Dark chocolate is packed with MUFAs—or monounsaturated fatty acids—that help your body burn belly fat. Dark chocolate is also filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries. It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, according to a study from Denmark. Try a chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. Get your fix in these 10 Guilt-Free Chocolate Desserts.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Marinate a pound of pork tenderloin in ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger, 3 minced garlic cloves, a tablespoon of red pepper flakes, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of canola oil. Allow to sit in the fridge, chilled for 30 minutes up to 2 hours, and then allow to come to room temperature.
Want a flatter stomach? Look in your glass—milk and soda are two major causes of tummy inflation. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, which means that your glass of warm milk before bed may be the reason you wake up with too-tight pajamas. These are signs you might be lactose intolerant. And when it comes to soda, both regular and diet are belly busters both from the sweeteners used and the carbonation. Try eliminating these from your diet and see if it helps flatten your tummy.
Whereas many beverages can increase your waistline (see above), there is one that is guaranteed to trim your tummy: water. Drinking plain ol' H2O works because staying fully hydrated tells your body it's okay to release any extra water it's retaining, decreasing the accompanying bloat. Plus, drinking water has been proven to reduce cravings for sweets, lower your appetite, and help you feel satiated faster.
Replace your candy and cookie jars on the kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruits and containers of nuts. Stock your fridge with chopped veggies and hummus for a quick and healthy snack. This way they’re more readily available, and you have no excuses to grab a bag of chips, right? Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, the dietitian to the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, likes having washed and prepared cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where you can see them. To discover more healthy foods that will help you lose weight, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body.
There’s no sugar-coating it: Sugar wreaks havoc on the body. Consuming too much of the white stuff can lead to obesity, which often causes other health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Many breakfast cereals pack more sugar into one bowl than you’ll find in a Boston Kreme donut! To make matters worse, many popular varieties like Frosted Flakes and Fruity Pebbles are laced with Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) or BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole). These ingredients are banned in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Japan and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic. Speaking of scary ingredients, check out these 40 Most Horrifying Things Found in Food.
Peterson is a fan of Chaturanga Dandasana—a.k.a. yoga pushup—for the extension and isometric contraction it provides: From plank, bend your elbows and begin lowering toward the floor, with every part of your body an equal distance from the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body, abs engaged (not clenched), back straight, thigh muscles active, and glutes soft. Start by holding the pose above the floor for 5 full, complete breaths, and work up to 10. Push back up to plank in 4 counts. Do 4 reps every other day.
A note on low carb diets: With low carb diets (I see you Paleo), a lot of junk carbs (sweets, breads, alcohol) are also restricted in the process. This is good, and often leads to weight loss. Carbohydrates also hold water in the body, so we’ll also see water loss (and subsequent weight loss). All of this is exciting and people think “I’m never touching a carb again!”
While scents of apple pie and snickerdoodle cookies will make your mouth water, others can actually help suppress your appetite. One study in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every two hours lost an average of five pounds a month! Banana, green apple, and vanilla had similar effects. Consider burning a minty candle until you head to bed to fill the room with slimming smells. If you don’t want to bother with blowing out candles before you turn down the covers, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to your pillow.
If you're after a sleeker middle, add dairy to your diet. Research shows that its proteins increase satiety and cause you to eat less. My choice: homemade Parmesan crisps. Preheat oven to 350; line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide 2 cups grated Parmesan into 2-Tbsp. portions. Form each into a small pile and press with the back of a fork. Bake until melted and flat, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with chopped cooked vegetables (I love spinach, squash or eggplant).
IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. IBS symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and bloating—So. Much. Bloating. While the causes aren't all known, it's thought to be linked to lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, hormones, and stress. These natural remedies for IBS can help. Sufferers often find that making changes in these areas eliminates or reduces their IBS (and their stomach circumference!).
Out-of-whack hormones have all kinds of uncomfortable side effects and belly bloat is one of them. There’s a reason that bloating is one of the primary complaints women have during menopause! While you can’t turn back the clock and reclaim the hormone profile of your 20’s, you can make sure you’re within the normal range—something your doctor can check for you. In the meantime, eating right and exercising are natural ways to balance your hormones.