Salt in any form is a major culprit for belly fat, mostly because it causes your body to retain lots of water, which leads to bloating and weight gain. In fact, a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2019 explains that bloating is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints—and sodium is likely to blame. Among the 412 participants in the study, it was found that “higher dietary sodium increased bloating, as did the high-fiber DASH diet.” The study explains that high-fiber diets may increase bloating; however, this could be due to dietary sodium intake. Decreasing sodium, therefore, may help. Furthermore, salty snacks like potato chips and cheese puffs also contain lots of hydrogenated oils. Translation: hydrogenated oils are bad fats.
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.