You can beat belly fat on a full stomach -- as long as you choose the right foods. Making simple substitutions, such as the greens you use in your salads and the snacks you munch come midafternoon, can help blast away excess chub. Here are some simple swaps.
Rolled oats or bran cereal for bread crumbs. Try substituting the bread crumbs in meatballs, or slip barley into your chicken noodle soup. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who loaded their diets with whole grains were more likely to lose fat from their guts than those who noshed on the enriched kind. Whole grains are higher in fiber than refined starches, so you'll feel fuller eating less.
Avocado for butter. This may sound a little adventurous, but you won't taste the difference: Switch out half of the butter in a cookie recipe for mashed avocado. This simple change will reduce fat content by 40 percent and cut the number of calories by nearly as much. You'll still get the creaminess of butter and the fatty taste, but this substitution knocks out some of the saturated fat in favor of the belly-flattening monounsaturated kind. Sure your cookies might have a green tinge, but they should also be chewier and softer.
Cauliflower for rice. Cauliflower is the low-carb dieter's go-to food. Its mild taste makes the veggie a perfect substitute for carb-heavy potatoes and rice. Whipping up a dish is easy: Use a food processor or hand grater to break up cauliflower florets and stalks into tiny rice-sized pieces, then saute them in olive oil. Cauliflower has a lower glycemic index than rice, so your body won't experience that spike in insulin that can lead to carb cravings.
Beans for enriched flour or shortening. Use beans in place of flour or shortening in brownies made from scratch. It may sound odd, but you probably won't even notice the legumes. In a blind taste test in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2005, study participants rating brownies made with pureed cooked cannellini beans gave the low-fat confections high marks. If you're more inclined to bake from a box, just add a can to a ready-made mix to give your batch a boost of belly-flattening fiber. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who increased their daily intake of fiber by 6 grams shrank their bellies by 4 percent, and these moist brownies pack about 3 grams per serving.
Sliced zucchini for lasagna noodles. Increase your veggie intake by layering zucchini or eggplant instead of noodles in your lasagna. Hiding vegetables in your food increases veggie consumption and decreases the number of calories that you eat, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers at Penn State added pureed carrots, squash and cauliflower to breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees to make low-cal meals. Even though study participants consumed fewer calories, they felt as full and thought the veggie versions were as tasty.