obese and skinny woman measuring waist

2021 Best Superfoods For Weight Loss & Burning Belly Fat

[toc]If you had a dollar for every product which claimed it was the secret of how to get rid of belly fat fast, you would have more money than Oprah.

Speaking of Oprah, how about her protégé Dr. Mehmet Oz. How many ridiculous banners do you see which claim to be supplements endorsed by him. They promise their “one weird trick” is the Dr. Oz approved method for rapid weight loss.

Wrong! He does not endorse ANY diet pills or products. Those are all false advertising.

It is true that Dr. Oz occasionally talks about diet superfoods and supplements on his show – like garcinia cambogia fruit extract and forskolin – but he is only reporting scientific research about them. He is not endorsing those foods/supplements, nor is he the one making claims about their benefits (or if they even work at all) (1). Furthermore, Oz certainly does not endorse or encourage the buying of any specific brands or manufacturers.

In short, whenever someone claims they are selling an official Dr. Oz superfood for losing weight, they aren’t telling the truth. Likewise for Oprah and other legit talk show hosts… they don’t sell, they only report. Don’t get scammed.

What causes belly fat?

woman standing on body scale that reads WTFSomething else you need to watch out for are the diet pills and foods which promise to quickly reduce belly bloat. We get the appeal of why that is so desirable for women. Unlike the upper legs and butt, your tummy is one part of the body where curves are not preferred!

The problem is that targeting stomach fat may not be possible.

You have these 2 types in your abdomen:

  • Subcutaneous fat: This is what’s right under the surface of the skin, in front of your ab muscles. When you pinch your belly or grab and jiggle it, this is what you are feeling.
  • Visceral fat: This is what likely makes up the bulk of the fat on your belly. It’s not anywhere near the surface, but rather around your vital organs and behind your abdominal muscles.

Visceral fat is the biggest problem for bulges. Both types contribute to the unsightly bulge, but visceral really adds to that protrusion you can’t simply disguise with clothes.

You need to know these factors…

1. Alcohol consumption, even a little bit

The term “beer belly” is actually supported by science. How much alcohol you consume correlates with how much visceral fat you have. In both women and men, the more you drink, the bigger your abdomen becomes (and no, sadly we’re not talking about bigger ab muscles here).

That’s according a study conducted by the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University at Buffalo. Published in The Journal of Nutrition, below is a graph of the findings based on 2,343 people, ranging from 35 years old all the way up to age 79 (2).

To keep the comparison fair, results were adjusted for age, education, physical activity, current smoking status and total alcohol intake (for example, a 40 year old’s measurement wasn’t being compared to a 60 year old).

graph showing how drinking affects abdominal fat

The term “abdominal height” is rarely used outside the medical field. It’s considered one of the best measurements of stomach fat. Basically if you were flat on a table on your black, it is a measurement of how high above the table your belly button is.

woman holding cocktailAs you see, just having 2 drinks per day increases abdominal fat by 5%. With 3 or more drinks, it goes up by around 12% in women.

The study does not provide the cause, only the results. But what’s interesting is that this visceral flub surrounds your abdominal organs and your liver is the biggest in the area. Could the alcohol be affecting the health of the liver, which then affects the fat that gathers around it? Or is the alcohol affecting hormone levels, similar to what pregnant women and post-menopausal experience?

5% may not seem like much, but that’s easily a couple pant sizes or dress size bigger. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that red wine is a superfood because it clearly isn’t when it comes to your waistline!

2. Exercise affects your fat distribution

No, we’re not talking about exercising to burn off fat. You already know that.

The research suggests that overweight people – even when they remain so – will have less visceral and subcutaneous fat if they exercise (4). The higher the intensity, the less they had.

graph showing how exercise affects body fat distribution

Remember we’re not talking about exercise to lose weight, but rather just how it affects the distribution on the body.

3. Post-menopause causes more in midsection

A healthy diet of eating the right foods is even more important for women post-menopause.

Why? Because the research suggests that you are more likely to have a higher proportion of visceral fat after menopause than before (3). Terrible news for women in their forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond.

4. You can’t do spot reduction

If you do 200 sit-ups a day, will your belly become skinnier? Nope. The muscle may become stronger and therefore more noticeable, but the amount of fat in that area will remain the same.

Countless studies have shown that “spot” loss is not possible. You can’t make one area lose faster than another.

Take the one conducted in Denmark which was published in the American Journal of Physiology (6). Men did single-leg extension exercises for 30 minute sessions.

The fat burned came from everywhere in the body. Even though a tiny bit more came from the subcutaneous fat in the exercised leg, it didn’t matter because afterward, the additional burned “spot” fat was replenished.

“…it cannot be foreseen if specific exercises can induce spot reduction, since triacylglycerol (TG) stores could be fully replenished or even supercompensated between exercise sessions.”

