Superpower: fights fat If there were an Academy Award for Flat Abs, the monounsaturated fat in avocados would be the Meryl Streep of nutrients, winning nods year after year. Dieters who consumed monounsaturated fats lost more stomach bulge than those eating the same number of calories but less of the fats, a study in the journal Diabetes Care finds. And a study in the journal Obesity reveals that when monkeys ate trans fats, their waists were 30 percent bigger than those of simians eating monounsaturated fats.
How it works Blood sugar peaks can signal your body to store fat around your midsection, but monounsaturated fats stop the spikes, thwarting fat accumulation. Half an avocado contains 10 grams of the healthy fats. Dip veggie slices in 1/4 cup guacamole for a flat-ab snack.
Superpower: revs metabolism Everyone has a six-pack in there somewhere. Unveil yours by melting the fat covering it up. Drinking three cups of green tea a day may kick up your metabolism and erase 30 calories daily, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows. How it works The compound ECGC in green tea makes it easier for your body to fry fat. The extra burn can help you shed about 3 pounds a year, simply from sipping.
Superpower: flattens fast After you achieve the bikini-worthy abs of your dreams, a bit of bloat can still have you reaching for a cover-up. Treat puffiness with probiotic-rich yogurt. How it works One creamy cup encourages the growth of good bacteria in your gut—which crowds out other bugs that can cause bloating, says David Grotto, R.D., author of 101 Optimal Life Foods (Bantam). Add plain yogurt with a Live & Active Cultures seal (such as Dannon) to your torso-trimming grocery list.
Superpower: fuel fitness Fat-blasting cardio is an essential ingredient for sexy, sculpted abs—and antioxidants in berries enable you to step up crucial conditioning. How they work "Antioxidants help improve blood flow—which delivers more oxygen to your muscles," says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "Giving your muscles the oxygen they need makes exercise feel easier, so you may work out harder, longer and more often." Blueberries and blackberries top the antioxidant chart; try them on whole-grainwaffles or in a turkey-lettuce roll-up.
Superpower: shrinks fat cells Bring on the carbs! Dieters who dined on whole grains lost more tummy fat than calorie cutters who ate refined grains, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes. Half a cup of cooked bulgur has more fiber (4 g) and fewer calories (76) than other grains. How it works Fiber aids in keeping your body's insulin levels low—which researchers speculate may shrink fat cells, suggests a study from the University of Kuopio in Finland.
Superpower: builds muscle Upgrade your postworkout sip to score a stronger stomach. Athletes who drank chocolate milk had lower levels of muscle damage after four days of intense exercising than those who guzzled a sports drink, early findings presented at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Seattle report. How it works A glass of the sweet stuff teams carbs with protein to promote muscle building, Grotto says. Stir in 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder or syrup that has less than 20 g sugar and say, "Bye-bye, Buddha belly!"