Determining the cause of your belly fat isn't as simple as doing a quick Google search. Your search results may help you pinpoint possible contributing factors, but at the end of the day, it will vary from person to person. What you eat and your activity level can affect your body composition, and to figure out if there are foods correlated with higher levels of belly fat, POPSUGAR spoke to Nicole Lund, MS, RDN, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone's Sports Performance Center.
"It's a hard answer because there's a lot of things at play," Nicole told POPSUGAR. "There are a lot of hormonal implications with belly fat. There's the genetic component," she said. Nicole also explained that as women age, "they tend to carry more weight in their belly, and that's just the shift in the estrogen and testosterone."
Another factor that contributes to belly fat is your body type. This is because everyone stores fat in different regions of the body. As far as food is involved, Nicole explained that another culprit of belly fat is food sensitivities. "That's why I think everyone's a little bit different. It's hard for us to say, 'Oh yeah, dairy or bananas' . . . because I think everyone is sensitive to different foods.'"
Nicole explained that people have their own individual responses to certain foods and how their bodies digest them, which is why some people choose to cut out particular foods. There isn't a universal list of foods that cause belly fat, but Nicole said dairy, sugar, and different fruits with high amounts of fructose can cause bloating, gas, and GI distress, which often appear as belly fat.
By removing offenders that trigger a bad response from your body, Nicole said you can expect to have a flatter stomach. Stress, hormones, a poor diet, and low activity levels are contributing factors to belly fat, and body fat in general, which it's why it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you eat clean and exercise and still aren't able to lose body fat, we recommend speaking to your physician or an endocrinologist.