25 Worst Foods for Your Abs

  • Potato Chips

    In the contest to find the very worst possible food for your belly, Harvard researchers believe they have a winner. It’s not just that they’re saturated with saturated fat, causing abdominal fat gain. It’s not just that they’re crusted with salt, causing mid-level bloat. It’s not even a pure calorie play—there are plenty of more caloric snacks out there. What makes potato chips so epically bad for your belly is not what they have, but what they lack: the ability to make you feel satisfied. A handful of chips can turn into a big empty bag in no time simply because our bodies expect us to make them happy when we eat food. Daily chip consumption alone was responsible for adding nearly two pounds of flab to study participants’ frame every four years. That means if you cut out chips, you would lose more than half a pound of fat directly from your belly, even if you changed nothing else about your diet.

  • Diet Soda

    If you want to get your beach body back, you should cut out sugary beverages and replace them with diet versions, right? Wrong. Recent studies have found an association between the consumption of diet sodas and a wider waist circumference. What’s more, diet soda drinkers have a higher percentage of belly flab than those who don’t sip the beverage, a study in the journal Obesity found. Why? Researchers think diet soda drinkers may overestimate how many calories they’re “saving,” and then overeat.

  • Pizza

    A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips? How about this: A night at the Hut, a lifetime in the gut. In fact, pizza is the second biggest contributor of saturated fat to the American diet (just below cheese itself), and most slices serve up half a day’s worth of the artery clogger. Researchers have found that unlike other fats, the saturated variety is the most likely to be stored in the stomach.

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  • French Fries

    Any fat-laden carb fest will make you gain weight, but there’s something almost magical about the effects of fried spuds on your body’s fat-storage system--and by magical, we mean Voldemort, not Potter. One 20-year Harvard study found that people who ate fries regularly gained more than three pounds of body weight every four years; over the course of the study, the french fry eaters gained 15 pounds of belly flab from fries alone!

  • Rib-Eye Steak

    Wait—don’t toss your steak knife at us yet! Studies show that eating the right cuts of steak can actually help whittle your middle. But rib-eye, along with T-bone and New York Strip, is one of the three fattiest cuts known to man or cow; in a study by Chinese researchers, consuming a diet rich in fatty, fresh red meat is positively associated with abdominal obesity and larger waist circumference.

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  • Fruit Juice

    Although 100 percent fruit juice is superior to soda, it still packs up to 36 grams of sugar per cup—or about what you’d get from popping 4 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts into a blender and hitting frappe. What’s more, most of the sweetness in juice comes from fructose, a type of sugar associated with the development of visceral adipose tissue—yep, that’s belly fat.

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  • Bottled Water

    Before your next swig, check your water bottle: Many are made with a plastic called bisphenol-A, an endocrine disruptor that can affect how your body produces insulin and trick the body into producing fat. According to a study published in the journal PLoS One, small amounts of BPA can cause the pancreas to produce double the amount of insulin, desensitizing the body to the fat regulator and causing weight gain and diabetes.

  • Tilapia

    A fish that's worse for you than bacon? Tilapia more than earns that dubious honor. Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (135 mg vs. more than 2,000 mg in wild salmon) and is sky high in omega-6 fats, which studies have proven to harm the heart, the brain, and the abs: They cause inflammation throughout the body, turning your six-pack into a keg.

    LOSE UP TO 16 POUNDS IN 14 DAYS! FOR 150+ recipes that flatten your belly fast—made with the foods you love—buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko that's already topping the Amazon charts: Zero Belly Cookbook</

  • Sugary Cereal

    Those brightly colored boxes might give you a swell hit of childhood nostalgia, but eat too much sugary cereal and you'll be nostalgic for visible abs. Scarfing too much sugar can lead to obesity and attendant health problems like diabetes and heart disease. And many cereals pack more sugar into one bowl than you’ll find in a Boston Kreme Donut!

  • Chinese Food

    Aside from being sky-high in bloating sodium, Chinese food is often loaded with MSG, a flavor enhancer that research suggests causes a drastic increase in appetite. People who consume the most amounts of MSG are more likely to be overweight compared to those who have no MSG in their diet.

    LOSE UP TO 16 POUNDS IN 14 DAYS! FOR 150+ recipes that flatten your belly fast—made with the foods you love—buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko that's already topping the Amazon charts: Zero Belly Cookbook

  • Ice Cream

    There's no faster way to freeze your flat-belly progress than to indulge in ice cream too often. Even “premium” ice creams are overloaded with sugar and soybean oil, a fat that’s been linked to weight gain.

  • Bottled Smoothies

    Smoothies = healthy, right? Not when they're bottled. Compared to fresh-made drinks, most bottled smoothies fall short on nutrition and are so calorie- and sugar-filled that you’d have to spend hours on the treadmill to burn them off.

