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For many people, breakfast is the most exciting meal of the day. You get to roll out of bed, make your favorite cup of coffee, and treat yourself to a nice meal to help jumpstart your morning. And while there are plenty of delicious and healthy options out there to choose from, there are also some breakfast foods that may cause more harm than good. In fact, your favorite morning meals may be among the worst breakfast foods for belly fat.
Research suggests that some specific foods common to breakfast time are more likely to lead to the amassment of more belly fat—also known as visceral fat. Although it’s perfectly healthy and necessary to have some amount of fat around your stomach, too much of it can be dangerous because it sits around your abdominal organs. In fact, carrying too much visceral fat can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Eating unhealthier breakfast foods from time to time may not subject you to any major health risks in the immediate present. However, getting in the habit of eating these items can increase your risk of excess visceral fat, especially if accompanied by a more inactive lifestyle and a ton of stress.
With that in mind, here are some of the worst breakfast foods for belly fat—and for more information on some potentially awful eating choices you will want to avoid, check out US News Announces the Best Diets of 2023—And the Lowest Ranking Ones May Surprise You.
In a report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, processed meats were said to have a positive correlation to weight gain, only behind chocolate bars and crackers, and even more so than pancakes or waffles. A 2019 study from the International Journal of Obesity suggests that greatly limiting your consumption of processed meat (along with sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol) in order to maintain low levels of visceral fat.
White bread toast
White bread and other refined carbs can easily lead to more weight gain, especially around the stomach area. A report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that while whole grains were associated with less visceral fat, white bread had the opposite effect and was positively associated with an increase in visceral fat tissue.
Switching to whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates can significantly improve not just bodyweight but your overall health in general, which is why some of the healthiest places in the world eat these grains on a daily basis. You can try a whole grain slice of toast topped with avocado or eggs, or switch up your breakfast completely and try some oatmeal for higher fiber.
Fast food breakfast
Fast food is easy and affordable, but it unfortunately comes with a long list of health-related consequences. For one, fast food can be high in trans fats, which when consumed regularly have been found to lead to things obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In fact, most research suggests we eliminate trans fats from our diets completely.
Trans fats can specifically lead to more weight gain in the abdominal area, which was discovered after a study on postmenopausal women in Nutrition&Diabetes. Another study focusing on Iranian adults concluded that fast food consumption was related to an increase in metabolic syndrome, which includes conditions like abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Consuming too much added sugar is a quick way to derail your weight loss goals, and many popular cereals are loaded with it. According to a study found in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, added sugar was associated with a greater increase in visceral fat tissue.
It’s difficult to find cereal that isn’t packed full of added sugar, but there are some healthier cereal options out there. When you wake up craving cereal, try a brand that contains less sugar and higher amounts of fiber and protein to leave you feeling full until lunch.
Specialty coffee drinks
Coffee by itself can actually be beneficial to weight loss. If consumed black or without a lot of cream or sugar, it can help by boosting your metabolism and energizing you throughout the day. Unfortunately, specialty coffee drinks that many of us get in the habit of ordering at our favorite cafe are full of sugar and calories from fat.
Beverages made with added sugar, such as specialty coffee drinks, soda, and sugary fruit juices have been linked to a number of health problems, including weight gain and abdominal obesity. Harvard Health even emphasizes that drinks with added sugar can sometimes be worse than sugar-heavy foods because these beverages come with little to no nutrients whatsoever.
If you’re going to go for the specialty coffee drink, try asking for less sweetener. You can also ask for no sweetener so you can add some yourself so you can have more control over your portions.
A previous version of this story was published on February 27, 2022. It has been updated to include additional copy and proofreading revisions, additional research, and updated contextual links.
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