Mention “carbs” and the word is bound to create a buzz. The reality is that not all carbs are bad, though. Aviva Romm, MD, an integrative women’s health specialist based in Western Massachusetts with an interest in food, herbs, and mind-body practices, says that complex carbs like sweet potatoes, squash, and brown rice —so long as they’re not eaten in excess—are beneficial in keeping belly fat down. “The real problem,” she says, “is when you eat simple carbs – things like processed flour products such as white bread or white rice.” Dr. Romm explains that unlike complex carbs, which makes good use of energy and blood sugar levels, simple carbs cause sugar and insulin spikes. Eating these foods regularly for long periods of time may lead to obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and more.
Found in: Bagels, white rice, white pasta, white breads, donuts, muffins.
Three types of dietary fat are linked to inflammation and thus contribute to excess belly fat: Trans fats, saturated fats, and omega-6 fats. Besides belly troubles, they may cause other issues as well. For example, experts at the Mayo Clinic explain that trans-fats, commonly found in baked goods and fried foods, can increase your risk of heart disease. Dr. Romm says that good quality fats like olive oil (which she says is one of the best sources) and avocado are ideal. These fats, she explains, are not only beneficial for healthy cellular function but play a role in keeping you from overeating.
Found in: Packaged foods (trans fats); processed and high-fat cuts of meat, full-fat dairy, some candy (saturated fat); corn oil, grape-seed oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil (omega-6 fats).