Excess belly fat is extremely unhealthy. It’s a risk factor for diseases like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The medical term for unhealthy fat in the belly is “visceral fat,” which refers to fat surrounding the liver and other organs in your abdomen. Even normal-weight people with excess belly fat have an increased risk of health problems. Here are 12 common everyday things that make you gain belly fat. Avoid them and watch yourself lose weight for good.
1. Sugary Foods and Drinks
Many people take in more sugar every day than they realize. High-sugar foods include cakes and candies, along with so-called “healthier” choices like muffins and frozen yogurt. Soda, flavored coffee drinks and sweet tea are among the most popular sugar-sweetened beverages. Many studies have shown a link between high sugar intake and excess belly fat—the weight gain is largely due to the high fructose content of added sugars. If you think drinking diet version helps, think again—these drinks are loaded with artificial sweeteners that mess with your body’s chemical processing, causing you to be hungry all the time, so you mindlessly eat more often and ultimately become fat.
2. Alcohol Beverages
When consumed in moderate amounts, especially as red wine, it may lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, high alcohol intake may lead to inflammation, liver disease and other health problems. Studies have shown that alcohol suppresses fat burning and that excess calories from alcohol are partly stored as belly fat — hence the term “beer belly”. Daily drinkers who consumed less than one drink per day tended to have the least abdominal fat, while those who drank less often but consumed four or more drinks on “drinking days” were most likely to have excess belly fat.
3. Trans Fat
Trans fats or trans-unsaturated fatty acids are the unhealthiest fats on the planet. They’re created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats in order to make them more stable. Trans fats are often used to extend the shelf lives of packaged foods, such as muffins, baking mixes and crackers. Trans fats have been shown to cause inflammation, which can lead to insulin resistance, heart disease, various other diseases and of course belly fat.
In a 6-year study, monkeys fed an 8% trans fat diet gained weight and had 33% more abdominal fat than monkeys fed an 8% monounsaturated fat diet, despite both groups receiving just enough calories to maintain their weight.
4. Sitting on The Couch
Over the past few decades, people have generally become less active. This has likely played a role in the rising rates of obesity, including abdominal obesity. On top of that, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest risk factors for poor health.
A study conducted by the researchers at the University of Alberta compared women who watched more than three hours of TV per day to those who watched less than one hour per day. The group that watched more TV had almost twice the risk of “severe abdominal obesity” compared to the group that watched less TV—meaning sitting around watching tv and being lazy makes you FAT.
5. Not eating enough protein
Getting adequate protein is one of the most important factors in preventing weight gain. High-protein diets make you feel full and satisfied, increase your metabolic rate and lead to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. In contrast, low protein intake may cause you to gain belly fat over the long term. Several large studies suggest that people who consume the highest amount of protein are the least likely to have excess belly fat—protein ain’t just for gym bound muscleheads!
6. Drinking fruit juices
Fruit juice is a sugary beverage in disguise. Even unsweetened 100% fruit juice contains a lot of sugar. In fact, 8 oz (250 ml) of apple juice and cola each contain 24 grams of sugar. The same amount of grape juice packs a whopping 32 grams of sugar. Although fruit juice provides some vitamins and minerals, the fructose it contains can drive insulin resistance and promote belly fat gain. What’s more, it’s another source of liquid calories that’s easy to consume too much of, yet still fails to satisfy your appetite in the same way as solid food. Eat your fruits and drink fruit infused water instead.
7. Getting too stressed
The stress hormone, Cortisol is a hormone that’s essential for survival. But it can lead to weight gain when produced in excess, especially in the abdominal region. In many people, stress drives overeating. But instead of the excess calories being stored as fat all over the body, cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly. Interestingly, women who have large waists in proportion to their hips have been found to secrete more cortisol when stressed. So, find ways to relax—take a yoga class or at the very least, walk your dog around the block if you’re feeling stressed.
8. Not eating enough fiber
Fiber is incredibly important for good health and controlling your weight. Some types of fiber can help you feel full, stabilize hunger hormones and reduce calorie absorption from food. But make sure you consume whole grains as opposed to refined grains—a controlled study by the University of Alberta found that women who ate a high-fiber whole grain breakfast every morning had waist sizes 3 inches smaller than women who ate a refined grain breakfast.
9. Not sleeping enough
Getting enough sleep is so so crucial for your health. If you search around on the internet, you’ll find tons of studies that have linked inadequate sleep with weight gain—and mostly fat around the abdominal area.
A longitudinal large study over 16 years that followed over 65,000 women and found that those who slept 5 hours or less per night were 32% more likely to gain 32 lbs (15 kg) than those who slept at least 7 hours. So, get the fitness and nutrition expert recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to avoid the flabby belly.
10. Making a big deal out of everything
Obsessing over losing weight can become counterproductive. Stress does crazy things to your body and you will have a harder time losing weight if you stress about it. So stay calm, eat clean, and move more. If you need a sensible guide on eating clean, eating whole and living skinny, there is a little-known diet plan called the 2 Week Diet which will teach you these things. Getting your eating habits and lifestyle in check will increase your metabolism—allowing you to shed weight and shed it fast.
Women who have followed the 2 Week Diet reported losing up to 20 pounds and 2-4 inches from their waist in just a matter of 2 weeks—the methods in the 2 Week Diet are all backed by science. Check out this video on the 2 Week Diet now to learn more about how to follow the diet—and get to your ideal weight in 14 days.