In other words, there are no fast shortcuts. When you lose weight, you have to lose it equally throughout your body, regardless of which part you are exercising.

5. Food may not affect fat distribution

Sure, there have been studies for certain foods and ingredients which might marginally impact how much ends up at the midsection. For example, trans fat may cause that (5). But ultimately the person still has to be overweight to some degree in the first place for that occur.

When we are overweight, all parts of our body gain weight. It’s just that the midsection is the most noticeable.

pinching belly fatFor example let’s say you got 10% heavier. Your arm getting 10% bigger in circumference may not be as noticeable, but when that same 10% happens to your tummy, it’s super obvious and you’re reminded of it on a daily basis – your pants don’t fit, your belly hangs over your waistline. It’s not that you’re getting fatter there instead of elsewhere, it’s just that the waist is so freaking noticeable and a constant reminder to you.

In reality, it’s everywhere that is overweight, not just your tummy. For that reason, you should be focusing on superfoods for weight loss in general. Because if you have love handles, it means you need to diet. You don’t need to shed pounds in only one spot, you need to address all spots.

What this all means

graph of how many Americans are obeseSellers of supplements and foods are clever people. They know literally every woman on earth obsesses over her weight, especially her midsection being that it’s the most noticeable location.

That is precisely the reason they describe them as foods for belly fat loss. They are not ingredients which help there instead of your arms, legs, feet, and neck. Rather, it just sounds better to include that tummy terminology when describing them.

Saying you will see rapid results or that you will quickly be able to lose pounds is also just marketing. Remember those words are subjective, so their definition of “fast” may be what most people consider to be slow.

Describe them however you want, but when you cut through the marketing mumbo jumbo, it just comes down to choosing good weight loss foods and regimens. It’s not just your tummy, it’s everything.

Our top 10 superfoods list

What foods encourage fat loss and what ones are a scam? You won’t get that answer from the retailers who sell them, but you will in our unbiased reviews.

Are we a manufacturer or retailer of these items? Nope!

We operate this website as a hobby, to share our passion and knowledge for nutrition with you.

We do show some ads to help subsidize the costs of running this site, but other than that we are not selling anything. Since we can show ads for just about any product, we’re not swayed by specific manufacturers. We just report what we honestly believe are the best superfoods.

We do earn a small commission with ads when you click them through our blog and buy them. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do.

Do we claim these are endorsed by celebrities? Nope!

If you’re looking for a list of the best weight loss foods from Dr. Oz, you’re in the wrong place! Our top 10 list is based on our own extensive scientific research and has absolutely nothing to do with what celebrities or talk show hosts are discussing.

If you heard about one of the below foods on a TV show or in a magazine, it’s purely coincidental. Because we at Superfoodly take pride in the fact that we independently come to our own conclusions about foods, based on the thousands of research papers and clinical studies we have read over the years.

1. Baobab fruit extract

baobab fruit hanging on treeWhy we like it

Based on ORAC values, it is one of the highest antioxidant substances on earth; 40% more than acai and nearly 30x higher than blueberries.

Baobab contains more fiber than any other superfruit – over 50% of its content is fiber. When you’re trying to drop those pounds, healthy fiber intake is important to help you feel full. The more satisfied you feel when eating, the less likely you are to keep eating!

How people use it

You don’t need much of this exotic African fruit. Add a tablespoon or two to your yogurt, smoothie, protein shake, oatmeal, or even into the batter of baked goods you make. It tastes slightly sweet but has very low sugar content and is a neutral flavor, which makes it easy to include in almost any recipe. Because it is so high fiber, don’t use too much. This is a brand of it we like on Amazon.

2. Apple cider vinegar

Bragg ACV bottleWhy we like it

Although a more recent trend in the United States, reportedly in North African culture women have been using apple cider vinegar “to achieve weight loss for generations” and men (bodybuilders) are said to use it for purported rapid results before competitions (8). Despite being one of the most popular foods for dropping the pounds, clinical trials have not been done to validate this claim.

We are not making any claims about whether or not it works. All we know is that for us personally, we find that when we use it 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, we end up eating less.

How people use it

You should never consume vinegars straight. They need to be diluted in water. Undiluted apple cider vinegar – as well as all other varieties of vinegar – can destroy your teeth enamel if not watered down first.

As a dietary supplement, Bragg’s (our favorite manufacturer of it) provides the following instructions:

Stir 1 to 2 tsps of Bragg organic apple cider vinegar in 8 oz. glass of water. Optionally, you can add a sweetener like organic honey, monk fruit, or molasses.

3. Green tea

matcha green teaWhy we like it

This is not some flavor of the week fad. For a long time now, green tea has been studied for reportedly offering weight loss benefits and it does not appear to be caused by the caffeine.

According to the results from a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it had thermogenic effect on participants, boosting metabolism burn by 4% over a 24 hour period when compared to those on a placebo (7).

