If you’re a snacker, you know how difficult it is to give up your beloved sweet and savory bites throughout the day. But you may be surprised to learn that there are some snacking habits that secretly increase your belly fat. You heard that right! We chatted with Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer, who calls out these sneaky little culprits in their tracks so you can snack smarter and healthier moving forward.
Some studies show that your daily snacking habit could result in more gradual weight loss or weight gain, Healthline reports. One particular study published in the Journal of Hepatology had 36 lean males bump up the number of calories consumed by 40%. They did this by snacking in between larger meals. The results? These men had a substantial jump in both liver and belly fat.
Carrying around too much abdominal fat is associated with a significant amount of health risks, and it could be even more dangerous for women compared to men, according to Harvard Health Publishing. An increased amount of visceral fat encompassing your organs could lead to diabetes and put your cardiovascular health at high risk. That’s why it’s imperative to stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and ensure you’re making just the right healthy choices when it comes to eating. Manaker walks us through the snacking habits that secretly increase your belly fat.
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What are the sneaky snacking habits that increase belly fat?
First and foremost, snacking on candy that’s jam-packed with sugar is a major no-no and simply gives your body empty calories. Candy is also linked to high blood sugar. Consuming too many calories—from candy, for example—without having any fiber, healthy fats, or protein to keep you full can lead to accumulating belly fat, Manaker explains.
This leads us to our next point: You aren’t consuming healthy fats or protein with your snacks. The satiated feeling you get after enjoying a meal or a snack can stop you from overeating. “And two macros—healthy fats and protein—can help promote satiety,” Manaker tells us. So pair a high-carb snack with a nut butter, which is a stellar source of healthy fats and protein. This combo will be incredibly satisfying, ultimately helping you decrease abdominal fat.
Next up, add sugary sodas to your “stay far away from” list pronto. “Even if you are eating healthy and balanced snacks, if you are washing it down with a sugary soda, you may experience trouble reducing your belly fat,” Manaker says, adding, “Sugary soda can contribute to consuming excessive calories without even realizing it.”
Last but not least, you aren’t enjoying snacks that have probiotics. “Your gut health can impact your belly fat and weight, and not consuming enough foods with probiotics, like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi can have a negative impact on that aspect of your health,” Manaker explains.
Need some smark snacking inspiration to ward off belly fat? We have you covered. Manaker suggests enjoying fresh veggies with a healthy dip like nut butter or your favorite hummus. “The veggies are typically lower in calories and carbs, and the dips provide satiating macros to help combat belly fat,” she says.