Fight belly fat by avoiding these 6 foods. A lot of people who have extra inches through their waistline don’t necessary overeat, but they do eat and drink too much of the wrong foods. Even in small amounts, calorie-free and diet foods can throw our body into a metabolic tailspin. Add in the foods we don’t give much thought to because they’re either fat free or added to otherwise healthy foods and weight gain, particularly through the belly, is inevitable.
Here is my list of the six big offenders that do no favors when it comes to controlling body fat, much less the scale.
Whether you drink it for the taste or not, diet sodas are a fast trip to weight gain. I think we all know that diet soda doesn’t help us lose weight, but we’re afraid to stop drinking it because of we do we’ll somehow gain weight. According to a recent Johns Hopkins study, the opposite is true! The 2000-person study revealed that people who drink diet soda tended to eat more calories throughout the day. Diet sodas have been shown to affect insulin sensitivity. In fact, a 2009 study in Diabetes Care showed that people who regularly consumed diet beverages were at a significantly greater risk for developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
SOLUTION: Instead of drinking diet sodas or regular soda, try adding a splash of real fruit juice to sparkling water.
2. Espresso Beverages
I’m not talking about a shot of espresso, or even a cup of coffee. While I think that people who have belly fat need to lay off caffeine, there could be worse things in the world than a plain old cup of coffee.
I’m talking about mochas, lattes and all the other high-calorie, caffeinated, sugar-loaded drinks that – with or without whipped cream - throw stress hormones into overdrive fast. Cortisol, insulin and adrenals can become taxed from just one cup of Joe with nothing in it. Add the one-two punch of caffeine + sugar and your waistline doesn’t stand a chance.
SOLUTION: First, cut back on the sugary espresso drinks and substitute a less-sugary espresso drink. There are still plenty to choose from. After that, stop drinking caffeinated beverages after noon. If you feel you need a pick me up late in the day, something needs to be adjusted in your diet. Usually it’s too much sugar and not enough fat or protein.
3. Low Cal Snack Packs
Marketed to you and kids, low calorie snack packs may weigh in at a mere 100 (or so) calories, but this is one category where quality counts. There is nothing feel-good about enriched flours, several teaspoons of sugar and unhealthy fats.
SOLUTION: Just about anything clean and convenient that doesn’t come in a package. Easier said than done, I know.
4. Sandwiches, the pre-made restaurant variety
Whether they’re from a restaurant or gas station, sandwiches are the death of the American diet. No, one sandwich once a week is not that bad, but when we have sandwiches for all three meals, our habit of eating straight from our hands has gotten out of control. Whether it’s breakfast (bagels, egg muffins), lunch (subs, wraps and regular sandwiches) or dinner (burgers, hot dogs, brats), a lot of what we eat involves bread.
Not all bread products are terrible, but most – particularly those that are purchased in restaurants – are very refined, stripped of all nutrition and, well, just calories. It’s easy to see how someone could eat 600+ calories alone in bread alone! That doesn’t even include what’s inside the sandwich.
SOLUTION: Cut your bread habit down to one meal a day, and don’t compensate by eating pasta, because that’s not much better. Instead, aim for salads, broth-based soups and other vegetable-based meals.
5. Sugary Yogurts
Sugary yogurts usually contain a mountain of sugar, and if they don’t, they contain a heap of non-nutritive sweeteners that do nothing but wreak havoc on your body. I like to think of sugary yogurts as deceptive desserts.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: try plain yogurt with a little honey, cinnamon or fresh fruit instead. Save the unneeded sugar and give your body an extra boost of nutrition.
Be it ranch, thousand island, French or bleu cheese, salad dressings that have been commercially prepared are a haven for trans fats, rancid oils and loads of calories that make a b-line to your belly. An average serving size of salad dressing is two tablespoons, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 calories. It’s not uncommon to double the amount of dressing added to salad, be it at home or in a restaurant.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: try combining balsamic vinegar and olive oil or just get the dressing on the side. Remember that a two-ounce portion cup is four tablespoons! That’s two servings. A little dressing goes a long way.
Traci D Mitchell is a nationally-recognized Chicago-based nutrition coach and personal trainer featured on the TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. As the trainer for Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp, Traci keeps herself busy by challenging others to be the healthiest they can be. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and private coaching. Interested in working with Traci? Get info here. To keep up-to-date, subscribe to her newsletter.