Even if you’ve spent the last few months dieting yourself into firm form, a few poor food choices each week can quickly add up.
Don’t believe us? Consider the caloric damage of typical summer activities. Backyard BBQs provide pounds of juicy burgers topped with high-calorie condiments; ice cream dates offer options of double and triple scoops, smothered in sugary, fattening toppings; and seasonal drink choices (the kind you add umbrellas to and sip from faux-coconuts) give you the option to wash it all down with hundreds of extra calories. Not exactly flat-belly fare.
Check out our list of six essential summer foods to better your chances of keeping those abs flat throughout this skin-baring season:
Per cup: 0 calories, 0 g fat
Catechins, the powerful antioxidants found in green tea, are known to increase metabolism. A study by Japanese researchers found that participants who consumed 690 milligrams of catechins from green tea daily had significantly lower body mass indexes and smaller waist measurements than those in a control group. It’s safe to say that green tea is the one of the best beverages for your health.
Per avocado: 322 calories, 29 g fat (4 g saturated, 20 g monounsaturated), 13 g fiber, 4 g protein
This Mediterranean diet staple is teeming with healthy monounsaturated fats (also found in olive oil), which has been linked to lowered LDL cholesterol levels and to weight loss. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the healthy-fat Mediterranean diet was more effective than a diet that avoided fats altogether. So go ahead and indulge in an avocado!
Per 1/4 cup : 170 calories, 2.5 g fat, 7 g protein and 3 g fiber
Anytime you choose a whole grain product over one made from white flour, you wage war against belly fat. Penn State researchers found that dieters who ate whole grains lost twice as much belly fat as those who stuck to white flour products that contained the same number of calories. What’s more, quinoa contains twice the protein as regular cereal grains, fewer carbohydrates, and even a handful of healthy fats.
You can start your day off with a cup of cooked quinoa combined with a 1/2 cup of non-fat milk and 1/2 cup of blueberries. Microwave for 60 seconds, and you have a delicious, and slimming alternative to your traditional oatmeal.
Per cup: 174 calories, 2 g fat, 14 g protein, 3 g fiber
Think of kefir as a drinkable yogurt, or an extra-thick, protein-packed smoothie. This delicious dairy product is a belly-blasting essential, as the probiotics in kefir may also speed weight loss. British scientists found that these active organism boosted the breakdown of fat molecules in mice, preventing the rodents from gaining weight. The researchers still need to prove the finding in humans, but there’s no danger in consuming products high in probiotics. We like Lifeway Lowfat Blueberries Kefir, which contains L. casei, the same probiotic used in the study.
Per 1 large scrambled egg: 102 calories, 7 g fat (2g saturated), 7 g protein
A British study found that people who increased the percentage of protein-based calories in their diet burned 71 more calories a day. (That’s 7.4 pounds a year!) Jump-start your metabolism as soon as you wake up with a protein-rich breakfast of scrambled eggs.
A grapefruit a day in addition to your regular meals can speed weight loss. The fruit’s acidity slows digestion, meaning it takes longer to move through your system, and you’ll end up feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer. And the vitamin C in grapefruit works to lower cholesterol and decrease risk of stroke, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Give these foods a try this summer and let us know how you like them on Facebook and Twitter: @LucilleRoberts