This article has been updated since its initial publish date with more expert insight.
While some weight gain is not all bad and even sometimes necessary for our health, visceral fat is another matter. This kind of fat, experts warn, is not seen with the naked eye, and wraps around the abdominal organs deep inside the body. To avoid this, it’s imperative to create a balanced diet, and to avoid eating certain foods and carbohydrates every day. We checked in with health and nutrition experts for more information.
Read on for details regarding 3 carbs to skip (white flour, white rice, and other processed foods) from Lisa Richards, registered nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet and Dr. Gabriela Rodríguez Ruiz, MD, PhD, FACS, board-certified bariatric surgeon at VIDA Wellness and Beauty.
READ MORE: 5 Processed Foods Dietitians Want You To Cut From Your Diet In 2023 Because They Cause Visceral Fat
How Refined Carbs Lead To Visceral Fat
White flour, white rice and other processed foods all fall under the category of refined carbohydrates, Richards says, and these must be avoided if your goal is to prevent unnecessary weight gain. “Refined carbohydrates have many negative side effects for our health and belly fat is just one of them,” she explains.
White and enriched breads in particular, have undergone a refining process where the “fiber and beneficial nutrients are removed,” Richards notes, and, “possibly replaced with synthetic versions.” These refined carbs, she adds, lead to “quick sugar spikes and inflammation, both of which stall weight loss and damage health.”
Rodríguez agrees, and stresses to “avoid white flour, white rice, and processed foods made with these ingredients.” Specifically, she says, since white flour has been refined, it is “easily digested and turned into sugar, which raises insulin levels and leads to fat storage.”
Processed foods made with white flour are also “high in calories and low in nutrients,” she points out. “You don’t quickly get full after eating them, which can lead to overeating without you even realizing it,” she warns, and this can contribute to weight gain.
White rice is another carb to avoid, Rodríguez says. She deems it to be a high-glycemic food, which means it causes a quick spike in blood sugar levels. This, too, she says, can lead to “insulin resistance and fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.”
White rice is high in carbohydrates but low in fiber, and she explains that a one-cup serving provides 242 calories, 53.4 grams of carbs, and only 0.6 grams of fiber. “A low-fiber diet has been linked to weight gain and obesity because it does not provide the satiety (fullness) that fiber does,” she adds.
What To Eat Instead
To avoid these carbs and the associated weight gain, Rodríguez recommends eating whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, and beans. “Incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your diet can also help, as they are high in fiber and water, which allows you to feel full,” she says. In addtion, she dubs oranges and pineapples to be “particularly good at helping cut visceral fat, as they are full of nutrients, fiber, and vitamin C.”
A rule of thumb, Richards concludes, is to look at the ingredients list and avoid any breads that start with ‘enriched.’ A diet high in protein, she suggests, can help to reduce and prevent belly fat. “Lean protein both boosts metabolism and increases satiety,” she says, and “an increased metabolism will lead to weight loss.”
Having a feeling of fullness, she continues, will “prevent overeating and indulging in calorie-dense, sugar-laden foods.” Some high-protein foods she advises to consume to lose your belly fat and keep it off include “lean poultry, fish, nuts, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, chia, lentils, and quinoa.”