How people use it

The research suggests both regular and decaf green tea has the same effect. Try substituting your morning coffee with freshly brewed green tea. During the afternoon and evening hours, stick with the decaf so you don’t lose sleep at night.

4. Chia seeds

chia seed yogurtWhy we like them

Chia is a controversial food. Many people claim that it’s a superfood that encourages losing weight, but the research does not support that. There have not been many clinical studies so far, but for the ones that have been done, those consuming chia did not lose more weight versus those who weren’t (9). However we still like chia because it is a very fiber-rich food and has more omega 3’s than salmon based on an equal ounce vs. ounce comparison.

How people use them

Like all seeds and nuts, they are very dense in calories and therefore should be used sparingly when you are dieting. Similar to baobab fruit, you can easily sprinkle a teaspoon or two into your breakfast foods and desserts.

5. Purple sweet potatoes

cooked purple sweet potatoWhy we like them

You won’t hear the Atkins diet crowd saying you should eat a potato because – gasp – they contain carbs! Well news flash… carbs are actually needed in your diet for energy. Just like most nutrients, in moderation they’re healthy, in excess they’re not. The USDA actually recommends the following for adults (10):

  • 45 to 65% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 20 to 35% from fats
  • 10 to 35% from proteins

Eliminating the largest category is foolish. Even if you want to consume less, you still need plenty of carbs on a daily basis. Not only are sweet potatoes very high in antioxidants, but if you prepare them the right way an entire potato is only around 130 calories. That can be a very filling and nutritious portion of your lunch or dinner!

How people use them

We have a low calorie recipe for how to cook a purple sweet potato, which includes info on where you might be able to buy them. But be warned, there’s not a fast method to prepare them (at least one that’s healthy).

6. Chili peppers, in any form

chili peppers in basketWhy we like them

Not everyone is a fan of spicy food, but if you are there are actually health benefits of advantages of consuming them. As a spice, whether it’s cayenne powder or plain black pepper, they’re high in antioxidants.

The same holds true for the fresh peppers. In fact, dried jalapenos have 2x the antioxidants as fresh blueberries when compared on an equal weight basis (but of course you can consume berries in abundance, spicy peppers must be consumed in much smaller amounts).

For obesity, these foods may offer benefits too. Capsaicin – the phytochemical which makes them spicy – has been shown to increase metabolism in a plethora of studies (14). It has also been shown to reduce appetite (15). If you like the heat and can handle it, then these two characteristics make hot chili peppers a great diet food/ingredient to include in your meals.

How people use them

Most people use them the wrong way. Hot sauce is a low calorie condiment but sadly, almost every major brand on the market is very high in sodium. When you’re consuming chili for losing weight, chances are you’re using a few servings worth, which makes the sodium especially problematic.

Not only does sodium contribute to risk of heart disease and stroke, but it also adds to your water weight. The more salt you take in, the more water your body stores.

The solution? Using dried spice powder is best, which has zero added salt. Carry a jar in your purse to use at restaurants. If you must use a prepared hot sauce, Tabasco has a lot less salt than Frank’s Red Hot, Tapatio, Cholula, and Louisiana brands. Huy Fong Sriracha (the main brand with the red rooster logo) isn’t terribly high, but it still has about 2x as much as Tabasco.

Our favorite is Brother Bru Bru’s organic African chipotle pepper sauce because each serving only contains 1% of the daily value of sodium.

7. Apples

apple hanging on treeWhy we like them

Not every dieting food needs to be coming from some far off exotic destination like quinoa from South America or goji from China. We have many in our backyard and while an apple may seem boring to you, it’s an excellent food for dieting.

For starters, the average apple with skin has about 2/3 the antioxidants as blueberries and about the same amount as fresh goji berries, when compared on an equal ounce vs. ounce basis. But unlike fresh berries which cost a fortune, apples are affordable. One medium apple is only 95 calories, but thanks to its high fiber content its a satisfying snack.

How people use them

Feeling low on energy and need a pick me up? Don’t grab a high calorie (and empty calorie) like tortilla chips. Protein bars are often deceiving because they’re only a few bit yet they may be 250 or 300 calories. Plus, those bars are loaded with sugar and often have 50 to 70% of calories coming from fat, as is the case with Kind brand of “Strong” bars.

On the other hand an apple is high in antioxidants, low in calories, and has a lower glycemic impact than refined sugars. It may be just what you need to hold you over ’til mealtime. Any variety will do, but we prefer the taste of Honey Crisp. With many foods organic is not worth it, but with apples it is since tests show they have higher pesticide residue on them versus most other fruits and vegetables.

