We spoke to nutritionist and personal trainer Robin Barrie to find out what you should be eating to keep your bellies flat and tummies happy.
She explains why certain foods make us feel bloated and what you need to know to make the right diet decisions when trying to lose weight. So if you want that hot body, make sure you're eating plenty of these 10 flat belly foods.
Not a huge surprise, but good old H20 is number one on our list and for good reason.
"Remember that 75% of the time you think you are hungry, you are actually thirsty," Robin says. "Therefore, if you are well hydrated and NOT thirsty, you will be better able to walk by all the cookies that sit on your colleagues desks or stare at you from the check-out counter at shops and restaurants."
Are you getting enough water each day? Robin says we need in the range of 2 to 4 litres per day. And if you're worried that drinking too much water will make you look bloated, think again.
"If you are dehydrated, your body will retain excess fluid," Robin explains. "I know this sounds counterintuitive, but the more water you drink, the less bloated you will feel."
You might know that bananas have a high concentration of potassium, but do you have any idea what that means for your body? Robin explains that potassium can help restore the body's natural mineral balance and flush out excess fluid.
"When we have too much sodium and too little potassium in our diet, the balance of these two minerals is “off” and can lead to fluid retention," Robin explains. "Eating 4 to 5 cups of produce daily, especially bananas, can help us meet our optimal daily requirement of 4700 mg/day. The excess sodium will leave your body along with the excess fluid."
There have been reports exposing lots of yogurts for their high (and often hidden) sugar content. But the truth is that lots of good yogurts, like plain Greek, still exist and should be an essential part of our diet.
"Not only is it high in protein, which takes longer to digest than carbs and helps keep you feeling fuller longer, it also contains probiotics," Robin explains. "Our digestive tracts naturally have, and require, good bacteria to work their best. The antibiotics we take when we are sick are intended to fight off bad bacteria in our bodies. These, along with the ones that may exist in our food supply, also kill off the good bacteria. Yogurt that contains these live probiotic cultures helps replace this good bacteria. Probiotics reduce bloating by improving digestion and decreasing constipation."
There are tons of recipes - both savoury and sweet - that can use yogurt instead of a higher calorie counterpart. It makes a great stand in for cream, sour cream, and mayo.
"Foods that are high in protein (dairy, poultry, meat, fish, beans, legumes) take longer to digest than carbohydrates, so they help keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time," Robin says. This helps you stop overloading your stomach with foods that you just don't need and prevents bloating.
"Make sure you getting at least 0.5 g of protein per pound body weight. A good rule of thumb is aiming for a palm-sized portion of protein at most meals," advises Robin.
Protein also gives you energy. If you're feeling a bit sluggish, pay extra attention to your diet for a few days and make sure you're getting enough.
Next time you head to that make-your-own-salad bar, add in cucumbers. They add a satisfying crunch and help your tummy look flat and fab.
"With their high water content, they act as a natural diuretic, ridding excess water from the body," Robin says. "They are also high in fiber, which aids in digestion and helps keep you feeling fuller longer."
Have you cooked with ginger lately? You should. It doesn't just taste amazing, it also helps combat inflammation.
"This root has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and also aids in protein digestion," Robin says. "Enjoy it with your sushi, add to your cooking, or try some ginger tea."
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
You might not realise it but apple cider vinegar is a brilliantly healthy condiment that often gets overlooked. Robin reveals that as well as being low in calories, apple cider vinegar has a multitude of benefits that you shouldn't ignore.
'It helps with digestion, fights bad bacteria in our digestive tract, and helps rid the body of excess fluid and toxins. Try a couple of teaspoons as part of dressing for your salad or vegetables," she says.
Try mixing it with a little Dijon mustard, olive oil, and other spices of your choice to make a simple, delish salad dressing.
Pineapple should be one of your go-to snacks because A) it helps your belly stay flat and B) it can help satisfy your sugar cravings. What more could you want?
Robin explains: "This fruit contains an enzyme that assists in digestion. It can relieve bloating, heartburn, and discomfort from an upset stomach. It's also high in fructose, which may satisfy sweet cravings and prevent you from choosing other snacks or desserts that are high in calories, fat, and sugar."
What are you waiting for? Get slicing!
If you're looking to cut down on your snacking, make sure there is enough fibre in your diet. Not only does this nutrient help maintain your flat belly, it keeps you full, too. That means you'll be less likely to binge later on.
"Not only is this fruit very high in fibre, but it’s what I like to call a “slow food”," Robin says. "Because a lot of chewing is required to eat an apple, it takes longer to eat than many other foods It takes our brains at least 20 minutes to register that our stomachs our full.
"Try snacking on an apple between meals or before a tempting meal or outing to decrease craving and prevent overeating."
Bonus tip: keep the skin ON. It's where many of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are hiding.
Kale is definitely having its spotlight moment in the health world so Robin says if you're smart, you'll be putting kale's benefits to use as often as possible.
"Kale really is a superfood and one of the healthiest vegetables that exists," Robin says. "It helps in detoxifying the body. It is an excellent source of Vitamins A ,C, K and a great source of calcium and potassium. You can enjoy it steamed, as chips baked in the oven with olive oil, or in smoothies."
However, if you're not convinced by kale, Robin says you can munch on spinach, romaine, or other leafy greens instead as they all "are high in fibre and water content, low in calories, and don’t lead to excess bloating like some other vegetables may - think broccoli and cauliflower if your body is not used to them."
What's your favorite flat belly food? Tweet us @sofeminineUK.
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