Do you feel like you are constantly fighting a war on belly fat? I know for many it feels like a losing battle no matter what they do, including choosing what is touted as healthy food choices. There are 5 foods in particular that many eat on a regular basis in a quest to lose weight that could be having the opposite effect.

Energy/Granola/Protein Bars
Most bars have somewhere between 4 and 10 teaspoons of sugar – and no matter how convenient or “healthy” these bars are supposed to be, that much sugar is not healthy. Because this sugar isn’t combined with protein or fat you will be hungry again shortly, triggered by a sudden rise and fall in blood sugar. This hunger and fluctuation in blood sugar calls insulin into action to balance things out, which causes trouble because insulin is essentially your fat storage hormone.

Eggs – Hold the Yolks
Eggs are a great, quik and convenient source of protein – when you eat the entire thing! Egg whites alone are not bad by any stretch of the imagination but when you skip the yolk you are missing the healthy fat, vitamins and minerals which shortchanges you on all the benefits this food offers. It sounds counterintuitive but avoiding fat is one of the biggest mistakes someone that is trying to lose weight can make. Healthy fat regulate blood sugar levels and insulin (remember the fat storage hormone) and keeps you fully longer. So next time order up the whole egg – maybe even 2!

In its original form yogurt is a super-hero of food – probiotics for a healthy gut, a dose of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium, and magnesium. Unfortunately, with its popularity, food manufacturers have morphed this superfood into a highly-processed hotbed of chemicals, sugar (up to 9 teaspoons), or even worse artificial sweeteners. When noshing on yogurt opt for a plain, full-fat version and then flavor it with walnuts, cinnamon, chia seeds or fresh berries.

Individually Packed Oatmeal
Single-serving packets of oats are genius – in theory! While they help you control your portions, they are saturated with sugar (4 to 5 teaspoons per serving) and lack the protein and fat that will help keep you full and regulate blood sugar. Like yogurt, it is best to stick with the plain old original oats and then add your own zing with almonds, raisins, cinnamon, etc.

Like so many food options smoothies are awesome – IF and only if you are making them and controlling the ingredients. At home you can add in avocado, spinach, fresh fruit and even peanut butter to boost the nutritional value and and keep the sugar levels down. Unfortunately, many opt to purchase smoothies with can have more than 15 teaspoons of sugar per 16 ounce serving!

The secret to getting rid of your belly is to focus on eating real food – avoid processed or packaged food and be aware of added sugar. To stay full and keep blood sugar (and insulin) balanced focus on adding protein and healthy fats to your diet.