Eat kimchi – and five easy ways to reduce belly fat (and that doesn’t include exercise)

Faddy diets often claim to target belly fat, also known as visceral fat, but no diet can guarantee weight loss in a specific area – Getty

Even if you’ve never had a spare tire, the hormonal and metabolic changes that come with middle age can lead to a bulge around the middle.

No diet can guarantee weight loss in a specific area, but some foods can reduce your risk of developing belly fat or dangerous visceral fat. One such food is kimchi, made from fermented cabbage.

A major new study shows that eating up to three servings of kimchi a day can reduce the risk of developing fat around your waist. Researchers from Chung Ang University in South Korea found that men who ate kimchi several times a day were less likely to be overweight or have belly fat, the riskiest type of fat most often linked to diabetes.

But how can kimchi help reduce our risk of developing a belly?

Kimchi contains probiotics that are known to boost the good bacteria in our gut and there is a growing consensus that they may also play a role in weight management.

The Korean study is not the first to find a positive correlation between the presence of probiotics and weight management.

There is a growing consensus that probiotics from the Lactobacillus family – whose best food sources include live yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and tempeh – can aid weight loss, including the loss of belly fat.

If the thought of kimchi for breakfast is a step too far, eating more yogurt is a good start, but choose good quality Greek strained yogurt that contains no other added ingredients, just milk and live cultures. You can eat it with berries and granola for breakfast, instead of mayonnaise in egg or tuna sandwich spreads, or for something else, make this healthy potato salad:

  • Boil 500 g mini potatoes in their skins until tender (about 10 minutes), drain and place in cold water.

  • Mix 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, a dash of lemon juice, 2 chopped spring onions and season with salt and pepper.

  • Drain the potatoes, halve them and place them in a bowl.

  • Add the yogurt mixture and stir well to coat completely.

  • If you have some chives left, you can chop off some before serving.

*Recipe extracted from Boost your diet: ten simple ways to get the most out of your food by Sam Rice

But fermented foods aren’t the only dietary strategy that can help prevent the dreaded midlife spread. Here are five other ways to help banish belly fat.

A large number of studies have linked sugar consumption to obesity, particularly increased abdominal fat. Address this by radically reducing your intake of free sugar. Free in this context means sugar that is added to food rather than occurring naturally. The obvious culprits are sugary drinks, cereals, cakes, cookies and most processed foods. This does not mean that you should not eat sugar at all.

The intrinsic sugar in whole fruit is fine because it’s packed with fiber and other nutrients that slow digestion, preventing excess blood sugar that ends up being stored as fat.

Try this healthy berry crumble for pudding and you won’t miss those free sugars at all.

This is how you make it:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. For the crumble topping, melt 50 g coconut oil in a small pan over low heat

  • Remove from the heat and add 75 g oats, 30 g almond shavings, 30 g sunflower seeds, 70 g whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 4 finely chopped pitted dates.

  • Place 500g frozen mixed berries in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and top with the oat topping

  • Bake for 25 minutes until the fruit is sticky and bubbly and the topping has crisped up

An independent study published in the peer-reviewed journal BioMed Central found that high-quality protein intake is inversely related to belly fat. Quality protein means foods high in the nine essential amino acids (EAAs) that our bodies need to stay healthy.

The best sources are whole eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, high-quality lean meats and dairy products. It’s easy to increase our intake of animal protein sources, but there are some plant foods that are particularly good because they contain all nine EAAs, such as soy, quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds and hemp seeds.

Try this tasty chia porridge for breakfast:

  • Place 250 ml milk, 3 tablespoons chia seeds, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a small saucepan and bring to the boil

  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until mixture has thickened to a porridge-like consistency, stirring occasionally

  • Top with sliced ​​banana

The benefits of dietary fiber are well documented: better gut health, improved appetite and blood sugar regulation, and lower cholesterol levels, to name a few.

Current NHS guidelines recommend eating 30 grams of fiber a day, but the average adult in Britain eats just 19 grams.

You can increase your fiber intake by switching to whole-grain versions of bread, pasta and rice. Other quick tips include peeling potatoes, eating nuts (keep in mind that a serving is only 30 grams as they are high in calories) and nut butters, eating lots of beans and lentils – and yes, good old beans ( whole wheat) toast counts – and don’t forget the basic product from the refrigerator: hummus. Combine with whole wheat crackers for a tasty fiber-rich snack.

A cup of green tea every day is a simple way to help protect against belly fat. In a 2022 randomized controlled trial, overweight participants who received a daily dose of green tea for 12 weeks saw a significant reduction in visceral fat. Scientists believe it is the antioxidant catechins in the tea that increase fat metabolism, leading to weight loss.

If you’re not a tea drinker, another way to reap the benefits is to use matcha – a Japanese version of green tea with the highest concentration of catechins – to make this “super green” porridge:

  • Place 50g of oats, 2 teaspoons of honey, a pinch of salt and 250ml of water in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of matcha powder in a little boiling water and stir well. Add to the porridge together with a small, mashed banana.

  • Serve with a few blueberries sprinkled on top.

Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids have a positive impact on brain health, but recent research has found that it can also help target visceral fat. It’s not entirely clear why, but there is some evidence that eating more omega-3-rich foods, such as fatty fish, increases our metabolism. Another theory is that a diet rich in omega-3 helps regulate hunger and appetite. Either way, increasing omega-3 in your diet is a good idea if you want to save the spare tire.

An easy way to eat more oily fish is with an old-fashioned can of sardines. This is how you make a tasty sardine toast topper:

  • Puree a can of sardines in olive oil (drain most of the oil first) with ½ small red onion, finely chopped, a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, 6 black olives, pitted and finely chopped, juice of ½ a lemon and a dash of Tabasco or sambal

  • Mix well and serve on whole wheat toast.


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