Dietitians Say You Should Avoid This Pantry Snack At All Costs—It Causes Belly Fat!


While having a stomach that isn’t *completely* flat is healthy and normal, experts stress that one type of pantry food or snack in particular can cause extra fat in your midsection or midriff area that you might be trying to avoid. We checked in with registered dietitians and nutritionists to learn more about one common food (that might be in your cabinet right now!) that offers little to no nutritional value, can leave you feeling sluggish and deprived and set back your weight loss progress. Read on for more healthy eating tips from Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian, Liana Werner-Gray, certified nutritionist and natural food chef, Nicole Olen, RDN, registered dietitian and nutritionist and Lisa Richards, registered nutritionist.

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The Many Reasons Why Breakfast Pastries Should Be Removed From Your Pantry

While sugary croissants, Pop-Tarts, donuts, etc. are undeniably delicious, eating them as your first meal of the day or even just as a frequent snack is dangerous to your health as you age, Hunnes stressed. “The least healthy type of carbohydrate to eat over the age of 40 is ultra-processed carbohydrates that are frequently found in packaged foods such as pastries, think Pop-Tarts,” she explains.

The reason these types of carbs are not great at any age, let alone over 40, Hunnes adds, is because they provide “no nutritional benefit, they are often devoid of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds.” This is terrible for the metabolism and potential to lose weight, she says, because it leads to “insulin spikes, increases in IGF-1, an inflammatory marker, and increases risk for chronic diseases and deposition (fat storage) of calories in the body .”

Werner-Gray agrees, and says that these simple carbs (which are also known as simple sugar or refined carbs) are found in processed foods like pastries. “They should be avoided as much as possible,” she warns. Refined carbohydrates are made from wheat, which Werner-Gray says is fine in a balanced, healthy diet for some people; however, “most processed carbs are made from low-quality wheat that has been genetically modified and grown in poor soil, saturated with pesticides, and then mixed with refined sugars to make a ‘food’ like a cake or a bagel.” Best to skip!

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How To Reduce Refined Carbohydrates

While foods containing refined carbs can be tempting, their cons far outweigh their pros when it comes to your ability to lose weight healthily, Richards says. If you frequently eat these and experience indigestion, she explains that the tie between these foods and these undesired effects is strong. “To reduce stomach bloat, I recommend cutting out or significantly reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat,” Richards advises. “This includes sugary foods, even naturally occurring sugar.”

While this may seem hard to do, Olen says that the many replacements out there are more accessible than it may seem at first. “Swap out refined grains for whole-grain options when you can,” she says. “Choose whole-wheat bread, English muffins, bagels, or tortillas regularly,” she continues, adding to “use brown rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat couscous” for quick and healthy snacks as well.

In conclusion, Hunnes says that “we are best off to eat the least processed carbohydrates possible, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, in their natural form—unprocessed.” These, she emphasizes, are “not at all harmful for our metabolism and are anti-inflammatory, high in fiber, and help regulate weight.”

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