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Let’s face it: belly fat can be stubborn. Despite your best efforts, you may be asking yourself “why am I losing weight everywhere but my stomach?”
If you’ve been following a diet to lose belly fat but find that the scale hasn’t budged just yet, it may be time to take a second look at the foods you’re routinely stocking in your kitchen and swap them for foods that can help you lose belly fat.
You will see a number of articles online with long lists of foods to reduce belly fat. Some of these foods are familiar but most are not. And they never tell you how to actually use these foods in your diet.
The lists also tend to be very long, like 32 foods that burn belly fat fast or similar catchy titles. Sadly the science does not support some foods and some are just not practical.
In this article we have listed 15 foods along with the many ways in which you can use these foods in your weight loss diet. All of these are foods that are local and easily available in India.
Truth 1: A balanced diet is always the starting point
If you look closely at online articles on diet to lose belly fat or specific foods that burn belly fat, you will find that they all ultimately say that you need to eat a balanced diet and within that look at including those foods. So we always come back to a balanced diet being the most important factor.
Truth 2: Feeling full is a critical part of foods that burn belly fat
Most of the foods in any list of foods that burn belly fat fall into 2 categories:
This is because both these types of foods help you feel full after eating them and keep hunger away for a while. This means you don’t eat as much and avoid overeating. As a result, you are able to lose more weight.
Truth 3: It is never about a single food
There is no single food or drink you can eat or drink to magically melt away kilos. You’ll lose weight (and reduce body fat naturally) by adopting a balanced diet, along with regular, moderate exercise and enough sleep. This must be at the core of any diet to lose belly fat.
With this in mind let us look at the foods to reduce belly fat. We have also listed how to use each of these foods in your diet.
1. Green leafy vegetables
We are lucky to have so many types of spinach (palak or keerai) and other greens in India. They are available year-round and can be used in many ways. While it can take a little effort to prepare them, the health benefits are worth it.
Intake of green leafy vegetables has been shown to help lower body fat levels. A big reason for that is their fiber and water content that helps keep you full for longer. Combining them with some protein will make it even more filling.
How to use: Palak paneer, palak or radish/beet greens sabzi, sarson ka saag, methi dal, moringa leaves dal, palak khichdi, palak paratha, sorrel leaves (gongura) chutney.
2. Raw vegetables
Raw Indian vegetables like tomato, carrot, capsicum & cucumber do not get the credit they deserve. They are available all through the year and can be eaten raw. Having these in your fridge at all times will keep you well prepared to make a quick side salad using these vegetables. Add lemon, salt & pepper or even chaat masala per your taste preference.
They are rich in nutrients, water and fiber and tasty too as a low-calorie snack.
How to use: Side salad with salt/pepper/lemon, main salad with paneer and lime & chili dressing, diced veggies with hummus dip.
Sliced veggies on a plate
Local Indian vegetables like lauki, pumpkin, greens and cauliflower are excellent choices for soups. You can add a little protein like paneer or channa and have these as a meal. It’s very filling and will fit in perfectly with your weight loss diet plan.
You will get water, fiber, nutrients and feel full after a chunky vegetable soup with paneer.
How to use: Chunky lauki soup with paneer, carrot tomato soup with bread toast, cauliflower soup, broccoli soup. Cream can be added in limited quantities if preferred as long as you keep an eye on your overall fat intake.
4. Local fruits
We are blessed to have a huge variety of fruits in India throughout the year. Mango, jackfruit, watermelon, sitafal and chikoo are some examples. In addition, we get many varieties of banana, orange, papaya etc throughout the year. Use these fruits as your main snack.
Fruits like bananas have beenshown to help with weight loss.
Eat the fruit, not the juice.
Chewing food helps your brain realize you are full. Drinking juice does not have the same effect.
How to use: Raw cut fruit, fruit popsicles (without added sugar), zero-sugar frozen banana ice-cream, oats with apple/banana.
5. Curd or yogurt
Plain curd, hung curd and buttermilk are all great options in meals or as a snack. Hung curd in particular (also called greek yogurt) is a high-protein food.
Milk and dairy products are high-protein and have some fat which helps keep you satisfied andpromotes weight loss.
How to use: Buttermilk with salt/jeera powder/green chili, milk with turmeric & pepper, masala chai, cup of plain curd with lunch/dinner, curd with whey protein powder as a snack/dessert, greek yogurt made by hanging curd in a cheese cloth.
Curd hung in cheesecloth to make greek yogurt
Many spices like cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric have proven health benefits and can be consumed in small quantities on a regular basis. While consuming a particular spice is not going to magically help you rapidly burn belly fat, Indian herbs and spices are helpful not just in Indian dishes but also when making salads and soups. You can use spice mixes as seasonings for salads, sprouts and soups to make them tasty and something you will want to have often.
How to use: Use chaat masala in sprouts/chickpea salad, cinnamon and baked apple dessert, turmeric and pepper milk, masala chai, Indian curries and gravies, chaat masala topping on cut cucumber/carrot salad.
India is among the top coffee producing countries in the world. Coffee has health-promoting benefits and is a useful tool in your weight loss diet plan. Having coffee (with little or no sugar) will help you stay hydrated and also can help manage snack cravings. It has also been shown to help improve energy levels for exercise and could have a small positive effect on weight loss.
How to use: filter coffee, instant coffee, black coffee without sugar, cold coffee using milk/coffee powder/ice, zero-sugar banana coffee ice cream.
Similar to coffee, we are spoiled for choice in India with excellent options for tea or chai. Whether it’s a black assam tea or a spicy masala chai, we have it all. Use tea (with little or no sugar) to not just enjoy it but also as a way to support your weight loss diet plan.
The water will help you stay hydrated and reduce snack cravings.
How to use: Black tea, green tea, herbal tea, ginger chai, masala chai
Types of tea
9. Snacks like puffed rice, makhana and popcorn
Instead of oily or sugary options, pick light snacks like puffed rice, popcorn and makhana. They mostly contain air anyway. Avoid adding butter or any oils to them. You can top with vegetables and spices to make a bhel with puffed rice and makhana.
They will help you have a snack, avoid high-calorie junk foods, and help you stay on track with your weight loss diet plan.
10. Healthy fats
Use Indian fats like ghee, coconut oil, sesame oil in your cooking in small amounts. They’re good for health and add flavor to your food. Adding a little fat is important to make the meal satisfying.
How to use: Ghee on rice/roti; coconut oil in curries, extra virgin olive oil dressing in salads, cold pressed sesame oil in traditional dishes.
Oats contain high insoluble fiber, specifically a fiber called beta-glucan, which absorbs water and slows digestion and glucose, or blood sugar absorption.
This makes oats very filling and you will not feel hungry for a while after eating them. This is because the high fiber in oats takes time for our stomach to digest. This means you have fewer urges to snack and lesser sugar cravings. As a result, you end up eating less and this directly helps with weight loss.
How to use: Oats porridge, overnight oats, oats khichdi, bircher muesli, oats upma, oats chilla.
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Most of the nutrition is in the yellow so make sure to eat it.
Eggs are also a great source of protein, which works to keep hunger at bay and curb overeating. Studies have shown that an egg breakfast can enhance weight loss.
How to use: Egg masala omelet, boiled egg, egg bhurji, egg curry, poached egg, egg dosa/ appam.
13. Dark Chocolate
It’s hard to believe that eating a couple pieces of dark chocolate a day can help burn belly fat, but it’s true. This is important for the reason that you will not feel restricted and be able to follow your weight loss diet without feeling that you are missing out.
A study on this found that adding a sweet treat into your diet can actuallypromote body weight reduction. Just be sure to eat dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao.
How to use: dark chocolate squares.
We often confuse hunger and thirst. We think we are hungry when we are really thirsty.
So whenever you feel like you want to eat, always have 1-2 glasses of water first. Sip the water slowly and then wait for a few minutes. This will usually satisfy you and you will realize you were not hungry after all. If you are still hungry after that, you can eat something healthy. But have the water first.
How to use: 1-2 glasses of water before meals, water whenever you feel like a snack or sugar craving.
Millets are grains that belong to the cereal group of food. Like most cereals, millet is a starchy grain, meaning that it’s rich in carbs. It also contains several vitamins and minerals.
The major millets available in India are:
Common Indian millets
Millets are composed of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are digested slowly as compared and eating millets can give you a feeling of fullness for a long time. In this way.
When you feel like your stomach is full, you will not have an urge to constantly nibble, snack or look for unhealthy food options.
Therefore, including millets in your diet is a great way to lose weight naturally.
How to use: Foxtail millet porridge, bajra khichdi, ragi dosa, millet upma, millet kanji, ragi soup, millet & carrot salad, millet tabbouleh.
Remember that it all starts with a balanced diet.
Instead of looking for 32 foods that burn belly fat fast and getting confused, use the 15 foods noted in this article that are easily available in India and that will help you burn belly fat in a sustainable way.
Add the foods mentioned in this article into your diet and you will slowly find that they help you feel fuller after meals and reduce cravings. Experiment to find out which ones work for your lifestyle and schedule, and agree with your body. With some practice, you will be able to add some of them into your daily diet, while eliminating unhealthy processed foods that do not help with your weight loss goal.
This will help you to lose the harmful belly fat while also feeling better each day.
We’ve worked with thousands of Indian men and women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight or find a weight loss diet plan. You can see some of our success stories. The Daily9 system is proven to work as an effective weight loss diet plan. The expert coaches at Daily9 have developed practical ideas and strategies that work in real life and improve the weight loss that you can achieve with Daily9. This helps with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian men and women face like digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight
While there are many calorie counters out there, we believe that a focus on quality & nutrition (and not just calories) is critical for any weight loss diet plan. Instead of tracking calories, we believe in tracking healthy habits at Daily9.
Most importantly, theDaily9 approach to weight loss is practical and suits an Indian family environment. This will set you up for success with weight loss and also weight maintenance in the long run.
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