You’ve heard it before “These donuts are going straight to my hips”, “This fried chicken will go right to my thighs”. There are foods that seem to hit us in certain places. And something we get many questions about is: what am I eating that causes an increase in belly fat (and why does it keep happening)?

The short answer to why some of us tend to increase belly fat quicker is deep fat tissue. Basically, different bodies have different hormonal reactions to different foods. For some, eating the foods listed in this post don’t have any ill-effects for weight gain. But for many, the hormonal reactions caused by consuming and processing these foods affects your “gut” negatively, and makes it easier to form and retain deep fat tissue. Here are 6 foods we suggest limiting, and some alternatives to help when the cravings hit.

Fruit Juice:

Although fruit juice has many health benefits, it can have as much has 36 grams of fructose (a sugar) per 8oz serving. Fructose is associated with the buildup of visceral adipose tissue (aka belly fat).

Got a craving? Try fresh water with sliced fruit instead. This has much less sugar per serving than the same amount of juice, and leaving the peel on gives you the added benefits of d-limonene (a compound that promotes the release of fat stores), and tons of antioxidants.

Fries:

Ok. You knew fries were unhealthy. But did you know they can be responsible for up to 15 pounds of weight gain in a 4 year period (according to Harvard study)? Yikes. It’s the frying–not the potatoes–that are the culprit. There are plenty of other delicious–and far healthier ways to satisfy your spud cravings.

Dying for fries? Try this. Slice a sweet potato into strips (lengthwise) and spray it with a healthy cooking spray (we suggest coconut or grape seed oil). Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and your other favorite herbs and seasonings and bake at 350 until they’re crispy. There you have it: fries–without the frying!

Potato Chips:

if there’s an even worse way (for your health) to consume fried potatoes than fries, it’s probably potato chips. Don’t let their smaller size–or the fact that they’re thinner than fries–fool you. They’re packed with saturated fat, covered in salt, and high calorie. And as we all know, you can’t eat just one. We suggest a more satisfying snack, so “just one handful” doesn’t turn into “just one bag”.

Want some chips? We suggest this: We recommend Beanitos to our clients who have a hard time giving up chips. They’re made from a savory blend of navy beans, brown rice, oils and spices. You can also try quinoa chips, which are high in protein; or fruit and veggie chips, if you want to change it up flavor-wise. Don’t worry about “missing out” on potato chips, there are plenty of healthy, delicious alternatives.

Diet Soda:

Don’t be hoodwinked. Just because it says “Diet” on the label does not make it good for you (and that includes your favorite fizzy drinks). Recent studies have shown a relationship between the consumption of diet sodas and a larger waist size, and more fat concentrated in their abdominal area. Researches believe these links are because people who drink diet sodas regularly overestimate how much doing so reduces their calorie intake, and overeat.

We recommend: White Tea. It helps you break down fat cells and release stored fat. When you want the bubbles, try sparkling water, with fruit (peel-on). We recommend using a Sodastream to carbonate your own, or buying LaCroix (it has no additives, and many fun flavors).

Pizza:

The favorite of college students, kids, and–well–pretty much everyone, pizza is also the second biggest contributor of saturated fat to the American diet (just below cheese). One slice of pizza has half of the saturated fat you should be consuming in a day. Why is that bad for the belly? Saturated fat tends to be stored in the stomach more than other fats

Don’t worry. We have an idea: Bruschetta has all the flavor you love in a slice of your favorite pie, and is a lot better for you. Here’s a delicious recipe that’s easy to follow.

Rib-Eye Steak:

This is one of the fattiest cuts of meat, so it’s not a great choice if you want to trim your middle. [The same is true for New York Strip and T-Bone cuts.]

The Good News: A grass-fed, local cut of meat is more likely to be high-protien, low-fat. It costs a little more, but you’re investing in a healthy diet: it’s worth it!

We’ve seen clients who limited these 6 foods trim their belly fat quickly, especially when exercising regularly (and using the healthy alternatives we recommended). So give it a try. Your belly, and your taste buds, will thank you!

 

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