Everyone stores fat differently. Some people are heavy around the hips and lower body (often called pear-shaped), others around the waist and upper body (apple-shaped), and many people’s fat is spread evenly between their upper and lower body. What category do you fall in?
If you’re more of an apple, you tend to pack the extra pounds around your belly. Unfortunately, this is considered the most dangerous place to gain weight. Here, abdominal fat surrounds your vital internal organs where it produces toxins that increase inflammation and your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and even certain cancers.
If you’re a woman and your waist measures greater than 35 inches or if you’re a man who’s waist is bigger than 40 inches, your health is at risk. Cut out these wrong foods and get regular exercise to reduce your amount of belly fat and your risk of dangerous health conditions.
Surprisingly, where you tend to store fat may depend on what kinds of foods you eat, as some foods are known to go straight to your belly. These are the most common culprits that you’ll want to limit or avoid altogether.
It’s made of fruit, so it’s got to be good for you, right? In small amounts, maybe, but more than a small glass of the sweet stuff and you’re in trouble. Juice contains none of the healthy fiber of fresh fruit but is full of pure fruit sugars. These sugars likely to hang out around your middle.
Diet or not, sweetened carbonated drinks are not good for you or your waistline. Many dieters make the mistake of thinking diet soda will help them lose weight. They’re wrong! These zero-calorie drinks are linked to belly fat, weight gain, and diabetes. Most likely, this link is due to the fact that diet sodas slow the metabolism, tell the body to store fat for later, and increase your appetite.
Regular soda, on the other hand, is extremely high in empty calories and added sugars that send your blood sugar levels rocketing. Expect belly fat if you regularly drink soda of any kind.
There are good carbs—whole grains, beans, and fruit—and there are bad ones—pastas, cereals, breads, snacks, and crackers made from refined white flour. These refined carbs are low in fiber and high in sugar, causing a spike in your blood sugar, triggering inflammation, and telling fat to be stored around your middle. Keeping them at bay will go a long way toward protecting your belly from bulge.
“Beer belly” is a phrase used to nickname men who are heavy drinkers with a big belly. What is it about alcohol that leads to abdominal weight gain? First, beer is high in calories and fat. Second, alcohol increases your appetite by decreasing the hormones that signal when you’re full. Third, alcohol lowers your inhibitions and affects your ability to make wise food choices. And lastly, your liver goes into overtime as it works to burn off alcohol, leaving little time to burn off fat. Have more than one or two drinks a day and you’re really setting yourself up for the bulge.
While all fats used to be under fire, now it’s known that some fats are actually good for you. There are three, however, that aren’t: trans, saturated, and omega-6. These fats cause inflammation in your body and cause fat to build up around your waistline. You’ll find trans fats in packaged, processed snack foods; saturated fats in animal products such as full-fat dairy and fatty meats; and omega-6 fats in a variety of oils—soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, and grape-seed.