No one wants to be overweight, but there’s something about belly fat that seems worse than other types. Even the names make us cringe: Muffin top. Beer belly. Spare tire. Widening at the waistline, however, is not just aesthetically unpleasant; it’s also bad for your health. Studies have shown that the larger your waist measurement, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. While eating well, taking supplements and exercising are all excellent ways to slow the expansion of your waistline, there are also some foods that you should completely avoid if losing belly fat is your goal.
Top 5 foods to NOT eat to avoid belly fat
Here’s the ultimate “perp walk” when it comes to belly-busting foods.
- Soda – Soda pop is pure liquid calories. A single super-sized drink, the kind you can get from a convenience store, packs as much pure sugar as an entire chocolate cake. Worse still, the sugar in most sodas is in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, an artificial form of sugar that has undergone a chemical process to enhance its level of sweetness. In a study reported by SCIENCE Natural News (1), rats were fed either high-fructose corn syrup or plain sucrose as part of their diet. It was found that the corn syrup-fed rats not only gained more weight but also had a significant increase in abdominal weight gain. Move over beer belly! Soda belly may be taking your place.
- White bread – White bread is made from highly processed white flour. Nearly all the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in whole grains have been completely removed. The result is a carbohydrate that is quickly processed by your body, causing your blood sugar and insulin to spike, and then drop. This process, if repeated often enough, can lead to obesity, pancreatic fatigue, type 2 diabetes and increased belly fat.
- Alcohol – Alcohol is simply highly refined sugar. And, while some studies show that moderate drinking can be good for your health, the sugar in alcohol is processed by your body in the same way that it processes all refined sugars and, in the process, increases your blood glucose levels. This, just as with refined sugars, can adversely affect your weight, your pancreas and your waistline.
- French fries – People think of French fries as starchy, because they’re made with potatoes, and high-calorie, because they’re fried in oil, but when it comes to avoiding belly fat, it’s not the starch or calories that are the problem. The problem is that most of the French fries served by restaurants and fast food outlets are fried in hydrogenated trans fats — chemically altered vegetable oils. Trans fats have long been known for their negative impact on our health, including an increased risk of heart disease. But a 2007 study reported by the National Institutes of Health (2), which measured how monkeys responded to fat in their diets, has conclusively linked trans fats and belly fat. It was found that the monkeys who consumed trans fats — as opposed to healthy, monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil — not only gained more weight than the animals eating the healthier fats but also gained that weight around their middle sections. The trans fat-fed monkeys even gained weight when they were not consuming too many overall calories! Trans fats, found in many processed foods other than French fries, should always be avoided.
- Hamburgers – Because it’s usually made with ground beef and processed cheese, the all-American hamburger is sky high in saturated animal fats. Saturated fats have been linked to heart disease, arthritis, many types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. A diet high in saturated fat not only contributes to weight gain but also contributes specifically to abdominal weight gain. A study published by the American Diabetes Association (3) showed that participants who consumed extra calories in the form of saturated fats gained more weight in the abdominal area than participants who received those extra calories in the form of healthy fats. The take away? Skip the burgers at you next barbeque, and serve skinless chicken breasts or broiled fish and veggies instead.