How to lose belly fat? Simple, cut the C-R-A-P (cocktails, refined foods, additives, and preservatives). Yup, that’s right cut out added sugars or sweeteners, greasy fried foods, and processed goods if you want to help that belly (and everything else) shrink, and more importantly, achieve improved health. Wondering what exactly falls in that category? No worries, We’ve compiled a list of foods – both to avoid and to eat – to get a flatter stomach while helping you on your way towards healthy, sustainable eating habits.
Some people suffer from lactose intolerance without knowing it. Whether you have a mild or severe case of this affliction, you’ll notice the symptoms are similar: gas and bloat. Swap out cow’s milk for lactose-free or nut milk alternatives and try to limit how much cheese and yogurt you consume – your tummy might thank you through better digestion and the loss of stubborn belly fat.
2. Potato chips
One step that will most likely help you shed unwanted weight around your belly is cutting out unhealthy snacking, especially on salty potato chips. Not only are salty snacks like chips loaded with highly unhealthy hydrogenated oils – which contribute to increased cholesterol and heart disease – they’re also packed with sodium, which will have your body holding onto water weight.
If you’re already mindful of what you eat, double check that you’re also aware of what you drink. Sugary beverages like soda contribute to increased belly fat, and drinking added sugar can contribute to poor health and hinder any weight loss attempt. Opt for good ol’ fashioned water as your beverage of choice if you want to achieve a flat stomach and avoid sugar crashes.
4. Baked goods
If you’re aiming to lose belly fat, then you’ll most definitely want to eliminate processed baked goods from your diet. Such sweet indulgences may be a convenient and delicious snack, but these high-carb foods are packed with refined sugars and preservatives. Baked goods are also low on nutritional content, so if you choose them over a more nutritious option, you’re not fueling your body or your goals.
5. Fried foods
From french fries to chicken, if it’s fried, it’s probably not doing your body any favors – inside or out. Greasy fast foods may be a delicious indulgence, but they can contribute to weight gain and the unhealthy cholesterol levels, which can eventually clog your arteries over time. This one is essential not just for a flat tummy, but for your lifelong health.
6. Processed carbohydrates
If you want to say bye-bye to the belly, then you may want to cut down on refined carbohydrates like white bread, rice, and pasta and choose fiber-rich whole grain options instead, or opt for a high-protein, low-carb nutritional plan.
7. Sweeteners and added sugar
These tasty tricksters might make you feel good for a moment, but leave you zapped of energy and craving more the next. Refined sweeteners and added sugars wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, which eventually leads to the accumulation of fat around your belly and elsewhere. Consider ditching added sugars entirely, or if you can’t go cold turkey, then swap them out for natural sweeteners like real maple syrup or honey — but in moderation. Also, make sure to read ingredient lists on packaged foods, as added sugar is hidden in a lot of seemingly ‘healthy’ products.
Sugar’s equally problematic cousin, alcohol is something to be consumed at a minimum, if at all, when you’re working to make your health a priority. Drinking can lead to dehydration and water retention, and as we discussed earlier, water-weight can leave you feeling bloated and puffy. Also, cocktails are usually brimming with sugary fruit juices and syrups that will send your blood sugar levels rocketing. Beers (even light beers) are heavy in calories but low in nutritional value, and will not help you in getting closer to getting a flat stomach or better overall health.
Healthy foods that cause bloat
Sometimes it’s not just the unhealthy foods that contribute to bloating around the middle. Certain healthy foods like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and beans can leave some people feeling uncomfortably bloated too because of their high fiber content.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your gut health, reduce bloating and strengthen digestion — all of which will bring you closer to a flat stomach you’ve been working toward. 8fit’s nutritionists recommend adding fermented foods to your diet, such as kimchi, sauerkraut or kombucha (unsweetened, of course), as they are bacteria-boosting and can help improve digestion.
If those seem a bit out of your wheelhouse, you can also support your digestive system by eating oats; the prebiotics in oats feed the good bacteria in your belly too.
Tried these dietary additions and still seem to be experiencing that uncomfortable bloat? Try keeping a food journal to track everything you’re eating and how you feel after eating certain foods for a minimum of two weeks – and keep in mind that it can take 72 hours for your body to experience a reaction to foods. It’s also useful to monitor whether or not you’re drinking enough water, as being hydrated enough plays a vital role in that quest for a flat stomach and will support losing belly fat.
Overall health is most important
There are a number of reasons why you might have trouble getting that flat tummy (e.g., stress, menstruation, lack of sleep, etc.). Do you best to avoid certain unhealthy foods like the ones listed above and be mindful of the healthy foods that cause bloating. Most importantly though, don’t fixate on your belly. Instead, change your mindset and focus on how you feel. Do you feel energized? Do you feel strong? Do you feel stress-free and happy? We know it’s hard, but recognize that those are the important components of a healthy lifestyle.