8. Teff

high plains of Ethiopia
Teff grows in the high plains of East African countries, primarily Ethiopia

Why we like it

What is teff? It’s a gluten free supergrain your diet shouldn’t be without. It’s the same stuff which is used in that spongy bread you get at Ethiopian restaurants. Your local supermarket is unlikely to sell it, but you can easily purchase it online.

Nope, we have not heard of Dr. Oz or any other celeb talking about this, but we certainly hope they will someday!

It’s already a favorite among those on a gluten free diet because it’s the best grain for creating that fluffy “real” bread texture without wheat or eggs. In the future, it may also become a favorite superfood for those trying to lose weight.

No human studies have been conducted to the best of our knowledge, though an interesting animal study was conducted by Pennsylvania State University and published in the Journal of Animal Science (18).

In the study, obese horses were fed a composition of teff hay. It was said to be “an excellent forage choice for obese horses.” In the concluding statements about using it for horses:

“Feeding teff hay may offer an effective strategy to decrease dietary DE (digestible energy) and help to reduce BW (body weight).”

Of course humans are not horses, but we are both mammals and not the small kinds (unlike mouse or rat studies). Whether or not it should be counted among weight loss foods is something future research will need to determine.

However what we do know is that teff is a supergrain packed with minerals, vitamins, and protein (1 cup provides 26 grams of protein). With high amounts of fiber (15 grams per cup) and low amounts of fat (only 7% of calories) it is a perfect diet food to use in your meals.

How people use it

You can use it in anything – breads, pizza crust, pancakes, you name it. What we often do is a blend of 1/3 to 1/2 teff with the remainder being brown rice flour and for more heartier dishes, some buckwheat.

9. Almonds

woman eating handful of almondsWhy we like them

Like all nuts, almonds are not a low calorie food. A small 1 ounce serving (about 23 whole almonds) comes in at 162 calories with 70% of those calories coming from fat.

Many say you should shun foods like this when you’re on a weight loss diet. In excess, we totally agree. But having a 1 ounce serving a few times per week may not be a bad idea based on the research.

There have been about 20 clinical trials done on nuts and weight and not a single one showed the gain one would expect. Sure some showed a gain (and some studies intended for that) but even then, the amount gained was less than what should have occurred based on the calories.

For example on a peanut study, mathematically they should have gained 8 lbs but actually only gained 2 lbs (11). Similar results were found in other studies involving walnuts (12).

For almonds specifically, there was a study where 81 male and female participants consumed 2 servings per day (320 calories worth) for 6 straight months (13).

Mathematically, they should have each gained 16 pounds over that period of time from the additional 320 calories per day. But the results didn’t show that… despite all that, the women on average only gained about 1/4 of a pound! In fact the amount was too small to even statistically relevant. The almonds did not result in “statistically or biologically significant changes in body weight.

How is this possible? Doesn’t this violate the first law of thermodynamics? No, it doesn’t. Researchers still aren’t quite sure where the missing calories are going, but theories have been proposed such as nut consumption reduces appetite (so you eat less later on). Most compelling is the research suggesting that the flavonoid phytonutrients found in nuts boosts how much fat you burn.

How people use them

Obviously there are a million ways, but we prefer to add a 1/2 to 1 ounce serving (about 12 to 23 almonds) to oatmeal or cereal in the morning.

We’re not making any claims as to whether or not that works, especially since that is just one of many methods we use in our daily diet. No miracle foods for belly fat are touted here. Rather we can only report on ourselves – as of today, none of the men here have a body fat percentage above 7%. We eat huge amounts of food, but we also exercise 5 to 6x per week.

10. Ceylon cinnamon

cinnamon on sliced applesWhy we like it

A number of studies have suggested that cinnamon may have a positive impact on blood sugar levels. In fact, in one British study involving 7 healthy (non-diabetic) males, it was shown that by supplementing with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon the night before an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), the men could actually “cheat” the results when the test was performed the next morning (16).

What do blood sugar levels have to do with shedding pounds? Because high levels can promote the accumulation of more body fat, since any blood sugar that is not burned for energy or stored as glycogen is converted into fatty deposits. Some have claimed cinnamon is a food that fights the abdomen specifically, but we are not aware of any reputable studies which validate or suggest that.

How people use it

You have to be careful. Cassia cinnamon, which is by far the most common kind, actually contains a phytochemical called coumarin, which can damage your liver. It’s not just some conspiracy theory either, in many countries they have strict guidelines on cinnamon consumption. For example in Germany, the government says as little as 2 grams per day can cause the side effects (17). That’s less than half a teaspoon per day!

The other form, Ceylon cinnamon, is is much less common since it’s more expensive. It doesn’t have the dangers of that toxin, but at the same time studies have shown Ceylon to have less impact on blood sugar.

The conclusion? Cassia cinnamon should only be consumed in moderation by healthy individuals or as directed by your doctor.

Even for healthy people, Diyesta organic Ceylon is a good alternative, it’s what we use ourselves.