4. Eat healthy fats.
If you are going low-carb, eating a lot of fat is absolutely imperative. Your body needs fatty acids that can be converted into ketone bodies that provide energy in the absence of glucose.
But even if you prefer a less extreme diet, adding good sources of healthy fat to your everyday meals is still essential. The presence of healthy fats in your system aids the endocrine system and helps regulate the production of certain hormones needed for optimal functioning.
One example of a healthy source of fat is coconut oil. For a very long time, coconut oil and other sources of saturated fat have been considered the devil, but new research shows that is entirely not true.
Unlike other sources of harmful fat, which have long and short-chain triglycerides, coconut oil is processed differently by the body because it has medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). In fact, studies have shown that the MCTs in coconut oil are mostly harmless to people with cardiovascular problems or diabetes.
From a fat loss perspective, the MCTs in coconut oil help you burn more fat off by boosting your metabolism and increasing the number of calories you burn. One study shows that daily supplementation with MCT can help you burn an extra 120 calories every day. Now, that might not seem much, but it will amount to a significant number of calories burned in the long run.
In fact, it’s likely you’ll see significant results in as little as one week. Women who took two tablespoons of coconut oil every day saw as much as a 1-inch reduction in waist circumference after supplementing with coconut oil. And unlike the soybean oil control group, they did not experience a rise in total cholesterol levels.
Keep in mind, the women also ate a low-calorie diet and walked at least 50 minutes every day. This goes to show that losing belly fat is not caused by just one thing alone. Rather, it is the result of a variety of factors coming together in the best possible way to lead to a flatter tummy.
Another source of good fats are fatty fish, such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, and anchovies. These fishes are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have both been shown to decrease abdominal fat and liver fat, the two most dangerous kinds of fat you can find on the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also extremely helpful in maintaining overall physical and mental health. EPA, for instance, combats inflammation and is a promising treatment for people suffering from depression. DHA is also good for the brain, as much of the stuff we call gray matter is made from DHA.
Another omega-3 fatty acid is ALA, which is more common in plant-based sources, such as chia, flax seeds, and walnuts. However, ALA is not readily available for absorption by the human body and must still be converted into EPA or DHA for you to benefit from it.
5. Stay away from trans-fat.
While we’re on the subject of fats, it’s important to note that not all fat sources provide good fats. There are types of fat that can be harmful to your health. We’re talking about synthetic trans-fat, the kind you see being used in many fast-food restaurant chains.
Synthetic trans-fat is different from ruminant trans-fat. The latter is naturally found in minimal amounts in sources such as meat and dairy and can, in fact, actually provide health benefits.
One type of ruminant trans-fat that is actually good for you is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA supplementation is turning out to be a hot trend in the fitness community, as research shows promising benefits. These include better insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides, increased metabolism, and more muscle growth.
Synthetic trans-fats, on the other hand, do not offer a smidgen of goodness. The most common form of this fat is hydrogenated oil, which is typically a vegetable oil processed so much it practically becomes a different product altogether.
Hydrogenated oils are typically made by flushing hydrogen through the oil in the presence of some metal, usually nickel, in powder form. This transforms the entire chemical makeup of the oil to achieve commercial ends, such as changing its appearance or lengthening its life.
Most pre-packaged goods use hydrogenated oil, which is one among many reasons you should minimize your use of eating pre-packaged food. Many margarines and spreads are also filled to the brim with trans-fat, so make sure to read the label.
While there are not a lot of human studies detailing the effect of trans-fat on belly circumference, animal studies confirm what we have intuitively known for a long time. A diet filled with trans-fat leads to 33% more abdominal fat in monkeys compared to a control group that were fed with coconut oil.
The research shows trans-fat is also associated with insulin resistance and elevated fructosamine, one of the markers of high-blood sugar.