Trying to figure out which foods quickly transform into body fat could confuse anyone, especially if you’re just starting to learn healthy eating habits. Luckily, we consulted a handful of dietitians and experts who shared what common foods have the potential to pack on the pounds. If you want to slim down and can’t figure out why your diet hasn’t worked, make sure none of these popular foods slow down your progress and lead to body fat.
Read on to learn which popular foods sneakily lead to extra body fat and for maximum results, make sure to check out 40 Best-Ever Fat-Burning Foods to supercharge any of your weight loss goals.
You might never guess, but your favorite applesauce unknowingly added a bit of fat into your meal plan.
“Foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners like—light applesauce—tend to make people gain fat weight around the belly,” says Heidi Moretti, RD. “Because sweet foods are very calorically dense and tasty, people tend to overeat them. In terms of metabolism, sugar is very harmful to have in the blood, so the body turns it into a less harmful substance quickly, which happens to be fat in the blood. This fat then is stored if it isn’t used immediately as energy.”
“Sadly, artificial sweeteners aren’t a free pass either,” Moretti continues. “Foods sweetened with sucralose may increase glucose entry into the cell, which can lead to packing on extra body fat as new research shows.”
If you noticed some extra weight building around your stomach, you might have alcohol to blame.
“Excess alcohol use is widely associated with increased adiposity, which is why we often hear the term ‘beer belly,'” says Dr. Uma Naidoo, nutritional psychiatrist. “Chronic alcohol consumption is shown to disrupt the gut microbiome and can lead to leaky gut syndrome, which leads to inflammation and can increase body fat. Similarly, alcohol is high in ’empty’ calories, meaning it does not contain nutrients, and can influence unhealthy food choices after consumption, which can overall increase risk of obesity.”
When you want to indulge in an adult beverage but avoid the consequences that come with alcohol, check out 15 Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks That Are Actually Worth Buying and find your next favorite mocktail or non-alcoholic spirit.
When it comes to managing body fat, keep an eye out for white bread.
“When wheat is refined to make this white flour that constitutes many processed foods, it is stripped of not only most of its nutrients, but also its fiber and protein, leaving a product that is essentially all sugar and high on the glycemic index,” says Dr. Naidoo.
“When consumed, they are digested similarly to added sugars as discussed above,” says Dr. Naidoo. “They contribute to increased blood sugar levels and metabolic disease consistent with insulin and leptin resistance, and increased energy storage in fat cells, or overall increased body fat. Due to the simplicity of these foods and their lack of fat and protein to slow digestion, high glycemic processed foods are notably unsatisfying and associated with excess calorie intake.”
Instead, focus on consuming more of these 9 Best Complex Carbs for Weight Loss.
“This common snack food often leads to increased body fat, especially if indulged in too frequently,” says Matthew Olesiak, MD. “In fact, one study found potato chips to be the food likely to lead to the most weight gain over a 4-year period—compared to potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed and unprocessed meats.”
“Potato chips are loaded with fat, refined carbs, and salt,” Dr. Olesiak continues. “All three work together to make them addictive, a big reason why you ‘can’t eat just one.’ This often leads to overeating a high-fat, high-calorie food with resulting weight gain.”
“In addition, the refined carbs in potato chips are particularly bad for the waistline, as they are often stored as fat,” says Dr. Olesiak. “When you eat refined carbs stripped of digestion-slowing fiber, they are broken down very quickly with the resulting glucose dumped into your bloodstream all at once. This causes a rapid rise in blood glucose and triggers a release of the fat-storage hormone insulin. Some of this glucose is used immediately for energy. The rest is converted into fat for long-term storage. So, if you eat potato chips and other refined carbs, most of the calories will be stored as fat.”
If you love a good chip and don’t want to give up the treat, don’t fret! Take a look at the 11 Best Brand Name Chips for Weight Loss and get your snack on.
Few foods can match the sugary, fried goodness found in a doughnut. While this morning delight tastes great, too many doughnuts can lead to excess body fat.
“Doughnuts are loaded with sugar and refined carbs that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels that temporarily satisfies your hunger,” says Dr. Olesiak. “Meanwhile, the pancreas releases an equally large secretion of insulin to quickly clear excess glucose from your bloodstream and move it into your cells.”
“As the glucose enters your cells, you experience a surge of energy that lasts for only about 20 minutes,” Dr. Olesiak continues. “But as the glucose in your bloodstream rapidly declines, so does your energy. This is why you often become tired after eating refined carbs and foods with added sugar. You’ll also feel hungry again and reach for another doughnut—or two or three. This can easily add up to 1,000 [or more] empty calories that lead to an increase in body fat. Plus, most of the calories in refined foods are stored as fat.”
If you thought you could get away with using margarine in place of butter to keep extra fat from building up, guess again.
“We went from seeing margarine, especially low-fat margarine, as the food the doctor ordered to reviling its trans fats and its nature as a contrived, ultra-processed food associated with fatness and chronic disease and accepting the once ‘evil’ butter as a natural spread of choice,” says Dr. Julie Miller Jones, LN, CNS.
“The low-fat fad resulted in the development of many products with no fat, which caused many consumers to believe they could eat unlimited amounts—after all the label said ‘free.’ This misperception meant that some cases consumed large amounts of the no-fat cookie or cake and did not lose weight, but rather gained it.”
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