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  • Packaged Biscuits

    Most packaged breakfast biscuits are packed with trans fats, an artificial fat—invented to make baked goods more shelf-stable—that’s been linked heart disease. Each of Mary B's Buttermilk Biscuits carries three grams a pop (which is more than a day’s worth). And though the nutrition label on Pillsbury Grands! Buttermilk Biscuits reads “0 grams” in the trans fat column, it’s made with hydrogenated soybean oil—a dead giveaway that there are traces of the dangerous fat in the biscuits.

  • Chewing Gum

    Chewing gum may seem like a harmless habit, but one too many sticks can give whole new meaning to the phrase “bubble butt.” Sugarless gums typically contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known for causing bloating and other gastrointestinal distress. Sorbitol takes a relatively long time to digest, and undigested sorbitol in your small intestine acts as a hothouse for the fermentation of bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. Additionally, each chomp sends a signal to your brain, triggering hunger hormones.

  • Protein Bars

    These alleged muscle-builders can make your waist balloon instead. Many "nutrition bars" contain protein isolate derived from soybeans, which contain oligosaccharides, sugar molecules that the body can’t break down entirely. With nowhere to go, these oligosaccharides hang out in the digestive tract, where they ferment, causing gas and bloating of the stomach. Consider a soy-free brand like Larabar or KIND instead.

  • Dried Fruit

    Dried fruit is nature's candy — emphasis on candy. Sugar is more concentrated in dried fruit, and manufacturers often coat it with even more sugar. Plus, it can also be a source of bloat-making gas for those who suffer from fructose malabsorption, which occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing the natural sugar. Dried fruits are particularly high in fructose; fresh is always a better option.

  • Canned Soup

    How about a piping-hot bowl of salt? Soup can hide sky-high sodium counts that may lead to water retention and temporary weight gain. (Canned chilis in particular can have more than 800 mg of sodium per serving.) When you overload your system with salt, your kidneys can’t keep up; salt that would otherwise be flushed away has to sit in your bloodstream, where it attracts water, causing increased blood pressure and bloating. Look to stay under 500 mg if possible; Campbell’s Healthy Request, Progresso Light and V8 all make reasonable options.

  • Granola

    Kick this health-food impostor out of your kitchen ASAP. “One tiny cup of granola has nearly 600 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 24 grams of sugar," says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group. "That’s the equivalent of starting your morning with two slices of cheesecake.”

    LOSE UP TO 16 POUNDS IN 14 DAYS! FOR 150+ recipes that flatten your belly fast—made with the foods you love—buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko that's already topping the Amazon charts: Zero Belly Cookbook!

  • Low-Fat Foods

    Once again: Fat doesn't make you fat, excess calories do. Typically, low-fat foods save you only a few calories and, in doing so, they replace harmless fats with low-performing carbohydrates that digest quickly—causing a sugar rush and, immediately afterward, rebound hunger.

  • Nutella

    Satiating and protein-rich, nut butters are one of the best Zero Belly foods. Nutella is not. “Nutella is one of those foods that people believe to be healthy because it contains a nut,” says registered dietitian Leah Kaufman. “But check the ingredients: spreads like Nutella are primarily sugar and palm oil, with almost no actual nuts involved. With over 20 grams of added sugar and only two grams of protein, the spread just winds up at your waist.”

  • White Bread and Refined Grains

    There's no sugarcoating the effects that white bread and refined grains can have on your waistline. The body converts refined carbohydrates into sugar and then glucose; if you have an excess of glucose, it's stored as fat. What’s more, refined grains cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, leading to spikes and crashes that cause overeating.

  • Booze

    Alcohol is much more than empty calories — much worse. “For starters, alcohol negatively affects the entire body: the brain, liver, heart and emotional well-being," says Jim White RD, ACSM HFS. "And because it makes you sluggish and dehydrated, it can also make your cardio and weight training less effective and slow your progress. Although alcohol is a carbohydrate, it does not convert to glucose like other carbs. Instead, it becomes a fatty acid, which is more likely to be stored as fat.”

  • Sports drinks

    Gatorade markets itself as a recovery drink, but consume too much of it and you'll be searching for your abs. Although it provides critical post-workout electrolytes like sodium and potassium, it also serves up a ton of calories and sugar: 56 grams (more than a day’s worth) in a 32-ounce bottle.

  • White Sugar

    According to the CDC Americans eat a whopping 82 grams of added sugar a day—which is 37 grams above the recommended intake! There’s a gross factor to white sugar, too: Refined white sugar is bleached in a process that entails running the sugar through “bone char” or “natural carbon”—both fancy terms for charred cattle bones. Confectioner’s and brown sugar can also be culprits, as they are variations of white sugar.

  • Fruit Yogurt

    All yogurts contain some sugar in the form of lactose (milk sugar); it’s the added sugar typical of “fruit” yogurts that you need to watch out for. Make sure all sugars are accounted for in the ingredients list and none come from “sugar” or “high fructose corn syrup.”