Beer belly. Love handles. Fat.
Whatever you want to call it, excess weight around your middle can be the most difficult weight on your body to lose.
It is also more dangerous to your health than those extra pounds that accumulate on your hips or thighs.
The fat around your belly is an outward sign of deep, internal fat surrounding your organs. Fat in this area causes an increase of hormones that raise blood pressure and increase bad cholesterol, putting you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
Belly fat has also been associated with an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and metabolic syndrome. What’s to blame for belly fat? Stress, age, poor lifestyle choices, and genetics play a role—but so does your diet.
Here’s what not to eat and what to eat if you want to banish belly fat.
It is fair to say that weight gain around your waistline and anywhere else on your body is caused by the consumption of too many calories. That being said, there do seem to be certain foods and drinks especially associated with an increase of fat cells in the abdominal area.
While you may use it playfully, the phrase “beer belly” is an accurate description of what goes on when you down too much alcohol. Drinking too much may make it difficult to fasten your jeans. Why does this happen? When you drink alcohol, your liver goes into overdrive to burn it off instead of working to burn off the high-fat content. Alcohol can also make you hungrier, causing you to consume more calories than normal.
Foods containing trans fat are another contributing factor to a large waist. Trans fat is a manmade fat created with partially hydrogenated oil. This unnatural fat leads to belly fat and moves fat from other parts of the body to the abdominal area. Where can you find trans fat in your diet? Cookies, crackers, pastries, potato chips, margarine, fried foods, and packaged foods all have this unwanted intruder.
Sugar-sweetened beverages and sodas are other possible culprits for belly fat. The empty calories and high amount of high-fructose corn syrup (a manmade sweetener) cause abnormal weight gain in the midsection. High-fructose corn syrup is also found in foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, jam, canned fruits, yogurt, bread, and even fruit juice.
Finally, refined, low-fiber grains are also responsible for belly fat. To avoid these, skip foods such as white rice, white bread, and sugary cereals.
Whittling your waistline starts with a low-calorie, well-balanced diet and regular exercise. A recipe for a flat belly starts with a diet rich in fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meat. Moving toward a slimmer waistline also requires you to move away from the fatty foods and drinks listed above.
A truly flat belly comes from a combination of a consistent, challenging exercise routine coupled with clean eating.