Battle of the Bulge

Battle of the Bulge
Ten tummy-targeting foods: love handles, spare tires and beer bellies begone

Be it in a gown, kilt, kimono, sari or suit, practically everyone planning to walk down the aisle would like to lose a little off their middle first. But it’s easy for dieting zeal to cool off right along with the weather. Adding to the challenge, extra pounds accumulate more and more easily in the abdominal region as we age, mainly due to a slowing metabolism. The upside is that many of fall’s seasonal flavors are natural metabolism boosters and fat-fighters, making it easy to keep your abs in summer shape—and even better.

Here’s a countdown featuring 10 of the best belly-battling foods to do some of the work for you:

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Photo: Lotus Head
10. Yogurt

To make up for decreasing sunshine, increase yogurt (preferably with light or reduced-sugar varieties). Rich in metabolism-boosting calcium and protein, choose a brand fortified with vitamin D. This particular nutrient cocktail is vital to life, especially improving muscle, bone and kidney health. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to use calcium and also helps stave off depression, one of the biggest factors behind bulge.

Added bonus: Probiotics in yogurt give the immune system a boost going into allergy, cold and flu season.

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Photo: Maciej Pawlik
9. Whole Wheat

Whole-wheat breads cause gradual changes in blood sugar compared to refined white breads and cut down snack cravings later in the day. With triple the fiber of its refined cousins, it takes longer to digest, creating a long-lasting full feeling. Whole-grain foods are also more nutrient-rich, not having lost bran and germ in the milling process.

fitness-and-health-venison-jerky

Photo: Buffalo Bills

8. Venison

To make losing those love handles easier, venison (deer meat) has fewer calories and less fat and cholesterol than beef, pork or lamb. Take advantage of this kosher, tummy-trimming option to see quick results this fall. Venison jerky is also a great protein-on-the-go option.

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Photo: Nathalie Dulex
7. Spices

To really get the weight-loss ball rolling, splash cinnamon on fruit, toast, cottage cheese, squash, peanut butter and wherever else piques your interest. It steadies blood sugar levels and improves the ratio of good to bad cholesterol. Curry is another popular metabolism-bolstering spice, or, more accurately, a blend of spices.

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Photo: Eden Organic
6. Quinoa

Let’s face it: No matter how healthy it is, oatmeal gets boring! Liven your diet up with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), a grain-like staple of the Andes region that packs a nutritional wallop with high levels of magnesium and iron. It boasts protein levels nearly as high per serving as oatmeal, making it similarly rich in lysine and other essential amino acids lacking in many carbohydrate-rich foods. Related to spinach, its seeds have a nutty taste and texture similar to couscous. Check for it near the rice or foreign-foods section in grocery stores.

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Photo: Dave Di Biase
5. Pumpkin

A familiar member of the squash family, pumpkin is a surprisingly good option for dieters. A source of good fats, the seeds can be roasted for a healthy snack, and pumpkin’s texture makes it a versatile treat. Great-tasting, low fat pumpkin pie recipes are easy to find and take well to sugar substitutes. Plus its smell is said to be an aphrodisiac.

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Photo: Ehsan Namavar
4. Cantaloupes

At its peak in late summer and early fall, an entire cantaloupe only has 30-60 calories. The hydrating melon also stimulates the immune system, is loaded with vitamins C and A, and has a positive effect on blood-sugar levels.

fitness-and-health-avocado-rob-owen-wahl-microstock-photography
Photo: Rob Owen-Walsh, Microstock Photography
3. Avocados

Monounsaturated fats help you shed pounds. Don’t let the name scare you: Fats are vital for overall health. Vitamins A, D, E and K require fat for digestion and absorption. Avocados are one of the best sources and are easy to make into healthy guacamole dips for autumn gatherings or general snacking. Cube them and serve with apples, cheese and whole grain crackers, and you get three of our favorite belly-fat-busting foods in one scrumptious platter.

fitness-and-health-apples-in-basket-ariel-da-silva-parreira
Photo: Ariel da Silva Parreira
2. Apples

The soluble fiber in apples helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by preventing its re-absorption, and also stabilizes blood glucose levels. Eat the skin to get the most benefits, but always wash well and try to choose organic apples. If you’re lucky enough to have an orchard or come across apples in nature, submerging them in salted water should kill any worms that may have beaten you to the punch.

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Photo: Maria Li
1. Almonds

Squirrels can be seen hoarding nuts all fall, and it’s a good idea to follow their lead if you want to lose your paunch. The diamond of the food world, the almond’s small package harbors an exceptionally high nutritional value. Vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, fiber and good fats: It’s all there. Obese study participants who ate three-fourths of a cup of almonds daily as part of a low-calorie diet saw an 18 percent average reduction in their BMI, while another group eating other complex carbs only saw an 11 percent average reduction (Wien, 2003). A perfect snack to keep at work or in your car, sliced almonds also go great with cranberries in seasonal salads.

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