Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat

Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat

​​Is Belly Fat Caused by ​Healthy Foods?

What’s your waist-to-hip ratio?

We often see this number thrown about in relation to what ratio is most attractive to the opposite sex.

But it’s relevant for a much more important reason.

Even if you’re not overweight, collecting more weight around your middle can spell trouble.

In general, a thicker waist can indicate a higher risk of heart disease, among other illnesses.

Health organizations recommend that a woman’s waist size should remain under 35 inches for better health and longevity.

Meanwhile, men should remain under 40 inches.

Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat

​As for the waist-to-hip ratio, women should strive to keep it below .85, while men should be under .9.


You can calculate your ratio here.

Bottom line: fat is more dangerous when it’s stored on our midsection. Unfortunately, our modern diet has plenty of ways to work that fat into where it’s most harmful.


...let’s learn what surprising (and not-so-surprising) foods contribute to our ever-expanding waistlines and what we can do about it.

​ ​The Usual Suspects: Ingredients That Destroy Your Waistline Hence: Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat

Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat
excessive belly fat

First up... 

...let’s see what “progress” hath wrought on our bellies.

Hint​...’s made us plumper, not healthier. 

​These ingredients are cheap, make products tastier and are a slam-dunk for those with a vested interest in keeping us sick.

Moreover, foods we consider healthy actually get away with including them!

High Fructose Corn Syrup

At first glance, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn’t so different from regular sugar. It has the same kind of sweetness and is similar in caloric content.

The problem? 

Ask a doctor. 

The physician Mark Hyman recalls a quote from another doctor, Paracelsus, when discussing HFCS.  “The dose makes the poison.” 

​At this stage, the amount of HFCS the average American consumes - often unknowingly - is out of control.

When you buy something sweet, it’s increasingly laced not with regular sugar, but HFCS.

If you don’t look at the label, you won’t even notice the difference.

I’ve mentioned this before, but HFCS’s structure allows sugar to hit your blood and organs faster than regular sugar. 

And time and time again, studies demonstrate that HFCS makes us gain weight more than regular sugar.

It can be difficult to eliminate, as an estimated 40% of foods produced with a sweetener use HFCS.

But if you want to get rid of belly fat, it’s essential to read labels and limit or avoid it. 

Where it’s hiding​?

​If you lay off the soda and cookies, you’re good, right?

cookies cause belly fat


Yogurt, salad dressing, cereal, juice, applesauce, protein bars and more can contain HFCS.

Even if it says “natural” or something to the effect of “healthy” on the packaging. 

​Trans Fats​​​​

​You’ll find trans fats in items that contain partially hydrogenated oils.

Trans fats are an excellent example of how things can go wrong even when you have the best intentions.

For many years, the ill effects of trans fats were largely unknown.

trans fats, calories, sugar

The founder of trans fats, Wilhelm Normann, actually made food more accessible when he created them over 100 years ago.

Partially hydrogenated oils made foods last longer, and it was cheaper than animal-sourced lard and tallow.

However, the truth is that trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils are among the very worst modern inventions.

This isn’t just opinion​.

​Even the FDA has plans to “phase” it out of our food supply by next year. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long.


​Because it causes heart attacks, plain and simple.

The Harvard School of Public Health estimates that eliminating trans fats can prevent 1 in 5 heart attack deaths!

In the United States, that’s 250,000 lives per year.

In a world full of conflicting info, it’s pretty tough to spin that in the other direction.

Other studies show us that trans fats just cause more death overall.

Goodbye, trans fats!

Where ​is it​​​​​ hiding?

Believe it or not, with everything we know, trans fats are still around for now.

It’s just that they’re often present in such small quantities, manufacturers don’t have to tell you.

Just like Paracelsus said, "it’s the dose".

Trans fats are still lurking inside of certain brands of peanut butter.

It’s also available in granola bars, snack crackers, margarine, baked goods, and microwave popcorn.

​Refined grain

Many who want to thwart belly fat skip out on carbs, like bread and pasta.

But those who don’t want to, don’t have to!

Processed, refined grains in bread and pasta can contribute to obesity.

Whole grains? Not so much.

bread belly fat

Refined grains are devoid of nutrition; they’re bleached and treated with potentially harmful chemicals.

They are shown to make our waists thicker, hence; increasing our risk for heart disease.

But most troubling is the fact that we eat tons of these stripped, bleached grains anyway.

A report released by the USDA in 2007 states that 93% of us don’t eat the recommended amount of whole grains daily. We opt instead for the bad stuff. 

​I’m sure this has changed in the last 10 years, but 93%? That’s a high hill to climb.

Where it’s hiding?

The bad news is, eating whole grains won’t negate the negative effects of eating refined grains.

That’s why it’s super unfortunate that loaves of bread with labels saying “whole wheat” are not what they seem.

They add-in a bit of whole grain to back up the label, but it’s still partially to majority refined.

The same goes for cereals that market themselves as “healthy” or push the inclusion of bran and whole grains.

They are fooling us by sprinkling 10% of what we need on top of 90% of what we don’t need.

Labels should tell you that the product inside is 100% whole grain, or it doesn’t count.

Refined grains are also found in instant oatmeal, white rice and snacking pretzels.

These don’t contribute the fiber we need and make our blood sugar rise much more abruptly.

​Sneaky, Sneaky: “Healthy” Options That Increase Belly Fat 

​If you’re staying away from HFCS, trans fats and refined grains, you’re on the fast track to a slimmer waist.

This is important...

​...there are a few landmines in the dieting landscape that can trip you up.

Here are five big ones:

1. Diet Soda

diet soda belly fat

I know most of us don’t drink soda.

Still, even an occasional diet soda is bad news for your belly.

We know the HFCS in regular soda isn’t good for us and has more calories. Yet artificial sweeteners don’t spare us any grief, either.

