Eating more vegetables, beans and fruits can reduce belly fat, research finds.
The reason is that they all contain high levels of soluble fibres.
Soluble fibres form a gel-like substance in the gut and this slows down the speed of digestion, making people feel less hungry.
Soluble fibres can also encourage more diversity in gut bacteria.
People who have a greater variety of ‘good’ bacteria in their gut have a lower risk of belly fat.
To get enough soluble fibre, it is necessary to eat around a cup of beans, two apples and a half cup of pinto beans each day.
That would be enough to ingest 10g of soluble fibre.
Visceral or ‘belly’ fat is particularly bad for health, said Dr Kristen Hairston, the study’s first author:
“We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Our study found that making a few simple changes can have a big health impact.”
The study included 1,114 people who were tracked for five years.
Increasing soluble fibre intake lead to decreases in belly fat by 3.7 percent, the results showed.
Doing some moderate exercise increased this figure to 7.4 percent.
Dr Hairston said:
“There is mounting evidence that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat, although we still don’t know how it works.
Although the fiber-obesity relationship has been extensively studied, the relationship between fiber and specific fat deposits has not.
Our study is valuable because it provides specific information on how dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, may affect weight accumulation through abdominal fat deposits.”
Another method by which soluble fibres can influence belly fat is that they form short-chain fatty acids in the stomach.
These decrease the storage of fat in the body and increase the rate at which the body burns fat.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Obesity (Hairston et al., 2011).