Everyday Foods That Add Inches to Your Waistline

If you’ve ever complained that you can’t shake the belly weight, you aren’t alone. Many people complain that the fat around their waistline is the toughest to lose. Your stomach accumulates both subcutaneous fat (what you see on the outside) and visceral fat (what lines your intestines). Both can have major consequences for your health.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the foods that affect your digestion as well as your weight gain. It’s possible you recently bought a few of these everyday foods that could be deterring your weight loss.


Piece of parmesan and grated cheese

A lot more people have trouble processing dairy than you think. | iStock.com/alexbai

A bloated belly can be a sign of lactose intolerance. About 75% of the world’s population has trouble breaking down lactose, the sugar found in milk .“Lactose can be a major issue for many adults as we naturally produce less of the necessary digestive enzyme lactase as we get older,” said Isabel Smith, a registered dietitian.

If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems. Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea. Try products with added lactase like Lactaid to reduce bloating.

Vegetable oil

Olive oil

Go with olive oil instead. | iStock.com/alenkadr

Vegetable oils may not be as healthy as you think. Vegetable and seed oils are often extracted from foods using solvents like hexane, a component of gasoline. They’re highly processed and their high omega-6 fatty acid content promotes inflammation.

Omegas can be good — omega-3 rich foods like fish are actually anti-inflammatories — but according to Healthline, the typical Western diet provides more omega-6 fatty acids than the average person needs. Try virgin olive oils or coconut oils instead.

White rice

Basmati rice cooke

Refined carbs can cause inflammatory issues. | iStock.com/vm2002

America’s relationship with carbohydrates has its peaks and valleys, while the truth isn’t black and white; not all carbs are problematic, though many are. Refined carbohydrates like white rice are the real enemy to your diet.

These refined carbs are inflammatories and can lead to stomach bloat. They’ve also had most of their fiber removed, so you won’t feel full as quickly as you would eating high-fiber foods.


Alcoholic Whiskey Bourbon in a Glass with Ice

Go easy on the booze. | iStock.com

Alcohol can affect your waistline in various ways. One study found that the more alcohol people consumed, the more their CRP increased. CRP is an inflammatory marker that’s measured by testing the blood.

Drinking also “presses pause on your metabolism” according to Pamela M. Peeke, M.D., author of The Hunger Fix. It makes you break the alcohol down first and store whatever calories you recently ate as fat. “Research has uncovered that alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly,” Dr. Peeke said. “That’s why you never hear about ‘beer hips,’ you hear about a ‘beer belly.'”


Broccoli in pan on wood kitchen table

Broccoli can make you bloated. | iStock.com/phasinphoto

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable; the family of cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts as well. These veggies, while high in nutrients, also contain FODMAPs. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates the small intestine has difficulty digesting.

Studies show strong links between FODMAPs and digestive symptoms like bloating and stomach pain. Cooking the vegetables can help with digestion, or try alternatives like spinach, cucumbers, and zucchini.


Soda in fridge

Consuming all of that sugar is never good. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Regular soda has large amounts of fructose which has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and — you guessed it — inflammation. Sugary soda drinkers are more likely to develop visceral fat (fat wrapped around their internal organs), according to Today. This fat shows in your stomach and on your waistline.

“We observed that individuals who consumed at least one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 27% greater increase in visceral adipose tissue volume over six years compared to non-consumers,” the study’s authors wrote.


Bacon pieces sitting in a cast iron skillet.

This may be impossible for some. | iStock.com/VeselovaElena

You’d think this one would be a no-brainer, yet Americans are eating more pork now than they have in decades. Processed meats like bacon and sausage are associated with plenty of health risks like diabetes and colon cancer. They’re also bad for your gut.

The high saturated fat in bacon is terrible for your health, and it’s no surprise that greasy food makes you bloat while packing on the pounds. Avoid high-fat, processed meats like bacon and opt for lean protein sources like poultry and fish.

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