1. Almonds. Not only are almonds packed full of skin-boosting vitamin E and protein, but their high fibre content stops you feeling hungry. In 2007, researchers at Purdue University also reported that – despite the fact they are relatively high in calories – almonds themselves do not contribute to belly fat. Swap out your usual mid-morning snack for a handful and see if it makes a difference.
2. Leafy Greens. The quickest way to flatten a stubborn stomach? Include a portion of leafy green vegetables at every meal. Kale, spinach and romaine lettuce are all extremely low in calories, full of fibre and offer several vital vitamins and minerals that help to ease water retention without causing the bloating and discomfort that some other vegetables might do.
3. Oats. Oats are filling, which makes it hard to believe that they can help you lose weight. But eating a portion in the morning for breakfast as part of a low-calorie diet is a great way to provide your body with slow-release, natural energy throughout the day, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer and can even lower your cholesterol.
4. Olive Oil. Mad but true – fat CAN help you to lose weight. Poly unsaturated fats like those found in olive oil can stave off hunger pains, while olive oil itself contains a naturally-occurring chemical called oleic acid, which aids the breakdown of excess fats in the body.
5. Beans. Each tiny bean is packed with nutrients, including protein and fibre, while remaining low in calories and full of slow-release energy. This means you’ll feel fuller, while the high protein content will help firm up your muscles and keep you toned. Swap out burgers for burritos, and beef chilli for bean chilli.
6. Peppermint. Peppermint is known for its potent healing and calming digestive properties, so if you’re looking to slim down your stomach, it makes sense to start including it in your diet. The easiest way to do this is to drink it in tea form, so pick up a box from your local supermarket (organic if possible) and try drinking three cups a day. Great for clearing the skin, too!
7. Green Tea. Addicted to your builder’s brew? It may be time for a change. Swopping to green tea has been found to assist the body in flushing out excess fluids, helping to calm bloating around the stomach caused by water retention. What’s more, it has been found to speed up the metabolism, which can aid the burning of excess fat in the body.
8. Cranberry Juice. As well as high levels of antioxidizing vitamin C, cranberry juice has fantastic diuretic properties. This means that it encourages the body to get rid of excess fluids through excretion (going to the toilet). Swap out your morning OJ for a glass of sugar-free, all natural cranberry instead.
9. Asparagus. Asparagus is often considered a luxury vegetable, and not without good reason. Each spear is packed full of vitamins A, B-complex, C and E, as well as containing high levels of skin-clearing zinc and potassium, which assists the removal of excess fluids from the body. Asparagus has long been used to treat inflammations such as arthritis and rheumatism too.
10. Tomatoes. Delicious, full of antioxidants, AND they help you to lose weight? Tomatoes are definitely among our favourite fat-fighting foods. Tomatoes have been found to reduce inflammation and water retention in the body, as well as reversing leptin resistance. Leptin is a type of protein which helps to regulate metabolic rate and appetite, so our bodies rely on it to shed those extra pounds.
11. Garlic. It might make your breath smell a bit, but each clove of garlic is packed not just with toxin-battling antioxidants, but also a naturally occurring chemical called allicin. When digested, allicin reacts with the blood to create a product capable of killing off many harmful bacteria and viruses that your body may be harbouring – including in the digestive tract. A healthy gut it essential for achieve a flatter tummy – try adding a few raw cloves to your food just before serving to get the most out of it.
12. Chilli. Adding chilli to your food is a great way to boost your metabolism, which helps you to burn fat faster. A single chilli pepper also contains a full day’s supply of beta carotene (which is great for maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails) and twice your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C – an essential antioxidant that helps to battle toxins and foreign bodies in the blood stream.
13. Bananas. Contrary to what some people believe, bananas contribute to weight loss NOT gain. Eating a banana is not just a great way to provide your body with skin-healing zinc, brain-powering slow release energy and filling fibre, but can also help you to relieve water retention thanks to the high levels of potassium they contain.
14. Melon. Half a melon contains almost twice as much potassium as bananas do, making it a low-calorie, high-antioxidant alternative that can aid the removal of excess fluids around the body. Cantaloupe melon also offers twice the recommended dose of vitamin C too, which will help to support your immune system and keep your skin in tip-top condition.
15. Cucumber. Believe it or not, cucumbers are actually a member of the melon family, and therefore have very similar slimming properties. It is a natural diuretic, which means consuming it eases water retention and bloating in the body. Why not make a slimming watercress, bean, mint and cucumber salad for a powerful tummy flattening lunch?
