Worst Carb For Belly Fat, Dietitians Say – Eat This, Not That

Carbohydrates, when broken down into blood glucose, are our main source of energy for our cells, tissues and organs, including our brain. To say that carbs are pure dietary evil, as many have done, is therefore pretty stupid. You can’t tie all carbs into the same category as, say, a gummy bear. It doesn’t take a degree in nutrition to figure out that a Bartlett pear is a better choice than a sugar bear.

When you’re looking to put a “#1 worst” label on something that can be fuel for your brain, then you better find a carb with no redeeming qualities. It wasn’t difficult for the Eatthis.com medical board member Amy Shapiro, MS, RDregistered dietitian. “I have to use the carbs from the sugar in the sodas,” says the founder of Real Nutrition. “These carbs are quickly consumed, don’t fill you up, don’t raise blood sugar, or provide any nutritional value. They easily meet or exceed your daily added sugar recommendation in a single 12-ounce serving.”


The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says sugary drinks like soda are likely a key driver of the overweight and obesity epidemic in the United States because of their high added sugar content and low satiety. High fructose corn syrup, one of the most common ingredients in soda, has been specifically linked to increased abdominal fat, or belly fat, due to its higher levels of fructose.

Member of the medical council Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, notes that one should not only be wary of added cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup in soda, but also added sugars from sources like beet sugar, molasses and syrups like the ones you put on pancakes and inject into your coffee. “Excess intake of added sugars, especially when eaten regularly in place of other more nutrient dense foods, is associated with chronic disease and inflammation,” she says.

Processed carbohydrates are generally unhealthy in most cases.

It’s also important to know that while sugary drinks go down much faster than, say, a croissant or a bagel, they share the same fast-absorbing carb makeup. “The challenge is that processed sugars are found in many places in the diet, from cookies and baked goods to fancy coffee drinks, breakfast bars and snacks, and often even in various ready meals and sauces,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RDdietitian and also a member of our medical review committee.

As a Certified Sports Dietitian, Goodson is acutely aware of the role of fiber-rich carbohydrates in fueling athletic performance. “No food causes anything,” she warns. “It’s the foods eaten regularly that can have an effect on health and disease. Refined or processed sugars top the charts when we talk about increasing your risk of weight gain and disease.”

Unfortunately, these are the types of foods that most Americans tend to eat a lot.

With a healthy diet, simple carbs, eaten in moderation, won’t derail your diet.

If you eat mostly nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy fatty foods high in omega-3s, and sugar pops up here and there, it tends to have little effect on your health, dietitians say. It is therefore not useful to label a food as “bad”.

A much smarter approach is to understand where added sugars are and minimize their intake so you can enjoy your favorite dessert or treat without worry or guilt.

RELATED: 5 Worst Eating Habits For Sugar Cravings, Says Registered Dietitian

Jeff Csatari

Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for publishing Galvanized Media books and magazines and advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Bethlehem Moravian University, in Pennsylvania. Read more

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