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5 Foods You May Think are Good for You but Actually Increase Belly Fat

When you're trying to lose weight quickly, the last thing you want is to consume diet-sabotaging foods that add inches to your middle. Unfortunately, many of us do just that.

Worse, we eat these foods because we think they're healthy for us.

However, many "healthy" foods actually increase our belly fat by making us more resistant to insulin and causing our bodies to produce stress hormones.

Here are five diet foods that don't deserve a place on your table:

Wheat Bread

Many people eat wheat bread because they think it's a better option than white bread. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. The secret lies in the labeling.

If the ingredient list starts with a whole grain, like rye or oatmeal, then the bread is made from whole grains. Whole grain products are excellent for dieters because they contain fiber and nutrients that promote fat loss.

But most wheat breads are simply a darker version of white bread. Just because a bread is brown doesn't mean it's healthy. Nutritionally, white bread and wheat bread are very similar.

Baked Potatoes

Weighing in at a slim 80 calories and covered with a nutritious skin, potatoes are a popular choice for dieters. But they also contain quite a bit of starch, which the body treats like sugar.

Diabetics and anyone with insulin resistance (also known as metabolic syndrome) should avoid starches like potatoes as these foods can cause a blood glucose spike. Fibrous sweet potatoes are a better choice.

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Fat-Free Foods

While food companies are quick to brag that a product is fat free, they fail to disclose that the fat has been replaced with sugar. That's right - your favorite fat-free snacks could be giving you an unhealthy dose of sugar.

Unstable blood sugar levels contribute to excess abdominal fat that can be dangerous. If you're concerned about the amount of hidden sugars in your diet, step away from the processed fat-free foods and have the full-fat version - in moderation.

Fat-free diet snacks and frozen dinners deserve special mention. You might be surprised by the amount of sugar, sodium, and artificial flavor enhancers in these products.

It might be more satisfying, and ultimately healthier, to indulge in the regular version of the foods you crave. Just limit the number of indulgences and practice portion control.

Diet Sodas

Studies have linked diet soda consumption to metabolic syndrome. Dieters who drink diet sodas are actually more likely to be overweight than those who don't. Why?

The artificial sweeteners in diet soda can actually trick your body into producing more insulin. This has a two-fold effect: First, it makes you hungrier. Second, it makes your body more resistant to insulin.

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But that's not the only way diet sodas contribute to expanding waistlines. Caffeinated beverages can trigger production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol sends our bodies into self-preservation mode, where they store fat around the midsection.

Finally, some people are sensitive to the flavor enhancers in diet sodas. These chemicals cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, setting the stage for insulin resistance and increased belly fat.

Fruit Juice

How many dieters start their day with a healthy glass of orange juice? After all, it's part of a balanced breakfast.

Those dieters would be far better off eating an orange or apple instead of drinking the juice. Fruits juices are often loaded with added sugar. Juices that advertise "no added sugar" are still devoid of the fiber that makes fruit so good for you.

To whittle your waist, start your day with some lean protein and a serving of low-sugar fruit, like berries. Have some water, tea, or reduced-fat milk to kick your metabolism into gear for the day.

It's sad that so many of our favorite diet foods are bad for us, but there's a lesson to be learned here: To change our bodies, we must change the way we think about food. Use your newfound knowledge to create a thinner, healthier you!

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