Is the war on belly fat leaving you feeling like you are always in a losing battle? “Belly fat is something you have a lot more control over than you realize,” says Traci D. Mitchell, nationally recognized health and fitness coach, and author of The Belly Burn Plan. “And the foods you should eat are as important as the foods you should avoid when it comes to offloading weight, particularly through your midsection.” Here are Mitchell’s five big food offenders that you should steer clear of to banish belly fat from your body.
Just Eating Egg Whites
Egg whites aren’t inherently bad, but avoiding the healthy fat, vitamins and minerals in egg yolks shortchanges you on all the benefits this food offers. More importantly, when people go out of their way to avoid whole eggs, they often do it to avoid fat. Avoiding fat is probably one of the biggest mistakes someone with belly fat can make. Eating a little more fat helps to regulate blood sugar levels and therefore insulin, both of which, when unruly, are signs that belly fat will be a problem. Instead, eat the whole egg. In fact, eat a couple. Your body and belly will thank you!
Low-Fat Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is another food that in its plain, full-fat form is pretty healthy. But, through the manipulation of chemicals, sugar and an incredible amount of processing, that once-healthy yogurt has become a hotbed of trouble for our bodies. Whether it’s conventional or organic, fruit-flavored yogurt often contains as much as 9 teaspoons of sugar per serving. If the sugar isn’t there, then artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and sucralose, are there to take its place. Just like someone with belly fat needs a little more dietary fat, they also usually need to avoid sugar.
Quick fix: Grab a container of plain yogurt and dress it up with walnuts, cinnamon, chia seeds or fresh berries.
Like low-fat flavored yogurt, many energy bars have anywhere between 4 and 10 teaspoons of sugar per bar—and there is nothing healthy about eating that much. When we eat this much sugar, especially if it isn’t buffered by protein or fat, we end up hungry a short time later. This hunger, usually triggered by a quick rise and fall in blood sugar levels, calls on insulin to help balance things out. In this case, think of insulin as your “fat storage hormone.”
You might think that you’re better off eating a single-serving packet of oats because it will help you control your portions better, but it does you no good if that portion is laden with sugar. Many single-serving packets of oats contain 4 to 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. They’re also pretty low on protein and fat, too.
Mitchell says this is one food category that she has a love/hate relationship with. “I love them when I can make them at home on a warm summer morning, but I hate them when I see people lined up to order a 16 ounce beverage that contains upward of 15 teaspoons of sugar per serving.”
Quick fix: Use ingredients like avocado, spinach, gelatin or chia seeds.
Bottom line: Above all, when it comes to getting rid of belly fat, focus on the quality of what you’re eating. If you’re eating processed or packaged foods often, be aware of added sugar. Finally, don’t be afraid of fat or protein. They help keep you full and keep blood sugar levels on an even keel.