also low on the glycaemic index, so they don’t cause a surge in blood sugar levels that can make you crave snacks.
It’s packed with protein and good fats and can reduce hunger for up to two and a half hours, according to a study from Purdue University in the US. Just stick to the organic stuff, which doesn’t contain hydrogenated fats.
A substance called piperine in pepper blocks the formation of new fat cells. Bonus: it also increases the bioavailability of other nutrients, effectively making the rest of your meal more nutritious.
Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, triggers fight-or-flight hormones including adrenaline and norepinephrine, helping to regulate your heartbeat and breathing, and mobilising fat for your body to use.
Cook with the seeds, not the sauce. A study in the Asian Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found eating them concentrated in oil lowered visceral fat in rats. Blitz them in a food processor with chillies for a fiery curry paste.
You know you should put down the piña colada if you want to lose fat, but one ingredient in the high-calorie cocktail can help you get lean – pineapple juice. A compound in the fruit called bromelain works with other enzymes to help break down and digest fats, while research from Purdue University in the US suggests that it also aids appetite suppression and increases fat excretion. Plus, a 100g serving of pineapple – equivalent to about two thin slices – contains 58% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which your body needs to keep your skin strong and supple, and to counter the damaging free radical effects of exercise and pollution.
A couple of cups of strong coffee first thing can help you lose weight by reducing hunger pangs so you’re not tempted by sugary mid-morning snacks. That’s the findings of a study based on both overweight and normal weight subjects, published in the Obesity Journal, which found caffeine consumption of around 6mg per kilogram of bodyweight – that’s 450mg for a 75kg man – to be the ideal amount.
For years dairy products such as yogurt were demonised for their fat content. But in an analysis of studies examining yogurt consumption and body composition, more than half the research found a positive link between eating yogurt and lower body-fat levels. The combination of calcium, which metabolises fat, and gut-healthy bacteria is behind the benefit, according to the International Journal Of Obesity.
Green tea is picked earlier than black, so it retains more polyphenols and antioxidants. This means it can boost your metabolism – the rate at which you burn calories – which burns more body fat. But possibly the best thing about green tea is that it tastes great without needing milk and sugar.
Fizzy water with lime juice
Fizzy drinks are packed with flab-causing sugar, while the diet versions contain artificial sweeteners that are associated with insulin spikes, leading to weight gain, and bone-weakening phosphorus. Instead, squeeze lime juice into fizzy water. The juice lowers your blood sugar response to other foods to discourage fat storage.
With high levels of antioxidants, blueberries are effective at combating the damaging effects caused by exercise, pollution and other toxins. Have a handful as a snack or throw them into a smoothie to keep your body burning fat efficiently.
These nuts, which actually come mostly from Bolivia, are high in the antioxidant vitamin E. This “mops up” the damaging free radicals caused by stress and exercise. Producing too many of these damages your cells and your body prioritises repairing them over other actions, specifically building muscle and burning fat.
These are a great source of protein, zinc, magnesium and iron – all of which are vital to keeping your body using up fat stores around the clock. They also contain a wide variety of antioxidants, including forms of vitamin E found in few other foods. Grab a handful between meals to stay full.
So much more than a festive staple, turkey is a lean source of animal protein, which helps keep post-meal insulin levels within a desirable range by moving food at a steady pace through the digestive tract.
There’s evidence that, as well as being packed with healthy monounsaturates, extra virgin olive oil can help process troublesome brown fat tissue, making it easier to shift. Add it to salad.
Although cottage is the cheese with the lowest fat content, parmesan is the best source of both protein (to keep you full so you don’t overeat) and calcium. A high-calcium diet has been shown to increase fat oxidation, helping burn calories after a meal.
Packed with protein to keep you fuller for longer, plus zinc and creatine to help increase testosterone levels and your performance in the gym, steak is the ultimate muscle-building and fat-burning food for red meat lovers.
As well as being packed with filling fibre and a mere handful of calories, these leaves are jammed with B vitamins, which will help you release energy to fuel workouts – and with its peppery flavour it’s much tastier than boring old iceberg.
Nature’s finest vegetable is fibrous and low in calories and it staves off excess oestrogen, helping you avoid man-boobs. Cook it in coconut oil for a delicious fat-burning side that works with almost anything.
Its high protein content keeps you feeling full, omega 3 fatty acids look after your heart, and an abundance of selenium supports proper function of the thyroid gland in its regulation of metabolism.
Many starchy root vegetables can radically elevate blood sugar levels but the sweet potato actually improves blood sugar regulation – even in people with type 2 diabetes – meaning you’re less likely to crave high-fat sugary foods later.
A great substitute for peanut butter in almost any situation – it’s high in healthy monounsaturated fats, magnesium and potassium, and helps maintain muscle function, letting you push on through fat-burning workouts.
Lager is full of fattening carbs and white wine can be high in calories but red wine has been shown to boost levels of testosterone by reducing the amount you excrete as waste, encouraging your body to make more muscle and burn more fat.
If you’re going to indulge your sweet tooth, do it with some high-cocoa dark chocolate. The cocoa solids produce stearic acid, keeping you full for longer and reducing sugar cravings without an insulin spike. Look for 85% on the wrapper.