10 Foods to Avoid for a Flat Belly

Carrying some extra pounds on the gut comes from consuming more calories than you burn through exercise. No foods specifically add fat to your belly. They add fat to your whole body, which includes your belly. Likewise, avoiding specific foods won't flatten your belly specifically. They'll help you lose weight overall. In general, foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates and foods that are hard to stop eating should be the first to go when you want to lose weight.

Sweets and Soda

Candy and other sweets offer nothing but calories, and plenty of them. According to Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett, if you want to lose belly fat, the first thing you should eliminate are high-calorie, low-value foods. At 150 empty calories per can, soda pop is a particularly bad form of sweet for diet purposes. For many people, drinking soda is an automatic part of lunch or dinner. By simply replacing this with water or iced tea, you can drop hundreds of calories per week from your diet.

Fast Food

A single fast-food meal often totals more than 2,000 calories, the recommended calorie intake for an entire day. Worse still, fast food is high in bad fats and low in nutrition.

Alcohol

According to Willett, research shows that an alcoholic drink each day can help reduce your risk of heart disease. However, alcohol presents two problems. Like sweets, it has a high caloric content with little nutritional benefit. Also, drinking alcohol often leads to drinking more alcohol. A single night out drinking can mean taking in thousands of calories you would otherwise have done without.

Dairy

Willet notes that dairy, although a good source of calcium, is also rich in carbohydrates and bad fats. While shedding your belly fat, it's better to get your calcium from leafy green vegetables and other low-calorie options.

Refined Grains

Refined grains are pure carbohydrates, presenting your body with a sugar rush just like eating sweets. The calories from this rush are bad enough, but when the sugar high fades your body starts to feel hungry again. Dr. Mehmet Oz, co-author of "You: The Owner's Manual" recommends eating whole and wild grains, which release their carbs more slowly.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is subtle. It can contain many important nutrients, but it's often high in sugar. Willett notes that many people seem to differentiate between "food calories" and "beverage calories," not taking into account the effect of their liquid intake. Although a glass in the morning is OK, don't make fruit juice your default beverage.

Snack Foods

Snack foods such as chips, trail mix and pretzels are all right in moderation. However, like sweets, they are long on calories and low on nutritional value. For between-meal snacks, personal trainer Bill Phillips recommends vegetable sticks or a piece of fruit.

Potatoes

According to Willett, a single baked potato has nearly the identical effect on your body as eating a tablespoon of pure sugar. Like refined grains, these tubers are loaded with empty calories. Also like refined grains, when the sugar high fades, it leaves you hungry and craving more food.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Not exactly a food, this common ingredient combines the problems of sweets and of refined grains. Fructose is a sugar, adding calorie content while bringing no nutritional value to the table. Worse, recent evidence shows that high fructose corn syrup interferes with your body's ability to realize it's full. This means you're not only eating fattening foods, but you'll likely to eat more of them than you normally would.