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Weight Loss

12 Belly Flattening Foods

12 slimming foods to trim your middle—and protect your health. Try these belly-flattening foods.

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Watching your waistline grow? If you’re stout in the middle, being bikini-ready by summer is the least of your worries. Excess weight around the abdomen can signal chronic inflammation and dangerous visceral fat near organs, and a wider waistline is linked with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, dementia and other diseases. Go from belly fat to belly flat—and protect your health—with these 12 belly flattening foods.

  1. Grapefruit. It’s high in nootkatone, the phytochemical that gives grapefruit its distinct flavor and aroma (even the smell of grapefruit can reduce appetite and stimulate metabolism). Nootkatone promotes the production of chemicals involved in the breakdown of body fat and enhances metabolism, and research links eating grapefruit with overall weight loss and a reduction in abdominal fat.
  2. Coconut oil. Unlike most dietary fats, it’s high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a kind of fat that’s used by the body for immediate energy and less likely to be stored as fat. Plus, they promote fat burning, and replacing other fats with MCTs can lower weight, decrease total body fat and significantly reduce abdominal fat.
  3. Berries. Raspberries are loaded with fiber, linked with a lower risk of abdominal fat; research suggests increasing fiber to 30 grams a day helps shed pounds and reduce belly fat (so the 8 grams in a cup of raspberries offers more than a quarter of what you need). Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are also rich in antioxidants, including resveratrol, that burn excess fat. And some studies show goji berries and blueberries also trim weight and can significantly reduce waist circumference.
  4. Whey protein. It’s a concentrated source of protein, shown to enhance metabolism, impact levels of hormones that blunt appetite and reduce caloric intake, and promote weight loss. A higher consumption of quality protein is associated with less abdominal fat and a significantly lower risk of abdominal weight gain. And studies suggest whey protein in particular encourages fat loss, preserves lean muscle tissue and supports abdominal fat loss.
  5. Matcha. This green tea powder is high in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that enhances fat breakdown and reduces belly fat. The caffeine in green tea and matcha also boost metabolism and encourage the body to burn fat. And green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that relaxes the nervous system and eases stress—linked with increased abdominal fat. White tea has similar effects, and may also inhibit the formation of new fat cells so definitely add both white tea and especially matcha to your shopping list of belly flattening foods.
  6. Olives. Olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fats that balance blood sugar, decrease inflammation, and prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat. And extra-virgin olive oil contains an antioxidant called oleocanthal that lowers inflammation and reduces abdominal fat. Avocados are also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, and they’re rich in fiber and antioxidants.
  7. Yogurt. It’s high in belly-trimming protein, and eating yogurt is associated with lower weight, less body fat and a smaller waist circumference. Yogurt is also rich in probiotics that reduce inflammation and improve the balance of gut bacteria, and research suggests a healthy microbiome may play a bigger role in preventing abdominal fat than diet alone.
  8. Cauliflower. Like broccoli, cabbage, kale and other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is high in compounds that block the formation of fat cells and promote weight loss. Crucifers also modulate excess, harmful forms of estrogen that encourage the body to store fat in the belly. And they’re packed with tummy-trimming fiber.
  9. Lentils. Beans, lentils and other legumes are loaded with fiber, linked with a reduction in calories consumed, overall weight loss and reduced abdominal fat. The slow-digesting fiber in lentils, called “resistant starch,” also prompts the release of appetite-blunting compounds in the body, and consuming resistant starch is associated with positive changes in gut bacteria and reduced abdominal fat. (Plus, fiber flattens your belly by promoting regular bowel movements.)
  10. Wild salmon. It’s high in omega-3 fats that fight inflammation and increase levels of hormones that enhance metabolism, promote fat burning and protect against abdominal fat. Omega-3 fats also support healthy gut microbiota, and the DHA omega-3 fats in salmon are especially effective at promoting the breakdown of fats and suppressing fat storage.
  11. Bell peppers. Red and yellow bell peppers are good sources of belly-trimming fiber, plus antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect against excess abdominal fat. They’re also rich in vitamin C; higher blood levels of vitamin C have been inversely associated with body fat and waist circumference, and people with depleted levels may be more resistant to fat loss.
  12. Grass-fed beef. Here’s a surprising one on the list of belly flattening foods: Beef. It’s packed with protein, and grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3s that promote fat burning and lessen abdominal fat. Grass-fed and pastured meat is also higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that supports weight loss and helps trim abdominal fat. And red meat is especially rich in leucine, an amino acid that encourages lean muscle, burns fat.

Try one of these weight-loss meal plans for even more belly flattening foods: