When you want to slim down, targeting belly fat can prove particularly challenging. According to the Harvard Medical School, you have to deal with not only one, but two varieties of fat when you focus on trimming down your middle. A good majority of the fat around your stomach consists of subcutaneous fat, the type of fat that feels jiggly and soft when you touch your belly. The remaining portion consists of visceral fat, and lines your vital organs. This latter type of fat can prove particularly hard to deal with, and an abundance of it may lead to conditions like dementia and a slew of cancer.
Taking aim at your belly fat not only keeps you feeling in shape, but it can also reduce inflammation by ridding your waist of visceral fat. Removing this weight is easier said than done, but luckily, keeping track of what you eat can prove indispensable when it comes to slimming down in this region. Like many other areas in the grocery store, navigating the freezer aisle takes a keen eye when you need to steer clear of certain items that can quickly add up around your midsection.
We consulted a slew of dietitians to figure out which frozen foods ranked as the most problematic around. Anyone that wants to avoid gaining visceral fat should limit these items while trying one of these Surefire Ways to Lose Visceral Fat.
Microwavable pizza pockets and their microwavable meal pocket cousins rank as some of the worst frozen items out there that build up fat around your gut.
“These conveniently packaged, and relatively tasty, pockets have been long used to meet the quick meal needs of many households,” says Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements. “Once it became clear to most consumers that their fat and sodium content, not to mention calories, have been wreaking havoc on their health for years the manufacturer suddenly released a lean version. Once again, their popularity increased and the variety offered became so extensive anyone could find their own personal preference.”
“Frozen pockets offer little in the way of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals and are significantly dense in calories and fat,” Best continues. “You may be better off to prepare your own pockets, made with eggs, whole-grain wraps, and lots of veggies to be frozen and easily accessed. This is superior over-relying on those that are dangerously high in sodium and will leave you feeling hungry shortly after due to their refined carbohydrate content.”
“Frozen pizza is a staple in many households for its convenience and ability to please most everyone at the dinner table,” Best says. “Unfortunately, there are many characteristics of frozen pizza that make it unhealthy and a contributor to belly fat, among other serious health concerns. The refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and sodium are all concerns separately, but considering frozen pizza is high in all three makes it something to consume on a rare occurrence.”
“The refined carbohydrates will be used quickly by the body and the saturated fat and source of other calories will be stored as fat around the waist,” says Best. “The sodium content of frozen pizza exacerbates inflammation and water retention, both of which can hinder weight loss, especially around the belly. Not only are the nutrients in pizza concerning, but the lack of beneficial nutrients should be noted as well. Frozen pizza contains little to no vitamins and minerals which make this meal calorie-dense, a food type that is most to blame for stomach fat.”
Sometimes you just can’t fight a craving or you don’t have the time to make dinner. When in doubt, grab one of the 25 Best Healthy Frozen Pizza Pies, According to Dietitians.
You may have heard about how ice cream merely consists of empty calories, but as it turns out, it can effectively pack on fat around your abdomen.
“We all love ice cream, but it is full of calories, fat, and added sugar which can increase belly fat and lead to weight gain,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and a member of our medical expert board. “Yes, it’s ok to indulge every now and then, but stick with a 1/2 cup portion.”
Even if you plan to diet, don’t assume you have to go forever without a scoop or three of ice cream. Just make sure one of your ice creams comes from the 13 Best Brand Name Ice Creams for Weight Loss for a good time.
When you feel like staying in and staying warm, nothing sounds better than a hot bowl of soup. Making a soup from scratch can take hours, but luckily, frozen noodle soups can tempt anyone who wants a quick, warm bite. Unfortunately, these frozen meals seriously contribute to fat development around your belly.
“These are full of sodium which can increase belly bloat and the noodles contain refined grains which may increase belly fat,” says Young. “A better option would be a high-fiber, low-sodium vegetable, split pea, or bean soup.”
“Instead of having real fruits, these mixes are full of sugars, gums, flavorings, and additives,” says Harland Adkins, RD at Fast Food Menu Prices. “It is better to shop for unsweetened, whole fruits, protein powder, and milk so you can start off your day in a healthy way.”
Don’t assume you have to rely on frozen smoothie bases to begin with. Ditch these frozen products for one of The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies and never have to worry about added sugars or gums ever again.
Just like frozen noodle soups, frozen pasta can undo all of your hard work when it comes to reducing belly fat. These items come loaded with unnecessary nutrients and in the big picture, might just add on a few extra pounds around your waist.
“Frozen pasta is full of sodium and fat, which is detrimental for your health in the long term,” says Adkins. “Instead, boil your own pasta so you can control what to put in it.“