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Melt fat faster than ever with our 13 flat-belly foods
By Eric Velazquez

When it comes to getting lean, a dedicated weight training program, regular cardio and the right supplements will take you a long way. But when it comes to the best physiques around - the ones that are lean, striated and perfectly proportioned - diet is always the diff erence maker. What, when and how much you eat has the most impact on your body. Hard training and cardio will eventually eat away at muscle with a bad diet, giving you the dreaded but all too common “skinny fat” look. Supplements will provide a boost, sure, but without the right nutritional elements in place to begin with, you’re still going to be facing some dietary deficits.

To keep that ripped, hard look within reach, you should work to consume a balanced diet that fully supports your training. Luckily, there are certain foods that give you an added edge - nutritional gems that can support metabolism, spike energy levels, stabilise blood sugar and more. You may already be eating some of these foods, but if you’re not, it’s time to head to the grocery store. Burning through more calories every day - even while you’re sitting on your can - may be as easy as being more choosy about what gets thrown into your cart. Here are 13 UltraFITNESS approved, metabolism-friendly foods.

You know what they say about anapple a day, right? Well, what if we told you that it doesn’t only keep the doctor away but that it boosts performance? A key antioxidant in apples called quercetin is helping this tasty fruit gain a reputation as a perfect pre-workout fuel. “Quercetin is an antioxidant that fights inflammation and may also play a role in improved endurance during exercise,” says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC a nutrition consultant for Dana White Nutrition and Healthyeats. com. “Apples also contain fibre (one has almost 20 per cent of your daily needs) to slow digestion and keep you feeling fuller longer.”
When it comes to getting (or staying) lean, your rate of digestion is incredibly important. Adequate levels of protein tend to slow digestion, meaning that complete sources of this muscle-building food are a no-brainer for your diet. Eggs, says White, are a perfect choice for your diet to help rebuild muscles after training. At breakfast, they can provide longer-lasting satiety, which can prevent errant snacking throughout the morning.

“There is just as much protein in the yolk as there is in the white, so eat both,” White adds.
Looking for something to complement that omelette? Reach for a cup of joe. The caffeine in coffee provides boosts in alertness and endurance by increasing your heart rate. Happily, caffeine also blunts pain, potentially helping you to exercise longer. A tall coffee from Starbucks packs a healthy 260-milligram dose of caffeine, putting it right in range for the recommended 200 to 400 milligram dose that you should take once or twice per day.

“The Journal of Sports Medicine recently discovered that consuming caffeine before a workout also decreases perceived exertion and pain perception during exercise, which will ensure you get more out of your workout,” says James Buttler, aregistered dietitian in Reno, Nevada.
Sometimes, the best metabolic foods aren’t given their due because they don’t possess the same “sexy” perks as others - they don’t have direct ties to fatburning. Almonds are one such is healthy nut helps you more fat by protecting your body. “Almonds are high in vitamin E, a cell-protecting antioxidant,” says White. “Thirty grams (about 22 almonds) has nearly 40 per cent of your daily needs.” Almonds are tasty, so it’s very easy to go overboard, but try to keep to the 30g serving each day because they are high in fat - and that means a greater accumulation of total calories.
Our first two items here are probably giving you pause, since fruits are generally considered off-limits for those trying to get super-lean. But bananas, like apples, have benefits that may outweigh their drawbacks. “Bananas contain fast- and slow-digesting carbs, making them great before or after a workout,” says White. “The quicker digesting carbs are ideal for energy during your workouts, and potassium is crucial for muscle contraction. Afterwards, carbs help with recovery, as does potassium.”
Yoghurt, which is a perfect snack for gym rats, is rich in zinc, which supports dozens of chemicalreactions in the body. One of those functions happens to be the key to lasting changes in body composition. “Zinc is involved in protein metabolism,” says White. Augmenting your protein metabolism any way you can means more muscle in the long run, and muscle is pure metabolic gold because it consumes calories. Zinc’s effect on protein synthesis also makes yoghurt a solid postworkout choice. Each 200g container contains about eight per cent of your daily needs for zinc. Try a cup of fat-free yoghurt for a mid-afternoon snack or as part of your post-workout shake. For added protein, try Greek yoghurt instead.
Moving away from the breakfast realm, we go swimming with the fi shes. Salmon, a great source of protein, helps to increase your metabolism because of its omega-3 fatty acid content. “Omega-3s alter the body’s levels of leptin, a hormone involved in appetite and the way the body metabolises fat,” says White. The omega-3s may also activate genes that increase fatburning and turn off genes that encourage fat storage. Just 85g of this fish contains a musclebuilding 19 grams of protein, further upping its stock on the fat-fighting hot list.
If you’re on a very strict diet already and your mind has hit the stage where all it does is contemplate your next cheat meal, mentioning this spice probably conjures images of a giant cinnamon roll. Well, it’s not that kind of cinnamon that’s going to help you get lean. The spice itself, which is incredibly inexpensive, provides a host of metabolic benefits. “Cinnamon may help regulate blood sugar levels,” says White. “Add it to oatmeal, smoothies and dry rubs along with chilli powder, pepper and cumin for meat, chicken or fish.” Adding a few shakes of cinnamon onto your morning oatmeal can further help stabilise blood sugar, sustain satiety and provide long-lasting energy at a time when your body needs it most.

