Foods to Stay Away From to Flatten the Belly

If your goal is to obtain firm, flat abdominals, you must adopt a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular exercise -- but a clean diet is paramount. The foods you eat must come from low calorie, nutrient dense sources like fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy. There are many foods and beverages you must avoid if you want to develop and maintain a flat belly.

Sodium

Typically, processed meats and vegetables are rife with sodium. Not only does this contribute to hypertension, but it also increases water retention, creating a bloated stomach. Be sure you read food labels carefully next time you hit the grocery store. Canned foods, frozen meals, sauces and spices are the main perpetrators of high sodium.

Refined Carbs

Refined carbs are different from their whole grain carb counterparts, because they have been processed. The machines that process carbs strip them away of their nutrients. The "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reports a correlation between the intake of refined carbohydrates and increased fat storage, particularly around the belly. Foods that fit into this category include sugary cereals, white bread and white rice.

Fast Food

Fast food is a mainstay for many people with a busy lifestyle. However, eating too much of convenient, fast food can do more harm than good to your waistline. According to a 2009 study at UC Berkeley, those who live in close proximity to fast food restaurants have a higher risk of obesity, than those who do not. Most fast foods have added preservatives including trans fatty acids and corn syrup. They have also been cooked in saturated fats, so they contain a lot of calories.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are often found in commercially prepared products and they contribute an excessive amount of fat and calories to your diet. Pastries, donuts, cupcakes, cookies, potato chips, white breads and restaurant prepared foods have trans fats. If you have a sweet tooth, try low fat flavored yogurt or a small piece of dark chocolate, instead.