16. Fennel. This liquorice-flavoured root vegetable is packed with vitamin C, potassium, and manganese and has long been used as a remedy for digestive problems. Thanks in part to its high dietary fibre content, it promotes healthy digestion, reducing swelling in the body, flushing out toxins and excess fluids. Fennel tea can also help to stave off hunger pangs, so pick up a box from your local health food shop and get slurping. I really love this one from Twinings which will also allow you to tick the Green Tea box.
17. Berries. Tiny but mighty, berries are stuffed full of antioxidants and fibre – just one cup of raspberries contains a whopping 6g. Plus, they’re low in calories too. Add a handful into a healthy smoothy or sprinkle over your breakfast cereal.
18. Cinnamon. A sprinkling of cinnamon could be all that’s standing in the way of you and those washboard abs. The sweet spice helps to regulate soaring blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production. There is some evidence to suggest that cinnamon extract also makes fat cells more responsive to insulin, which means they’re much less likely to hold on to excess energy, and far more likely to burn existing fat stores instead.
19. Ginger. Ever wondered why your sushi comes with a side of ginger? The spicy root has been used for centuries as a digestive aid, because it possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea and antioxidant properties. It also contains an enzyme called zingibain, which helps digest proteins.
20. Brown Rice. If you’re looking to flatten and tone your belly, you should aim to eat a complex carbohydrate that is rich in muscle-strengthening protein and vitamins, like brown rice. It’s better than white rice, because it contains a rich supply of energizing B vitamins, which could help you burn calories faster.
21. Peanuts. Peanuts get a bad rep in the diet world, but eating a small handful as a snack in between meals could stop you from overeating, and give you the protein you need to carve a lean, flat stomach. Peanuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and fibre, as well as skin-conditioning vitamin E.
22. Avocado. There is a reason why guacamole exists beyond it being darn tasty! Avocado is often paired with spicy food because it soothes the digestive system after it is irritated by the heat. Avocado also contains potassium, which helps to regulate fluid balance, as well as magnesium, which prevents constipation.
23. Quinoa. Did you know that, when she wants to get into shape for a shoot fast, Kate Moss eats quinoa instead of cereal for breakfast? That’s because it’s what is known as a complete grain, combining protein, fibre, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates all in one. Eating grains like quinoa will help to boost your metabolism, and burn belly fat faster.
24. Sunflower Seeds. Sunflower seeds contain a bountiful supply of dietary fibre, which could fill you up for longer and keep sweet cravings at bay, while easing digestion at the same time. They are packed full of antioxidant vitamin E, too, which is essential for skin health, as well as protein and complex carbs.
25. Pistachios. If you’re looking to trim down your belly, then pistachios, together with almonds, are one of the best nuts you can snack on. They are lower in calories and fat than most other nuts, while remaining high in protein, fibre and other essential vitamins and minerals.
26. Pineapple. Pineapple boasts a digestive enzyme that helps to ease bloating, settle your stomach, and even relieve heartburn. It’s high in natural fruit sugars, or fructose, which could stave off sweet cravings.
27. Black Pepper. A simple way to prevent bloating and discomfort after eating? Add a bit of freshly ground pepper to your meal. It’s a natural digestive aid, and helps to relieve bloating at the same time.
28. Celery. While it is a myth that celery is a minus-calorie food (that it takes more calories to digest it than it does to eat it) it is still a detoxing stem that can reduce water retention and help to purge your body of toxins.
29. Red Peppers. Red peppers, like their hotter chilli cousins, are thought to have a soothing effect on digestion, while giving the metabolism a kick in the process. As a sweet vegetable packed with vitamin C, too, they can also fend off sweet cravings when they strike – the perfect weapon against belly fat.
30. Pears. The high pectin (natural fruit sugars) content contained within pears makes the juicy fruit a strong diuretic and good at fending off unwanted water retention. They are high in fibre, too, which encourages a feeling of fullness and healthy digestion.
31. Lemons. A well-known detoxifier, it’s a great natural weapon against water retention and could help you achieve a flatter stomach.
32. Peaches. Peaches are great for restoring balance to an upset or bloated stomach, as they have both laxative and diuretic properties due to their alkaline nature.
33. Liquorice. It’s better for your flat stomach drunk in tea form than eaten as sugary confectionary, but the digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits of liquorice are not to be sniffed at.