With summer fast approaching, Australians are racing against the clock to hone their dream bikini bodies.
And right on cue, Sydney-based fitness blogger Rhian Allen – aka The Healthy Mummy – has just revealed the nine foods you need to avoid to ditch belly fat for good.
Ms Allen said snacks high in trans-fat like tortilla chips, processed pastries and fried chicken should be given a wide berth, while dairy consumption should be reduced if you are experiencing bloating.
The Healthy Mummy runs a 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge which includes meal plans and recipes to help you shift stubborn inches.
The Healthy Mummy runs a 28 day weight loss challenge which includes meal plans and recipes. Perth-based mother Elle Temple (pictured) lost almost 26kg in 16 months
1. SOFT DRINKS
Soft drinks are a major contributor to belly fat, thanks to their high content of empty calories and processed sugar like fructose.
The body struggles to burn fructose and other additives, especially around the waist, meaning high consumption will lead to significant belly fat over time.
Diet drinks should be avoided too, according to Ms Allen, because they also contain high volumes of artificial sweeteners.
Drink three litres of water a day to help shift belly fat instead.
Spreads like butter and margarine after often silent contributors to weight gain around the stomach as they form the base for the majority of baked goods and rich dishes.
Margarine is filled with trans-fat and is found in unlikely products like crackers and microwave popcorn, so be sure to read ingredients carefully before tucking in.
3. PROCESSED BAKED TREATS
While they may be quick, easy and undeniably delicious, baked treats like doughnuts, sweetened croissants and muffins are all bad news for belly fat.
Sugar increases inflammation which is the root cause of many autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well heightening the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Steer clear of processed sugary snacks to improve overall health, not just weight gain.
Food high in processed sugar, like doughnuts, increases inflammation in the body and significantly contributes to weight gain around the midriff (stock image)
4. DAIRY PRODUCTS
While a certain amount of dairy is beneficial for general health, if you are experiencing bloating directly after eating it could be a sign of lactose intolerance.
Ms Allen advised reducing your intake of cheese, yoghurt, milk and ice cream to trial the result.
A wide variety of dairy-free alternatives are available in Australia like almond milk, oat milk and cashew cheese.
5. FRIED CHICKEN
Fast food like fried chicken may be tasty while you’re eating it, but it quickly leaves you bloated and sluggish.
Ms Allen recommended binning fast food in the run up to summer to vastly reduce your intake of sodium and trans-fat.
Deep fried food also contains scant minerals or vitamins, so opt for a healthy, home cooked meal packed with protein and green vegetables instead.
Dairy can cause bloating and sluggishness, so Ms Allen recommends reducing your intake and switching to dairy-free alternatives like almond milk and cashew cheese (stock image)
6. POTATO CHIPS
Snacks high in hydrogenated oils and trans-fat are known to increase cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, and also contribute to weight gain around the stomach.
Ms Allen advised shunning all forms of chips, even baked and low fat options, as most still contain a high number of calories which adds to belly fat.
7. WHITE FLOUR AND RICE
If you’re really serious about shifting belly fat, you’ll need to dramatically reduce your intake of white bread, flour, rice and pasta.
White carbs have already gone through numerous stages of refinement and processing, so stick to brown alternatives instead.
While cereal is a handy snack in moderation, most people unintentionally double the serving size.
If you really want to keep cereal as part of your morning meal, Ms Allen advised weighing it out in a measuring cup and choosing a dairy-free milk to go with it.
9. REFINED SUGARS AND SWEETENERS
Finally, it almost goes without saying that refined sugar is one of the first things you need to ditch in order to shed belly fat.
Processed sugar increases insulin levels which promote the storage of fat, as well as weakening the immune system.