Getting a flat belly is what most of us aspire for, especially after we’ve delivered a baby. But this isn’t an easy task. You’ll need to be patient and persistent in your endeavor to achieve your target. At times, despite trying everything, you might still not be anywhere close to the desired results. In that case, you’ll need to take a dekko at your diet. Are you eating something that might be the proverbial ‘spoke in the wheel’ of your efforts? So, here’s a list of 5 foods you must avoid at any cost if you are working hard to achieve that flat belly. And no, you don’t need to go on a crash diet for this. Here goes:
1. Instant Noodles
Instant noodles are usually fried before being packed and also contain high amounts of sodium to increase their shelf life. This increases your per-day intake of sodium drastically. High level of sodium is strongly linked to obesity and weight gain (1). Since instant noodles are easily available, cheap, and easy to cook, they have gained tremendous popularity as an instant meal. However, not only do they increase your paunch, their high sodium content is a major health hazard across the world (2). So, before you open that packet of noodles to make your 2-minute meal, do give it a thought if it really is worth it.
Alternatives: Whole grain pasta or spaghetti which requires longer cooking time.
2. Potato Chips
The sodium level in unprocessed, whole potatoes is very less. However, processed potatoes like potato chips and French fries are likely to be high in salt, acrylamides, and fat (3). According to a study conducted by a group at the Harvard School of Public Health, potato chips topped the list of foods that caused weight gain among healthy, non-obese participants. They also found that apart from the fried variety, even the baked ones were equally harmful. Why? Because baked potatoes quickly raise the levels of insulin and blood sugar just like the calories from table sugar do (4).
Alternatives: Kale or hummus chips
3. Processed Frozen Meats
The Harvard group study also listed processed meats as another food item that increases weight (5). Meats usually contain enough fat on their own. However, as is the rule with most processed foods, processed meats also contain excessive salts and additives. This can easily cause your stomach to bloat, making it difficult for you to lose belly fat.
Alternatives: Fresh chicken or turkey which can be used in salads as well.
4. Ready-Made Salad Dressings
You’ve just made a fresh vegetable and lettuce salad – great! Next, you add a dash of the ‘healthy’ salad dressing that you got from the store nearby – nay! Store-bought salad dressings, again, contain extra sodium, saturated fats, and even sugar to increase their shelf life. They take away all the ‘healthy’ aspect of your salad (6). This might be detrimental for you when planning to lose belly fat. So, steer clear of these.
Alternatives: Use natural salad dressings like freshly-ground pepper, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and Italian seasonings.
5. White Bread
Bread has been our go-to diet for ages. It comes in handy, especially during the morning rush. But no matter how healthy a sandwich recipe it might be, make sure you are using the right bread. A couple of scientific studies have been conducted to find a link between the consumption of bread and belly fat. The researchers found that there was an increase in body weight and belly fat when the participants ate white bread. However, there was a marked decline in belly fat and body weight when they switched to whole grain bread (7). White bread is made with refined flour which is produced by stripping the grains of their fiber. It might enhance the taste but has low nutritional value.
Alternatives: Whole grain bread.
We’re sure you were not very much aware that those innocent-looking, regular foods and snacks you were munching on were actually increasing your belly fat. But now that you do, strictly avoid them and go for the alternatives mentioned here. With a better diet and regular exercise, we’re sure you’ll reach your target flat belly in no time. Good luck!