This article has been updated with more expert insight since its initial publication date.
While some weight gain isn’t all bad and is sometimes even necessary for our health, visceral fat is another matter. This type of fat, experts warn, is not seen with the naked eye and wraps deep in the body around the abdominal organs. To avoid this, it is imperative to create a balanced diet and avoid certain foods and carbohydrates every day. We reached out to health and nutrition experts for more information.
Read on to learn about 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 Eliminate From Your Diet By 2023 Because They Cause Visceral Fat
How refined carbohydrates lead to visceral fat
White flour, white rice, and other processed foods all fall under the category of refined carbohydrates, says Richards, and these should be avoided if your goal is to avoid unnecessary weight gain. “Refined carbohydrates have many negative side effects on our health and belly fat is just one of them,” she explains.
White and enriched bread specifically, they’ve undergone a refining process that removes the “fiber and beneficial nutrients,” notes Richards, and “possibly replaced with synthetic versions.” These refined carbs, she adds, lead to “rapid sugar spikes and inflammation, both of which slow weight loss and harm health.”
Rodríguez agrees, emphasizing to “avoid White flower, White riceand processed foods made with these ingredients.” Specifically, she says, because white flour is refined, it is “easily digested and converted to sugar, which increases 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 get full quickly after eating them, which can lead to overeating without you realizing it,” she warns, and this can contribute to weight gain.
White rice is another carb to avoid, says Rodríguez. She considers it a high-glycemic food, meaning it causes a rapid spike in blood sugar. This, too, she says, can lead to “insulin resistance and fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.”
White rice is high in carbs but low in fiber, and she explains that a one-cup serving has 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 doesn’t provide the satiety (fullness) that fiber provides,” she adds.
What to eat instead
To avoid these carbs and the associated weight gain, Rodríguez recommends eating whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, and beans. “Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet can also help, as they are high in fiber and water, which help you feel full,” she says. In addition, she calls oranges and pineapple “particularly good at reducing 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 breads that begin with “enriched.” A high-protein diet, she suggests, can help reduce and prevent belly fat. “Lean protein boosts both metabolism and satiety,” she says, and “an increased metabolism will lead to weight loss.”
Feeling full, she continues, will “prevent overeating and indulging in high-calorie, sugary foods.” Some high-protein foods she recommends consuming 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.”