If you have a sweet tooth, you’re probably looking for a way to have a delicious treat at some point in the day. Thanks to grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, and even homemade recipes, it’s hard to escape the bite in a sweet baked good. However, as sweet as it sounds, desserts and baked goods can have negative effects on your health, including increased belly fat.
With so many options to choose from (and an endless craving for sweets), how will you know which baked goods to avoid, especially if you’re watching your belly fat? We spoke with dietitians on our Medical Expert Council to give us some insight into what to say “no” the next time we decide on a dessert. For more, check out The #1 Worst Breakfast for Belly Fat.
As delicious as they may be, cinnamon rolls are made with saturated fats like butter or lard, white flour, and lots of sugar. A sweet icing tops it all off. Not only are the ingredients overdone, but usually the cinnamon rolls are served in large portions, making you succumb to more of all those ingredients.
“Since we tend to store fat in our midsection from eating processed white foods and excessive amounts of sugar, cinnamon rolls may smell delicious, but they don’t help us stay slim.” , declares Amy Shapiro MS, RD.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of trans fat; artificial artificial, when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils, and of natural origin, made in the intestines of certain animals. When talking about baked goods, you’re most likely to find artificial trans fats in the ingredients, also disguised as “partially hydrogenated oil.”
Fructose-sweetened bakery products and commercial processed bakery products contain trans fats. Some examples include cakes, cookies, pie crust, dough, and crackers.
“Read labels and avoid ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable shortening and margarine,” suggests Brittany Dunn, MS, RDN, CD,
Cream-filled treats are made with a variety of processed ingredients, including food colorings, food colors, sugar, bread conditioners, and flours.
“These items also tend to contain trans fats that not only get stored around our waists, but also raise our cholesterol levels,” Shapiro says. “Excess sugar is quickly stored around our waist and since these are often high in sugar, we end up craving more and tend to eat more than one serving.”
Cereals are refined when manufacturers remove the bran and germ. Fiber and other nutrients are also eliminated.
“Higher intakes of refined grains lead to more visceral fatty tissue,” says Dunn. “Weight maintenance and weight loss goals are best supported by incorporating whole grain options into your diet, not just refined grains.”
Examples of refined grain-based baked goods to avoid include cakes, donuts, cookies, and white bread.
Choosing a baked good that doesn’t weigh down your belly fat almost seems like a lost cause. However, Dunn has a few suggestions on how to always enjoy a treat:
- Be careful of packaged and commercially processed products on grocery store shelves
- Check the ingredient list for trans fats: partially hydrogenated oil, margarine or shortening
- Choose whole grain options; if the taste or texture is not as desirable, mix half the whole wheat flour in
- Try baking your own at home to have more control over ingredients, this way you can also accommodate dietary restrictions, macronutrient content, allergies and intolerances.
Kayla Garritano is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and earned a double minor in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more