Now, eat two small apples, one cup of green peas and one-half cup of pinto beans and exercise vigorously for 30 minutes, two to four times a week. That should show a visible difference in your tummy area.
According to the researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, vegetables, fruit and beans contain more soluble fiber and will help reduce visceral fat, or belly fat, around the midsection.
They found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. In addition, increased moderate activity resulted in a 7.4 percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period.
"We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease," said Kristen Hairston, assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and lead researcher on the study.
"Our study found that making a few simple changes can have a big health impact," he added.
The researchers examined whether lifestyle factors, such as diet and frequency of exercise, were associated with a five-year change in abdominal fat of African Americans and Hispanic Americans.
At the beginning of the study, which involved 1,114 people, the participants were given a physical exam, an extensive questionnaire on lifestyle issues, and a CT scan. Five years later, the exact same process was repeated.
The researchers found that increased soluble fiber intake was associated with a decreased rate of accumulated visceral fat, but not subcutaneous fat.
"There is mounting evidence that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat, although we still don't know how it works," said Hairston.
The results are published in the June 16 online issue of the journal Obesity.