13 of the Best Foods for a Flat Belly

For a slimmer tummy, fill your plate with foods that speed up metabolism and reduce bloat.

When you're trying to slim down your stomach, core exercises and ab workouts go a long way, but what you eat also plays a huge role.

In addition to drinking enough water; eating fresh produce and healthy fats; and avoiding or reducing your intake of things like alcohol, soda, and sugar, certain foods are particularly good for shrinking your gut.

"If you want your abs to feel flatter, choose foods that will help decrease bloating in your stomach, such as water-packed fruits and veggies," said Keri Gans, RD, a New York City-based nutrition consultant and author of The Small Change Diet.

These 13 foods will help keep your waistline slim by reducing bloat, boosting metabolism, and giving your body important nutrients that encourage weight loss.

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Cucumbers

Thanks to the flavonoid antioxidant quercetin (which reduces swelling) and a high water content of 96%, cucumbers "can definitely help prevent bloating," Gans said. This crunchy veggie is also extremely versatile: eat it in a chopped salad, sprinkle on top of yogurt, or munch on cucumber slices with homemade hummus.

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Lentils

As a member of the super-nutritious pulse family, lentils—along with other seeds that grow within pods like chickpeas, white beans, and dried peas—are packed with protein and fiber, which increase satiety. They're also a good source of iron; this is important because studies have shown that being deficient in the mineral could slow down your metabolism.

"Add lentils to salads or use in place of whole grains like brown rice," said Cynthia Sass, RD, Health's contributing nutrition editor. "They also make a great 'bed' for a serving of lean protein, along with a generous portion of veggies."

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Bananas

If you're craving an afternoon snack, a banana may be your best bet. In addition to potassium, bananas are packed with resistant starch, a healthy carbohydrate that your body digests slowly, which keeps you full for longer. Resistant starch also encourages your liver to switch to fat-burning mode, giving your metabolism a boost.

Here's another benefit of this fruit: "Bananas may help prevent water retention in our bodies by regulating sodium levels," Gans explained, "decreasing the risk for bloating."

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Fennel

This perennial herb offers some serious benefits for your belly. "For centuries, fennel has been used to improve digestion, relieve GI spasms, and reduce bloat," said Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition in New York City.

If you want to try the herb, you can eat fennel raw or cooked (try sprinkling it on pizza or making tomato-fennel soup).

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Papaya

There are lots of reasons to love this brightly colored tropical fruit, which is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E, and folate. Papayas also contain an enzyme called papain, which helps your GI system break down difficult-to-digest foods—in turn preventing inflammation and belly bloat.

In addition to eating papaya whole and fresh, "it's wonderful in a smoothie, in salads, or thrown on the grill with a drop of olive oil," Gans said.

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Whole Grains

Gluten-free diets may be popular, but carbs are fine to keep in your diet (unless you've been diagnosed with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance). In fact, whole grain carbohydrates actually help you stay slim.

Whole grains are a great source of filling fiber, which aids digestion and increases satiety. Researchers noted in a May 2019 Nutrients study that the risk for weight gain or instances of being overweight or obese was lower with higher consumption of whole grains.

"Whole grains help better regulate blood sugar and insulin levels compared to refined grains," Sass explained. Sass also recommended starting your day with oatmeal, snacking on plain popcorn, and choosing quinoa or brown rice over white rice.

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Asparagus

Asparagus is full of antioxidants, but it can also promote a slim stomach. This super-healthy spring veggie is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which your body digests slowly—keeping you full for longer in between meals.

As a natural diuretic, "asparagus facilitates the removal of water and waste to decrease discomfort and bloat," Middleberg explained. Middleberg added that asparagus also contains prebiotics, which "act as fuel for healthy bacteria in your gut."

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Yogurt

Like asparagus, yogurt is great for your gut: It contains beneficial probiotics, which help balance microflora and prevent bloating. Eating yogurt may also increase feelings of fullness, thanks to 17 grams of protein per serving.

"Try adding it to your morning smoothie, use it in your favorite dip recipe, or enjoy with berries for an afternoon snack," Gans said.

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Ginger

If you've ever sipped on a glass of ginger ale while sick, you know the drink can do wonders to calm an upset stomach. It turns out the root is also good for keeping your belly slim.

Thanks to compounds that help move food through your GI tract, "it has been used for centuries as a natural remedy to treat bloating," Gans explained. Specifically, ginger can also reduce the instances of gas or constipation, per John Hopkins Medicine.

"An easy way to include it in your diet is to make a ginger tea with ½ teaspoon of ground or freshly grated ginger and one cup of hot water," Gans added.

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Peppermint Tea and Chamomile

According to a September 2019 Plant Foods for Human Nutrition study, herbal teas have been associated with providing health benefits for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Two such teas that may help foster weight loss are peppermint and chamomile teas.

Drinking either tea can be helpful for weight loss in different ways. "Peppermint tea can help reduce bloating, which can make your stomach look flatter," Sass said. "And chamomile may help improve sleep—and too little sleep has been linked to an increase in belly fat."

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Avocado

Technically a fruit, avocado contains 2 grams of filling fiber and 4 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which may help keep the pounds off.

And in addition to keeping your stomach slim, avocados may benefit the gut, too: "Healthy fats like avocados are vital to gut health, as they coat the stomach and allow for ease of digestion," Middleberg explained. "They also help the body increase its absorption of other nutrients and antioxidants."

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Dark Chocolate

If you have a sweet tooth, try dark chocolate. "Good quality dark chocolate (anything above 65% cacao) is actually very good for you," Middleberg explained.

Like avocados, dark chocolate contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help speed up metabolism. Additionally, an April 2018 review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that eating at least 30 grams or more of dark chocolate daily between four to eight weeks was associated with lower body weight and BMI.

Additionally, Middleberg recommended having a piece "the size of a dental floss container" if you want to indulge in this type of chocolate.

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Almonds

For a guilt-free snack, reach for a handful of almonds.

A September 2019 Nutrients study investigated the relationship between almonds and appetite control. The researchers found that participants who ate almonds were less hungry and had a lower desire to eat compared to those who ate crackers or drank water.

As with dark chocolate and avocados, the nut contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help your body burn fat and fight hunger.

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