Whether you're eager to squeeze into a specific outfit or want to improve your workout stamina and overall health, everyone has their own reasons for going on a diet.
However, there's one goal practically everyone trying to lose weight has in common: getting a flat belly. While shaving off a few pounds can help reduce your risk of certain chronic ailments, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatty liver, losing inches off your waist may also lower your heart attack risk. In fact, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that waist-to-hip ratio was a better predictor of heart attack risk than BMI.
That said, not all diets are created equal when it comes to losing belly fat. According to Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, registered dietitian and author at Fit Healthy Momma, there's a clear victor when it comes to getting a flat belly: the keto diet.
"The keto diet is high in protein and in general whole, single-ingredient foods, which are loaded with nutrients, she says.
And although keto dieters tend to only consume 20-50 grams of carbs per day, if you're getting those carbs from whole fruits and vegetables, you'll also be getting a solid dose of fiber. "Eating more soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat, and, more importantly, can help prevent belly fat gain," says D'Angelo. "One study showed a 3.7% lower risk of gaining belly fat with a 10-gram increase in daily soluble fiber intake."
For example, low carb vegetables for the keto diet include avocado (3 grams of fiber per serving and 1 gram of net carbs), cauliflower (3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs), celery (1.5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs), asparagus (3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs), radishes (2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs), to name a few.
"High protein diets help with belly fat because you're getting 25-30% of your calories from protein. With the keto diet, you're eating more high protein foods like fish, whole eggs, nuts, meat, and dairy products. These are the best sources of protein and there have been successful studies that have shown people who ate more and better protein had much less abdominal fat," D'Angelo adds.
According to a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Physiology, among a group of overweight or obese adult women, adhering to a normal diet for four weeks, followed by four weeks of ketogenic dieting, reduced their waist circumference by 4 centimeters and their hip circumference by 2.5 centimeters.
What's more, a 2017 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology&Metabolism found that, among a group of 20 obese patients who stuck to a keto diet for four months, weight loss primarily came from fat and visceral mass, while muscle mass was largely unaffected.
Read this next: