You can’t go wrong with the vegetables. They’re nutrient-dense and versatile, so you’ll never run out of healthy ways to prepare them. And if you’re trying to achieve a weight loss goal or lose belly fat, there are specific vegetables that can help!
However, we also want to emphasize that there is no such thing as a food or drink that can “bust belly fat”. This is simply impossible. Your chances of excess belly fat can increase due to a number of things, including genetics, age, a sedentary lifestyle, a poor-quality diet, or excessive alcohol consumption. Due to these many factors, a more holistic approach is required to lose it.
So when we talk about vegetables that can help you lose belly fat, we include vegetables that have fewer calories and more things like fiber, protein, or other helpful nutrients because these factors can help you lose weight.
To learn more about these vegetables and the nutrients they contain that can help you with your goal of losing belly fat, we spoke with Courtney D’Angelo, MS, RDand author at Go Wellness, as well as Trista Best, MPH, RD, RHPand consultant for Balance One Supplements.
Beets aren’t talked about enough, but these earthy root vegetables are packed with nutrients that can help you manage weight around your stomach area, while perhaps even improving digestion.
For one thing, beets are high in fiber, around 3.8 grams per cup. Eating enough fiber at each meal or snack is known to help prevent bloating, decrease appetite, and increase feelings of fullness. Fiber can also help improve the health of your gut microbiome, which is crucial for healthy weight loss or maintenance.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients. With this rich leaf you will obtain vitamins A, K, C and B6, as well as manganese, copper and potassium. You’ll also get fiber and protein, for only about 43 calories per 100 grams.
When looking at losing belly fat, it helps to remember that there is no single food that can actually burn belly fat. However, replacing sugary and processed foods, which are known to contribute to weight gain, with high-fiber vegetables like kale can decrease calorie intake and increase intake of useful nutrients.
Pass me the spinach, please! This leafy green is packed with nutrients and is great as a salad, stir-fry, or added to your protein shake. According to our dietitians, adding more spinach to your diet can help you lose belly fat.
“Leafy greens are not only super nutritious, but they also help you reduce belly fat,” says D’Angelo. “Spinach is rich in fiber, which absorbs more nutrients and helps digestion. It is also high in vitamin K, which can sometimes help reduce body weight, including visceral fat.”
Red bell peppers are a versatile vegetable with a natural sweetness that goes great in a stir-fry or on top of a burrito bowl. They are also full of nutrients that can help you with your weight goals.
“Peppers are ideal vegetables to add to a weight loss diet,” says Best. “They are low in calories and high in nutrients, while helping to create a feeling of fullness after meals. This combination can help prevent overeating for the rest of the day. Their fiber and capsaicin content also give red bell peppers their weight loss benefits.”
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can find, which is why our two dietitians swear by this green vegetable as a food to help manage their weight.
“This cruciferous vegetable is rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body,” says Best. “The main compound is sulforaphane, which works by reducing cytokines and NF-kB in the body. These substances drive the inflammatory process. By reducing inflammation, the body is better able to shed weight and work efficiently in all other areas as well.”
“Broccoli also contains several other nutrients that can promote belly fat loss, such as vitamin C, calcium, and chromium,” says D’Angelo. “The body needs vitamin C to metabolize fat into energy. This vegetable is also a high-carbohydrate food, which has many benefits when it comes to weight loss, such as helping you feel full, providing energy, preventing weight gain, aiding in digestion, and even helping to trim your waistline.
Finally, carrots are a delicious root vegetable that contain more nutrients than many people realize. Not only that, but chewing on raw carrots can also amazingly help you with your goals!
“This vegetable is unique in its ability to help reduce belly fat in that it increases the body’s metabolism,” says Best. “The thermogenic effect of food (TEF) is the rate of calories that a food causes the body to burn while digesting it. Because carrots are hard in texture, they have a high TEF and therefore cause the body to burn more calories just by eating them.”
An original version of this article was published on April 6, 2022. It has been updated with two additional copies to better explain the link between eating vegetables and losing belly fat.