There are lots of legitimate reasons why you might want to get rid of that pesky belly fat. Known as visceral fat, it’s linked to a whole slew of serious health concerns, including an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and metabolic problems. To that end, dietitians say one habit you might want to pick up ASAP is adding fruit to your breakfast—partly because it’s low in calories and high in satiating fiber, which is associated with reduced visceral fat.
“Fruits have a variety of nutrients that can help the body control weight,” says Blanca Garcia, RDN, nutrition specialist for HealthCanal. “The first important nutrient is a complex carbohydrate called fiber, this fiber does not get broken down or absorbed. It goes through the body completely unchanged, but its benefit is that it traps extra sugars and fat and expels them through stool. This helps the body control the amount of sugar and fat that is stored in the body.”
Not only that but Holly Klamer, RDN with MyCrohn’sandColitisTeam, notes that fruits are loaded with antioxidants and other vitamins that may help lower inflammation, which is associated with abdominal fat. Remember, though—just eating fruit at breakfast cannot guarantee a reduction in visceral fat if the rest of your diet is unhealthy, which is why Klamer says it’s crucial to aim for a balance of lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats at every meal.
Below, dietitians share a few of their favorite fruit-themed breakfasts for blasting belly fat. But first: check out the 9 Best Foods That Melt Belly Fat.
A piping hot bowl of oats is sure to stick with you all morning long, especially when you add fiber-rich apple to it. Best of all, by including cinnamon, Garcia says you likely won’t need to add much sugar to enhance the flavor.
There’s one other very good reason to add this tasty spice to your daily oats: Cinnamon has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. And studies have repeatedly shown that inflammation is closely linked to visceral fat.
Chia seeds and berries are among the highest-fiber foods you can find, says Klamer—and not only that, but they also both happen to be antioxidant powerhouses.
“The fiber can help you stay full long after eating, and the protein from chia seeds can also help keep you full,” she explains. “The antioxidants, meanwhile, can help lower inflammation associated with abdominal fat.”
To make chia seed pudding, just soak the chia seeds in almond or coconut milk and add a dash of vanilla extract and liquid stevia before topping with the berries of your choice.
Marissa Meshulam, RD and founder of MPM Nutrition, likes to start the morning with a fat-burning fruit smoothie. It’s an easy way to load up on some essential vitamins early in the day.
Still, not all smoothies are created equal. Ideally, Meshulam says your morning blend should contain a source of protein (like pea protein powder, Greek yogurt, or hemp seeds) and healthy fats (like avocado or peanut butter). She also suggests tossing some veggies in, like frozen riced cauliflower or spinach, for a filling boost of fiber and added antioxidants.
For one, replacing the wheat flour with almond flour ensures you keep the carb and calorie content low but the protein content high so you stay satiated for hours (thus preventing you from snacking on unhealthy treats that might contribute to belly fat). Top your stack of pancakes off with fresh strawberries, which Baron notes are lower on the glycemic index. That means this particular fruit won’t spike your blood sugar, which is important given that excess insulin triggers the body to store more fat.
You can’t go wrong starting your day off with this classic sandwich, says Garcia—the peanut butter offers filling protein and healthy fat, and the banana slices eliminate the need for sugary jam while providing some fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.
As an alternative, Carrie Gabriel, RDN suggests trying almond butter and sliced apples on your sandwich instead.
“Apples are very high in pectin, a starch that binds with water and makes it more difficult for your cells to absorb fat,” she explains. “Apples are also high in fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer and aids in the reduction of visceral fat over time. And almond butter is high in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat and protein to keep you satiated for a longer period of time.”
Whichever option you choose, just make sure to use 100% whole-grain bread for maximum fiber. If the label doesn’t say whole grain, that means the wheat has been stripped of the nutrient-rich husk and bran.
Craving a change from your daily bowl of oats? Baron recommends making a hearty porridge with hemp hearts instead for a low-calorie, high-fiber, keto-friendly meal.
“The hemp hearts contain beta-glucans that can reduce your blood sugar levels and increase your insulin sensitivity,” he explains. “This translates into your body using the sugar in your blood more readily, and storing less of it as fat.”
Top the porridge with some sliced pear, which is high in polyphenol antioxidants and packed with visceral fat-fighting soluble and insoluble fiber.
Greek yogurt parfaits are a popular breakfast choice for a few good reasons: they’re tasty, can be easily customized to incorporate whatever add-ins you prefer, and most importantly, they’re high in protein. Numerous studies have shown that people with high-protein diets tend to have less belly fat than those who eat less protein.
If you go this route, though, Meshulam strongly advises choosing plain, unsweetened yogurt and using nuts and seeds for some satisfying crunch rather than pre-packaged granolas, which can be high in sugar and fat.
Another option, says Baron, is to make your own grain-free granola by combining sunflower, seeds, pumpkin seeds, and shredded coconut with a dash of coconut oil and baking the mixture in the oven for about 20 minutes.
“By cutting out the typical grains, you remove a lot of the carbs, which reduces the energy density,” he explains.
Don’t forget to complete your parfait with a serving of low-sugar fruit, like kiwis, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, or plums.