Flat-Belly Fare
When you subtract kilojoules from your diet, add back the right stuff: a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that certain nutrients can help keep you slim. Grub high in the nutrients below tends to be lower in kilojoules and higher in filling fibre, says author Dr Christina Shay. Plus, it may have stealth slimming qualities.

Vitamin A
In a study in the journal Obesity, vitamin A helped regulate fat tissue in mice. Those fed A-deficient diets were the fatter rats.
Find it in sweet potatoes, carrots spinach

Vitamin C
Researchers from Spain found that obese rats on high-fat diets gained less fat if their chow was enriched with C. The vitamin’s antioxidant effects may cut fat formation.
Find it in red peppers, oranges, broccoli

Nonheme Iron
Researchers from Australia say obese people have disruptions in iron metabolism, although it’s not clear why. Most of the iron in your diet is nonheme, which means it comes from plant sources. Heme iron comes from animal sources such as beef.
Find it in white beans, lentils, artichokes

One study found that the less magnesium people consumed, the more likely they had a cluster of conditions (including obesity) that raises heart disease and diabetes risk. Magnesium deficiency coupled with obesity may contribute to insulin resistance.
Find it in bulgur wheat, chickpeas, Brazil nuts

Belly Bacteria
The microbes in your gut may affect the size of your waistline. A University of North Carolina study reveals that a type of bacteria found in the intestines of zebra fish increases their absorption of fat from food. Next up: researchers will try to confirm the effect in larger animals and humans, says study author Dr John F. Rawls. Then they’ll work on ways to reduce the bacteria’s ability to aid fat absorption.

Your first step to slim
Don’t be daunted by a resolution to lose weight. Small changes are key: for example, a study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health shows that a brisk daily walk can jumpstart weight loss. People who walked for 30 minutes a day over three weeks lost just over half a kilogram without changing their diet. That’s because the speedy stroll helped participants burn an extra 477kj a day on average, the researchers say. Try a walk during the second half of your lunch break.

Worried thick
It’s easier to cut kilojoules when you understand why junk food can be so tempting. One reason is that stress intensifies the taste of sweet and salty foods, a study from Turkey shows. After people completed a set of mental tests, those who were stressed had decreased taste thresholds – meaning their sense of taste was heightened. This may make eating under stress more pleasurable, says study author Dr Esin Ileri-Gurel. Of course, this can make food taste so good that you can’t resist gorging. So ask yourself: am I hungry, or is this appealing because I’m stressed?

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