This bodybuilding staple is on the list for a reason: it’s good for you (and your abs). This fibre-heavy breakfast food digests at a very slow rate, meaning that its carbs are released into your bloodstream gradually, helping you to avoid a crash in your energy levels. “Oatmeal is especially high in soluble fi bre, which binds to fatty acids and helps remove them from the body,” says White. “Soluble fi bre also helps regulate blood sugar levels to avoid drastic spikes and dips in hunger and energy levels. A good serving is one to 11⁄2 cups cooked.” May we also recommend a bit of cinnamon? See No. 8.

Do you like a little spice on your food? So do we. That’s a good thing, particularly if your spice of choice is chilli. Chillies contain a miracle compound that can help you torch more calories in the long run. “Capsaicin increases heart rate and boosts metabolism,” says White. “The higher the heart rate, the more calories you burn.” Capsaicin also triggers a release of adrenaline, can reduce hunger and increase satiety and help to mobilise more fat. In other words, if you’re not spicing your food with this stuff, you should be. We won’t offer a specific recommendation because people’s tolerance for spicy food differs. To be safe, start with a small sprinkling in some of your meat marinades and increase it to taste.

This is another group of foods that has been demonised by harddieting bodybuilders. Dairy, which is avoided like the plague by precontest athletes, is a nutritional ATM for calcium. Yes, calcium helps build strong bones, but its benefi ts go further than that. “Dairy contains a benefi cial ratio of carbs to protein—and that’s why chocolate milk is a great post-workout beverage,” says White. “There is also some research to suggest that a high-calcium diet can increase fat loss.” Have low-fat string cheese as a snack or include a cup of skim milk with your morning cereal or oatmeal.

When you’re looking for a morning pickme- up, you don’t always have to choose coffee. Green tea can be just as good of a choice. Green tea’s active compound, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), raises metabolism and fat burning. “There is also some evidence to support it improves cognitive function and mental alertness,” says White. It also contains caffeine, which we covered in number three (not the least of which is prolonged time to exhaustion during exercise). Consume two or three cups a day for a welcome boost or take it in supplement form. With the latter, pick up products that are standardised for EGCG, and take enough to provide up to 1,200 milligrams of EGCG per day over two to four doses.

This tart citrus fruit is a must-have food for fat-burning. Grapefruit contains an antioxidant called naringin, which is thought to possess fat-burning properties. But beyond that, grapefruit is full of vitamin C, which isn’t just good for your immune system. Studies show that vitamin C helps maximise the properties of arginine—which you are probably already taking —by breaking down free radicals that accumulate as a result of hard training. This means less degradation of nitric oxide, so you get more of arginine’s muscle-building benefits, which include greater hormone delivery to muscles and a better pump. “Subjects who ate half a grapefruit with meals or drank 240ml of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 1.8kg (with some losing more than 4.5kg) in 12 weeks without dieting,” says Buttler.

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