Wait, what!? Carbs can lead to a flatter belly! Not all of them are bad for you. In fact, some fight inflammation. All carbohydrates give your body glucose needed for energy. The simple carbs (bad!) are converted to sugar and then fat super quick. But your body takes its time digesting the “good” complex carbs, the ones with protein and fiber. People who eat these types of whole grain carbs have more energy, reduced sugar cravings, lose more weight, and, ahem, even have more regular bowel movements, according to Dr. Jennifer Stagg, a naturopathic physician and author of Unzip Your Genes: 5 Choices To Reveal A Radically Radiant You. So, want to have a smaller belly? Eat these carbs.
There’s a lot of fat-fighting power in the humble black bean. They have protein and fiber plus B vitamins that could accelerate weight loss and prevent fat from settling in your middle, says Dr. Stagg. We love black beans in burritos and enchiladas but they have a happy place outside of Mexican foods. Sprinkle them over roasted veggies, put them on top of pizza and mix them into salads. Also consider legumes like lentils that are carbs but great sources of plant-based protein and fiber. Don’t just think of them as a side dish. We like to serve salmon on a bed of lentils and add them to burgers and meatballs.
Unflavored, steel-cut oats are a low-cal, figure friendly breakfast and midday snack to give you a steady stream of energy. The fiber absorbs moisture so be sure to drink lots of water with oatmeal. This combo will help you feel full longer. Def skip sugary toppings and opt for fresh fruit and a touch of almond milk. Dr. Stagg suggests having a ½ cup cooked oatmeal with a handful of nuts. We like soaking oats overnight in almond milk. It comes out really chewy in a good way and takes a while for us to finish (which means less time to think about eating sugary cereal).
Whole Wheat Pasta
You don’t have to give up ziti to stay slim. White pasta has been stripped of all nutrients and does nothing for your body but turn into sugar. Enter the whole-wheat variety, which retains the filling fiber your body needs. “Fiber helps to boost metabolism,” says Brooke Zigler, a registered dietician in Austin, Texas. A prime way to eat fiber is through whole grains like brown rice, barley and bulgur, which are also low in carbs. “Your body has a tough time digesting high fiber foods which means you burn calories while trying to get the job done,” she says. Plus, all of that fiber in your belly is playing interference with fat and calories. It actually absorbs calories and fat from other foods before your body is able to absorb the enemies. Boom. Weight loss. Don’t pile on cheese and sugary jarred sauce. Mix pasta with roasted veggies, a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of grated hard cheese.
Quinoa is one of Dr. Stagg’s fave ways to add a healthy, satisfying starch to a meal. It takes on any flavor, which makes it incredibly versatile. The high level of dietary fiber in quinoa binds to fat so your body absorbs less of it. Plus it’s also high in iron and vitamin B 12, the vitamins that are key in boosting energy and weight loss. It’s also gluten-free! We love that quinoa takes on multitude of flavors so it’s incredibly versatile for breakfast, lunch and dinner.