No matter how hard or long you work out in the gym, poor diet will make your fitness and health goals hard to reach. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter explains that trans fatty acids and fructose-based sweeteners are the worst villains when it comes to fat accumulation around the abdominal region -- that is, belly fat. Belly fat usually consists of visceral fat, which lies between the abdominal organs and is more dangerous and biologically active than other types of body fat. To safeguard your health and keep a trim waistline, avoid these three dietary baddies.
Fatty Baked Goods
Commercial baked goods are the number one source of trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the average American's diet, states the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. This includes most of the doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes, pies, pastries and cakes that you buy in grocery stores and restaurants. The icing that tops these treats is often made with vegetable shortening, which is also full of trans fatty acids. These low-quality snacks are full of empty calories that will widen your waistline. Check nutritional information carefully before purchasing baked goods, or bake your own healthy, low-fat versions at home.
Stick margarine, once thought to be a more healthful alternative to butter, is full of trans fatty acids that can add inches to your waistline. Typical stick margarine has 3 grams of trans fat per serving. This is drastically more than butter and tub margarine, which have less than half a gram of trans fat per serving. Cooking with margarine or eating fast food cooked on a grill slathered with margarine is bad for your health and waistline. Instead, choose foods prepared with olive oil, canola oil or grapeseed oil, which are sources of healthful unsaturated fats.
Regular soda is an abundant source of high fructose corn syrup that can significantly add inches to your waistline. According to researchers at the Princeton University Psychology Department, high fructose corn syrup significantly encourages the storage of belly fat on your body when compared to regular and other forms of sugar. Most regular soda for sale in the United States is sweetened primarily with high fructose corn syrup. Substitute diet soda in moderate amounts for regular soda -- or better yet, choose soda water with a twist of lemon.
Read Your Labels
Since 2006, all packaged foods must list trans fat content over half a gram on the Nutrition Facts label. Also keep an eye open for the term "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on ingredients lists, as this oil is the most common type of trans fat in processed foods. Check ingredients lists for high fructose corn syrup, too. These ingredients can show up in foods you may be consuming on a regular basis. For example, high fructose corn syrup is common in sweetened yogurt and bread. And while fast-food chains have significantly cut down on the amount of trans fat in their foods in recent years, you should still check individual establishments’ nutrition facts for trans fat content if you eat out often.
- Harvard Medical School: Taking An Aim At Belly Fat
- University of Kentucky: Trans Fats
- Ohio State University: Heart Healthy Diet: Low Fat, Low Cholesterol, Low Sodium Diet
- New York University: Trans Fats: the Bad Fat in Town
- Princeton University: A Sweet Problem (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
- Science Daily: Fast Food Chains Have Significantly Decreased Trans Fats in Cooking Oils, Study Finds
- USDA: Trans Fat on the Nutrition Label
- Media Bank/Photos.com/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.