Getting soft around the middle is one of those “rites of passage” which we’re all doomed to experience, but would do just about anything to avoid.
You know, like when you were in your teens and had to suffer through raging hormones and acne. Or in your 50s when hormones turned everything upside down again.
In fact, for many folks it’s around that age that stubborn belly fat first sets up camp, refusing to budge. And then year after year, your waistband size keeps creeping up despite your attempts to eat right and exercise.
Drop these 8 muffin top foods to shrink belly fat
It’s frustrating. I get it. But don’t beat yourself up. Or give up and throw in the towel. Because it turns out losing that belly fat could be far easier than you ever imagined.
Any one of the following eight easy-to-make eating mistakes could be the REAL cause behind your growing belly.
Make a few easy tweaks to your shopping list. And before long, your belly fat may be melting away like a Popsicle on a sidewalk in July.
1. Bran muffins:
You likely feel good about choosing a bran muffin for breakfast. After all, you’re eating healthy bran fiber so you’ve made a good choice. Right?
Not so fast. Unfortunately, most breakfast muffins contain little more than a dusting of bran. In fact, chances are the bulk of that muffin is enriched flours, which send your blood sugar soaring and your belly ballooning.
Plus that so-called “healthy” bran muffin probably clocks in at around 500 calories, and is loaded with a ton of belly-fat-building hidden sugars.
2. Diet soda:
It’s been years since your last sugary soda, and that’s great. Keep up the good work. But if you’re still drinking diet sodas, that’s bad news for your health, and your belly.
Research has revealed the more diet soda you drink the bigger your belly is likely to get. And folks who drink diet sodas tend to have significantly more belly fat than people who don’t.
You see although artificial sweeteners like aspartame are calorie free they’re not free from having effects on your body. Aspartame is associated with an increase in blood glucose levels.
But unlike sugar, aspartame doesn’t raise blood sugar directly. Instead, the sweetener does a number on your belly bugs knocking your gut flora out of balance. And when your blood sugar levels get too high for your liver to manage the excess sugar is stored as fat.
University of Texas researchers found that diet soda drinkers had a shocking 70 percent jump in their waist size over 10 years compared to folks who turned their noses up at the stuff.
Folks who downed two or more diet sodas a day had a staggering 500 percent greater jump in their waist size than their peers who didn’t drink any diet soda.
Soy has gained an undeserved reputation for being a health food. And it’s often compared to truly healthy plant proteins, such as nuts.
As a result, many folks have taken to drinking soymilk and eating a ton of tofu. And that can be bad news for their waistlines. Because let’s face it. There’s a reason the soy industry pushes soy-based feed to fatten up factory farm animals. It works.
Soy is loaded with plant estrogens that can wreak havoc on our own hormones. Phytoestrogens aren’t identical to our own estrogens, of course. But they’re close enough to be an endocrine disruptor and confuse your body.
Even worse for your expanding belly is that soy contains goitrogens which can block the production of critical thyroid hormones and interrupt iodine metabolism.
The result? A poorly functioning thyroid and ultimately packing on pounds that are almost impossible to get rid of.
4. Fruit juice:
Fresh fruit is a staple of a healthy diet. But fruit juice is a different story. Even 100 percent, fresh-squeezed juices can contribute to belly fat.
The reason why is simple, they’re packed with sugar.
But not just any sugar. Fruit juice is loaded with fructose, the kind of sugar that specifically contributes to belly fat. And without any of the healthy fiber you would be getting in the whole fruit to help balance things out, that sugar sends your blood sugar soaring and then crashing.
Skip the juice, eat the fruit.
5. Spaghetti sauce:
Prepackaged jarred spaghetti sauce is convenient. But it comes at a steep cost.
Most store-bought pasta sauces aren’t just lackluster when it comes to taste; they’re often loaded up with added sugar too. The added sugar doesn’t do much to improve the taste. And even worse, it contributes to belly fat.
Make your own homemade sauce instead. It isn’t nearly as tough as you think. Sauté some garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent. Chop up your fresh tomatoes and add them, along with some fresh spices such as basil, oregano and thyme.
Sprinkle in some Himalayan sea salt and simmer for a couple of hours. Some chefs like to add a few chopped carrots towards the end to soften the acidity of the sauce.
6. Instant oatmeal:
Most folks choose oatmeal for breakfast because they’re convinced it’s good for them. But while oatmeal does provide healthy fiber, the instant oatmeal that most folks eat is essentially an empty carb.
The super processed cereal is high on the glycemic index, which means it causes your blood sugar to spike and your body to pump out insulin. And if you’re eating packets of instant flavored oatmeal, you’re scarfing down a bunch of added sugar too.
The inevitable blood sugar crash leaves you feeling hungry. So you snack and eat a bigger lunch than you would have had you chosen a healthy protein for breakfast instead. Adding to your belly fat woes. And eventually leading to insulin resistance and more weight gain.
If you want to occasionally have oatmeal for breakfast, go right ahead. Just dump the instant oats and choose organic steel cut instead.
Surprised? Most folks are. Because everyone knows that fatty fish, such as salmon, is great for you. It’s an excellent source of protein and omega-3s.
But a belly fat problem can bubble up when you eat a lot of farmed salmon instead of wild caught. Farmed salmon tends to be far lower in fat-burning omega-3s, but have sky high levels of inflammatory, belly-building omega-6 fatty acids.
8. Low fat or skim milk:
We’ve been brainwashed to believe low fat milk and dairy products are a great way to lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s just not true. In fact, low-fat milk drinkers are more likely to be overweight than their peers who indulge in full-fat milk
It may seem strange since skim milk has fewer calories than whole milk. But the glycemic index explains why. Despite being fat free and lower in calories, skim milk is higher on the glycemic index than whole milk.
In other words, it has a bigger effect on your blood sugar and as a result your belly fat. Skip the skim and use whole-fat instead.
While eating too much of any food can cause you to gain weight, if you’re regularly making one (or all) of these eight food flubs you could be accidentally building belly fat.
3 more belly fat builders to avoid
But what if you’re NOT eating any of these, and you STILL aren’t losing that stubborn belly fat?
Well while these eight foods are some of the worst culprits when it comes to building belly fat, there are some other mistakes many of us make the can cause us to pack on pounds and have a hard time losing them.
Sitting too long:
Sitting has been called this generation’s smoking. And for good reason. Sitting too long can contribute to an endless list of health problems from heart disease to diabetes.
And of course sitting is bad news for your belly too. See, standing alone can burn up to 50 calories more than sitting. Stand an extra 3 hours every day and you can burn almost 8 pounds of fat in a year – just by standing up.
Skimping on shuteye:
It might seem like being active is what will help vanquish belly fat, but sleep is just as important. When you sleep your body resets itself kind of like a reboot and defrag on your computer.
But sleep does more than that, too. When you’re asleep, your body produces hormones that help burn fat, including belly fat. So make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of shuteye every night.
Everybody is stressed these days, but chronic, ongoing stress causes your body to hold onto belly fat.
Work out, meditate, or take a hot bath. The key is to actually destress, not just appear calm on the outside. Figure out whatever helps you really relax and then make it a priority.