Trying to lose that extra belly fat? Many people, even those who’ve had success losing weight with diet and exercise, have that nagging muffin top that just won’t seem to go away. If a slimmer waistline is what you’re aiming for, stick with your diet and exercise, but amp up your focus on trimming belly fat by steering clear of these particular foods.
Don’t make the mistake of skipping breakfast – it’s an important meal that kick starts your metabolism for the day and helps curb hunger throughout the day. Just make sure you avoid these belly fat-inducing breakfast foods:
- Pancakes: Pancakes are a classic breakfast staple, but unfortunately they contain high amounts of calories and fat which can be difficult for your body to burn off over the course of the day. The added sugary syrup makes it even unhealthier for you. A healthier alternative is whole wheat waffles topped with fruit.
- Stick margarine: Often used for pancakes, waffles, toast and other breakfast items, stick margarine is a poor choice if you want to trim your waistline. One tablespoon contains 100 calories, plus it’s loaded with trans fat that’s associated with weight gain, high cholesterol and blood clotting. Whipped butter is a better option since it has more air in it and therefore less calories and fat.
- Bagels: Bagels are made with refined wheat flour. This type of flour offers all of the calories without any of the fiber and nutrients of unrefined flour. You might switch out toast for bread thinking they’re equal bread products, but bagels are much denser than other bread products. If you’re craving carbs in the morning, try whole-grain English muffins or bread. (Also read: Healthy & Tasty Low-Carb Snacks.)
Most people need a snack or two to get through the day. Make sure you choose healthy options and avoid these foods which are especially bad for your waistline:
- Potato chips: The hydrogenated oils in which potato chips are cooked are actually trans fat that leads to weight gain. If you have to have chips, it’s better to choose baked ones that are cooked in oils. However, watch your portion size and try to find chips with a lower calorie count.
- Popcorn: Popcorn you get at the movie theater is cooked in high amounts of coconut oil, which is over 90 percent saturated fat. In addition, the large portion sizes can lead to excessive calorie intake (think 1,200 calories in one sitting, and that’s just for a medium size bucket). Adding butter topping just makes it even worse for you. To cut down on your waistline, try air-popped popcorn. You control how much butter and salt you add to make sure it’s a healthy snack.
Whether you eat out for lunch or eat something from home, it’s important to watch what you eat for this meal. Here are a few of the worst things you can eat for lunch if you’re trying to lose belly fat:
- Hot dogs: In addition to being an unhealthy processed meat, hot dogs also contain a significant amount of calories and saturated fat. Plus, eating hot dogs regularly has even been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer and heart disease. If you want something similar, eat lean chicken or turkey sausages instead.
- Fast-food salads: Think you’re being healthy by choosing that salad at McDonald’s or Wendy’s? Unfortunately, some of these salads are just as bad for you as the greasy cheeseburgers. Most of it has to do with the dressing, which can sometimes contain dozens of grams of fat in a single serving. But other toppings – like bacon and cheese – can also contribute to an unhealthy meal. If possible, try something like a veggie-filled flatbread sandwich.
You’ll want something filling for dinner, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. Stay away from these waistline-expanding dinner pitfalls:
- Pizza: Deep dish pizza is one of the worst dinners for getting a smaller waistline. The extra thick, dense crust contains way too many carbs and calories for one meal. Plus, all the whole-milk cheese and oily toppings can contribute to an even bigger belly bulge. Two slices could contain as much as 1,300 calories and 24 grams of saturated fat. Make your own thin crust pies at home with healthy toppings if you’re craving some pizza.
- Chicken wings: Certain types of chicken wings can be especially bad for you. The kind you should look out for are the ones that are fried and/or are coated in a certain topping, like a sweet and spicy sauce. Both contain too much fat, and the sauces often have an excessively high sodium content. For a healthy dinner, get grilled chicken instead.
When you’re dieting, it’s easy to fixate on which foods you’re eating and ignore what you drink. Most people underestimate the effect that drinks can have on their belly fat. Check out which drinks are especially damaging if you’re trying to trim your waistline.
- Soda: Soda is notorious for adding empty calories that lead directly to excess in your midsection. The especially dangerous part about soda is the high sugar levels. High fructose corn syrup and other additives make for sweet sodas but they also add more sugar to your diet than your body can easily burn off. Even diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that are bad for your health.
- Milk: Many people who grew up with whole milk love the taste and continue to drink it well into their adult years, thinking the extra calcium and nutrients are good for them. However, adults don’t need whole milk unless they have trouble gaining weight. That’s because whole milk contains a whopping 9 grams of fat. Even low-fat and 2 percent milk have more fat and calories than you need. Stick to skim or 1 percent milk instead.
- Coffee drinks: Just because recent studies have said coffee isn’t all that bad for you doesn’t mean you can splurge on special coffee drinks from the local café or Starbucks. Any drink drizzled with chocolate and caramel or topped with wads of whipped cream should be avoided. Having black coffee instead for a healthier pick-me-up.
Avoid this high-calorie, high-fat traps if you’re hoping to slim your waistline. Saturated fat is especially bad for belly fat, so start paying attention to food labels and plan out your meals to help you make healthy decisions.
(Also read: 5 Exercises To Help You Get 6 Pack Abs.)