Belly fat is probably the most stubborn fat to lose which is why people struggle so hard to make those six-pack abs visible. Even if you’re not in the race to get your abs on, too much belly fat has been associated with heart disease, dementia, asthma, and certain forms of cancer. Though there is no substitute for exercise, the secret to a flat belly lies in sticking to a healthy diet. Here are the 4 main food groups that are feeding the fat reserves around your waist and you should be avoiding them as best you can.
1. Don’t Go For Processed Grains
Grains go through food processing which strips much of their fiber and original nutritional content. This makes grains less satiating and then tend to interfere with your blood sugar levels. The lack of fiber also makes them lose their ability to control your appetite. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2009, the dietary habits of 434 men and women were studied. Researchers found that participants who ate primarily whole grains exhibited significantly less abdominal fat than those who ate mainly refined grains.
For the same reason, you should also avoid refined grain products like flours. To get all the benefits of grain, replace enriched breads, instant rice, and low-fiber cereals with whole-grain foods, such as brown rice, oatmeal and 100-percent whole-grain breads and cereals. They are more filling and provide you with better nutrition.
2. Avoid Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
Hydrogenation of oils is an industrial process where hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make a solid, long-lasting fat source. Oils that go through this process are rich in trans fats, which can damage your cholesterol levels and overall heart health. According to Harvard Health Publications, trans fats also promote abdominal weight gain.
Many restaurants, fast food chains, and packaged foods use hydrogenated oils because it’s cheaper and lasts longer. You could be consuming these oils when you have commercially prepared baked products such as crackers cookies and cakes and fried foods, such as doughnuts and French fries. Margarine also contains hydrogenated oils. If you’re on a diet, switch to healthy oils like olive oil and canola oil. You can also get your daily intake of healthy fats from avocados, nuts, and seeds.
3. Fatty Meats And Dairy Products
When you’re on a diet to cut down belly fat, you need to look at all the sources of fat in your diet. Though meat and dairy products can be a great source of nutrients and protein, you need to exercise caution. High-fat meats and dairy products contain high levels of saturated fat which can add to your belly size.
It’s best to avoid meat and dairy products such as organ meats, lamb, pork sausage, bacon, fatty steaks, whole milk, high-fat cheeses, and butter. You also need to say goodbye to bacon and buffalo wings as fried meats and meats prepared in high-fat sauces contain even higher amounts of saturated fat. The right way to go about it is to opt for lean cuts and include more protein-rich options, such as fish, lean poultry, beans and low-fat dairy products.
4. Cut Sugary Foods And Drinks
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Yet, the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons every day. That translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person. Added sugars, such as cane sugar, corn syrup, and honey add empty calories and hardly any nutrients to your foods.
Harvard Health Publications recommends avoiding fructose-sweetened beverages such as orange juice and soft drinks. Having natural fructose by eating fresh fruits is not known to cause harm but juices and soft drinks contain fructose in much higher levels. This offsets your body’s natural blood sugar control systems while promoting weight gain in your abdominal area. Basically, cut down on anything that has added sugar if you want to lose belly fat.