The obvious culprits for excess stomach fat are fried food and sugary items like biscuits and cakes.
But how would you feel if you found out that it’s not only these items that are causing your spare tyre, but also a host of healthy foods as well?
Speaking to FEMAIL, Sydney-based nutritionist and food author Lee Holmes revealed the five surprising foods that are causing your belly fat – and what you should eat instead.
‘Excess belly fat or visceral fat can be a risk factor for type two diabetes and heart disease,’ Lee told FEMAIL.
‘The best method for determining your belly fat culprits is to experiment with trial and error.’
Speaking to FEMAIL, nutritionist and food author Lee Holmes (pictured) revealed the five surprising foods that are causing your belly fat – and what you should eat instead
‘Many common “healthy” snack bars include excess sugars and protein isolate, which is derived from soybeans, a common culprit to excess belly fat and bloat,’ Lee said (stock image)
1. Muesli bars
Breakfast on the go for many means a grabbed muesli bar to fill you up.
But Lee said this could be contributing to excess weight.
‘Many common “healthy” snack bars include excess sugars and protein isolate, which is derived from soybeans, a common culprit to excess belly fat and bloating,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘Observational studies have shown that there is a link between high sugar intake (largely due to the fructose content) and excess belly fat.’
The nutritionist recommends you switch out your muesli bars for avocados, which ‘contain healthy mono-saturated fats, and when consumed can help you to avoid blood sugar spikes that communicate with your body sending the message to store fat around your midsection’.
Try: Avocados with crackers or wholegrain bread.
Processed meat is another food group to steer clear of, if not all the time then as much as possible (stock image)
2. Pro-inflammatory fats from salami, bacon and processed meat
Processed meat is another food group to steer clear of, if not all the time then as much as possible.
‘Examples of pro-inflammatory fats include salami, bacon and other processed meats, corn, soybean and sunflower oils,’ Lee said.
She highlighted that there are three types of dietary fats which are difficult to digest – trans fats, saturated fats and omega-6 fats.
Instead, swap these for ‘good sources of omega-3 fatty acids including flaxseed oil, wild-caught salmon and chia seeds’.
Try: Wild-caught salmon.
‘Fruit juices can contain a large amount of sugar in the form of fructose, even unsweetened fruit juice,’ Lee (pictured) said – she instead recommends herbal or peppermint tea
3. Fruit juice
It’s filled with fruit and therefore can’t be bad for you, right?
But fruit juice is filled with hidden sugars that can contribute to a widening waistline.
‘Fruit juices can contain a large amount of sugar in the form of fructose, even unsweetened fruit juice,’ Lee said.
‘Comparing Coke to apple juice, 250mls of each have the same amount of sugar – 24 grams. The fructose it contains can certainly promote belly fat.’
Instead, Lee recommends you sip on herbal or peppermint tea when you feel as though your waistband has become somewhat snug.
Try: Peppermint tea.
Lee (pictured) said that ‘excess alcohol can contribute to inflammation and excess belly fat around the middle, particularly in men’
A glass of wine here and there might not be all that bad for your waistline.
But Lee said that ‘excess alcohol can contribute to inflammation and excess belly fat around the middle, particularly in men’.
‘It can also slow down fat burning and contains empty calories that contribute to weight gain,’ Lee said.
Instead of booze, keep up your herbal tea quota and also boost your daily vegetables.
‘Items like celery, cucumber, spinach and parsley will help to reduce fluid retention in the body,’ Lee said.
Try: Celery, cucumber, spinach and parsley.
5. Cheese and dairy
In bad news for brie fans, cheese and dairy foods are also difficult for many people to digest.
‘Undigested lactose becomes a food for bad bacteria in the gut and an imbalance of unhealthy bacteria can lead to gain in visceral fat,’ Lee said.
Limit your dairy and cheese consumption, and up your probiotic-rich foods.
‘Things like miso, tamari, sauerkraut if tolerated, organic yoghurt or probiotic capsules will increase your healthy gut flora which in turn will improve positive flora levels in the gut.’
Try: Miso, tamari, sauerkraut, organic yoghurt or probiotic capsules.
For more information about Lee Holmes, please visit her website here.