Four types of foods to avoid for fat loss

Healthful eating starts with supportive nutrition. This means clean eating, or choosing foods that provide you with essential nutrients, including healthful fats (such as Omega-3), antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and especially protein.

The easiest way to start eating clean is to get rid of the food in your day that supports your goals the least.

What you are about to read consists of four unsupportive, unhealthful foods, but it is not exhaustive. But replacing these foods in your day with better options will go a long way to ensure you are on the right path to consistent clean eating.

Here are my top four "do not eat" foods:

1. Processed, packaged foods. Processed packaged foods are loaded with preservatives, sodium and other harmful ingredients. Sodium, for one, has been linked to hypertension. It is best to "buy fresh."

 2. Refined sugar and sweeteners. Sugars and artificial sweeteners are added to lots of drinks and foods. See a so-called "healthy" yogurt in a 100-calorie pack? Read the label. Chances are it is so loaded with added sugar that it's like eating a 100-calorie candy bar. Totally empty.

As for artificial sweeteners, studies show that people who drink diet sodas with artificial sweeteners simply crave sugar more often and end up eating more sugar as well.

3. White bread, cereal and pasta. These are hard foods to stop eating for most people. They are essentially just carbohydrates and little else. You should focus your energy on getting carbs from fibrous fruits and vegetables. Fiber is harder to break down by the body, and it requires more energy expenditure to digest. Simple carbs like those found in white bread, cereal and pasta do not have much fiber and actually cause insulin spikes. An added note: Most sweetened kid's cereals (i.e. Cap'n Crunch, Reese's Cereal, etc.) are basically like eating candy for breakfast. Skip 'em.

4. Alcohol. Alcohol, like a soft drink, is an example of a high-carb, low-nutrient beverage. The calories from alcohol can't even be used as energy, so they are converted into body fat rather quickly. You want to get most of your calories from healthful foods, not from unhealthful drinks. Ever hear of a beer belly? I thought so. Excessive alcohol consumption will undermine your best fitness efforts if you let it — so don't let it.

Begin replacing these foods in your daily nutrition immediately, and you'll begin to watch the extra pounds and inches drop off quickly and more consistently. Don't replace them and, well, get used to looking and feeling the same next November. Train harder, and eat smarter for a healthier 2013.

Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.home for more information.

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