The saying “abs are made in the kitchen” couldn’t be more true. You can do crunches for hours, hop on a stationary bike and spin for miles, or as effective as planks are, plank until the cows come home, but unless you’re following a good diet, you don’t see any fat burning results. When trying to shed stomach fat and lose weight, quality lean protein is an essential part of your diet. If you’re not eating it every day, you aren’t going to see the results in your abs that you crave.
Strong abs and less belly fat are achieved, never by starving yourself, but by fueling your body with high protein foods that are relatively low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates (AKA sugar). It’s easy to assume protein only comes from red meat, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are plenty of foods that contain lean protein–but not all are created equally. If you’re a vegetarian and plan on getting all of your protein from vegetables, you could be missing out on some important amino acids.
“Animal-based sources (meat, eggs, dairy) pack them all in one amount or another, but most plant-based sources only contain a fraction of the nine essential amino acids, meaning that if you get all your plant-based protein from peas, you could end up not getting enough of certain amino acids,” says Rajavel Elango, a nutrition and metabolism researcher with the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.
Start eating these 8 lean proteins this week to get rid of belly fat and you’ll be amazed at the results–but keep on doing planks, too.
There's a reason why so many athletes live off of grilled chicken salads--the protein is great for you! A lean chicken breast (organic, if possible) is rich in protein, low in calories and fat, and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Chicken breast is just about the most versatile food around, making it great for meal prep. Grill plenty of breasts at the start of the week and use them in salads, soups, sandwiches, and other meals throughout the week.
A medium-sized egg only has about 70 calories and 5 grams of fat, but is an incredible source of protein, vitamins, and minerals (like B12 and selenium). Similar to chicken, you can cook eggs in a variety of ways, such as this soft-boiled egg inside of an avocado. It has added potassium, monosaturated fatty acids, and fiber.
Turkey meat has more protein and fewer calories and fat than red meat—and it doesn't contain all of the cholesterol. Additionally, you'll benefit from iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B6 when you choose to eat turkey. Try eating it in a turkey sandwich or whipping up turkey tacos with avocado and tomatoes on top.
“Low in calories and high in value, fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids promoting heart health and stabilizing moods,” says nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN. As a lean and healthy source of protein, they will sustain you for hours without weighing you down. Some of the best fish options for health include wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
Lentils are an amazing plant-based source of protein that are also low in calories. The tiny superfood can help stabilize blood sugar levels and promote a healthy heart and digestive system which all promote fat loss. Use them in soups, stews, salads, or prepare them as a side dish with other veggies.
Cheese doesn't always have a stellar reputation in the health food world. It's true that some types contain high amounts of fat and aren't the greatest choice if you have high cholesterol--but that doesn't mean the food is completely banned. As an alternative protein source to meat, there are many nutritious and delicious cheeses that you can eat--in moderation, of course. Some low-fat cheese options include cottage cheese, cheddar, feta, and goat cheese.
Another incredible source of protein you'll find in the dairy aisle is Greek yogurt (preferably plain and low fat). Not only is Greek yogurt rich in probiotics, which fights inflammation, promotes a healthy gut, and helps you lose belly fat, but it's also rich in protein and low in fat.
Ignore their high-fat content for a minute. Nuts contain a wealth of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, iron, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Seriously, they are a great snack that can be added to anything, from oatmeal to salads. Now, about their high-fat content--while it's true you should not overdo it when it comes to nuts, keep in mind that they are low in saturated fat and high in mono and polyunsaturated fats (otherwise known as the "good kind").
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For more food tips, check out 8 foods you should eat to get rid of belly fat and 5 foods you shouldn't eat after 8 pm for weight loss on SHEFinds.com.
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