That’s because artificial sweeteners increase our hunger by triggering the brain to expect and prepare for more calories. 

Furthermore, it might alter the bacterial balance in our gut.

This directly impacts our metabolism, changing the way we deal with glucose.

You should opt for a healthy smoothie instead o​f sodas. 

​2. ​Prepackaged or dried fruit

Dried fruit is my candy and probably always will be. 

Cherries, dates, figs, you name it! 

belly fat dried fruit

They’re nutritionally dense and easy to grab for on-the-go responsible snacking.

But it’s important to know the difference between dried and candied.

These fruits are dusted with sugar and doused in syrup.

That extra sugar causes weight gain, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

This is a dangerous trap because eating something healthy, like fruit, subconsciously makes us think we have leeway.

The added sugar doesn’t seem like a big deal, but hey, it really adds up.

3. Dairy Products

Admittedly, I include this because a lot of us have received conflicting messages.

​I still maintain that if you do everything right and still have unwanted belly fat, try skipping dairy.

healthy foods dairy products belly fat

A lot of people who avoid dairy, but aren’t allergic, do so on basic principle.

Humans are indeed the only living creatures who seek out and regularly consume the milk of an entirely different species.

But in matters of health, the production methods concern me most.

Most dairy products contain exogenous hormones from the animal who produced it.

Obviously, the biggest concern here would be cancer. But all those hormones throw us off and can interfere with the metabolism.

The majority of the hormones we consume in our diet come from dairy.

We’ll get back to hormones in a moment.

For now, use your intuition to examine whether dairy is helpful or harmful to your weight loss goals. 

​4. Lean meat 

So, you’re avoiding red meat and pork in order to cut back on fat. But fish, poultry, and lean cuts are still good, right?

lean meat belly fat

Actually, you may want to take a step back and really limit these.

We definitely need protein, but there’s a rampant misconception that we aren’t getting enough. 

The truth is, we typically consume too much.

This contributes to excess consumption of saturated fat and calories, which leads to excess abdominal fat.


...farmed fish like salmon are high in omega-6 fatty acids. 

If you’re not working diligently on improving your omega-3 consumption to balance this, you can experience inflammation and weight gain.

Beyond Food: Sensible Ways to Eliminate Belly Fat

​Dietary changes are king for thinner waists and flatter bellies.

Yet while food is often the cause, sometimes the cure extends beyond the kitchen.

For really stubborn belly fat, try something new in one or more of these areas.


Being sedentary will clearly lead to loss of muscle tone and fat storage. And just like a diet, exercise should be tailored to your body’s unique needs.

Being sedentary will clearly lead to loss of muscle tone and fat storage. And just like a diet, exercise should be tailored to your body’s unique needs.

For example, lots of cardio and high-intensity training may not be the answer.

They can increase hunger and the production of cortisol, the belly fat-causing hormone.

This phenomenon of working hard and losing no weight is particularly problematic in middle-aged women.

Additionally, if you’re pushing too hard, the stress can provoke your body into retaining water.

This can make you bloat.

So if you’re training a lot but still dissatisfied with your belly, back off.  

Seriously... you may be asking yourself? Don't take my word for it. Check out this video.

Try longer sessions of more light-to-moderate exercise. Go for hatha or power yoga, or regular aerobics.

Dancing, walking and weight training may be more effective for you. 

​​Balance your hormones

The right kind and amount of exercise will support hormonal balance.

As we age, hormonal changes contribute heavily to abdominal weight gain.

Mismatched estrogen, testosterone, leptin, DHEA, cortisol, and insulin create the nightmare of weight loss resistance.

The good news is that fat loss - anywhere - can balance out crucial hormones like estrogen.

Stick with the best diet and exercise regimen for you.

In addition, get more sunshine and sleep, increase omega-3 consumption and cut out coffee, tobacco and alcohol. 

Be more present

Slow down!

How do you know your eating habits are not to blame if you aren’t really present?

Take time to really taste food and examine the source of your hunger.

If you don’t, you can end up making poor choices and perhaps overeating.

Without realizing it!

The practice of mindful eating encourages us to look deeper at our desires as they relate to food.

Personally, I have found success focusing on the food itself.

Instead of taking a blogger or marketer’s word for it, look at foods independently.

Think about where they came from, how they were grown and what they most reliably contain.

Continue being mindful as you prepare it, so your cooking methods are more clear as well.

I notice that when I do this, I add less oil when sautéing and wash produce more carefully.

I chew slower and opt not to open a package when I take a moment to visualize industrial vats of preservatives.

​You Should Rest

​The effects of diet and exercise require rest and recovery in order to manifest. This is when muscle repair and metabolic changes really take hold. 

Sleep counts here.

Stress and insomnia increase cortisol, the overproduction of which bears a connection to a poorer wait-to-hip ratio.

Shawn Stevenson has written an excellent book on sleep through which many have found more effective rest. 

During waking hours, make adjustments to a high-stress lifestyle.

Practice saying no to overscheduling, take frequent breaks from screens and cut back on incessant meetings.

Focus on deeper belly breathing and proper posture with relaxed shoulders; you won’t stress out as quickly.

Final Word About:​​​​​ Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat

​A slimmer waist reduces our chances of experiencing heart disease, diabetes, and more during our lifetimes.

Corn syrup, processed and refined foods have made this more difficult for us to achieve.

​Yet even foods that seem like healthier options can spell bad news for stubborn belly fat. You might finally break through that wall if you:

Focus on better hormonal balance

​Do you know of any healthy foods that are more fattening than they claim?

What’s your opinion of high fructose corn syrup?

What about animal products - do those help hinder you when you’re trying to lose weight? Let me know down below.

Healthy Foods That Cause Belly Fat
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