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Top 10 Health News Stories of 2009
Belly Fattener: Doughnuts
You're pumping gas before work when you feel the siren call from the mini-mart -- a dozen glazed doughnuts waiting just for you. If you give in often enough, these round treats will round out your belly. One glazed doughnut has 260 calories. Foods like this can fit into a healthy diet if eaten in moderation. But if you eat the whole box, that's 3,120 calories. A 200-pound man would have to run about 25 miles to work that off.
Belly Fattener: Ice Cream
A Fitness magazine survey asked men what they would choose if they could have only one snack for the rest of their lives. Ice cream came in second. With a little protein and calcium, it's not a bad choice. But a typical half-cup serving of premium vanilla can have 230 calories.
Better Bet: Look for the slow-churned variety -- it's lower in fat and many flavors have only 100 calories per half cup.
Belly Fattener: Chips
So what came in first on the Fitness survey? You guessed it. Chips are the top snack men would not want to give up. A serving of 15 chips has 160 calories, and it's easy to mindlessly chomp your way through a big bag. Two tablespoons of French onion dip will add another 60 calories and 5 grams of fat.
Better Bet: Fat-free popcorn. Six cups has just 100 calories.
Belly Fattener: Bacontini
It's as fatty as it is trendy. This manly cocktail consists of scotch or vodka infused with bacon fat, sometimes served with a strip of caramelized bacon. At around 284 calories a pop, the bacontini is worse than a doughnut.
Better Bet: Classic martini. The alcohol is still fattening, but your arteries might just prefer the olive to the strip of bacon.
Belly Fattener: Beer
The average 12-ounce can of beer contains about 150 calories. Have a couple every night, and it won't take long to sprout the infamous beer belly. If your waist size expands to more than 40 inches, you'll have a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer.
Better Bet: Light beer averages about 100 calories a can.
Belly Fattener: Hot Dogs
There are few pastimes more all-American than cheering for your favorite baseball team while noshing on a hot dog. If you start adding extras, this snack becomes as fattening as a full-blown meal. One cheese dog has 390 calories and 8 grams of saturated fat.
Better Bet: Peanuts. This classic ballgame snack is high in protein, fiber, and good fats.
Belly Fattener: Fatty Red Meat
If you're the meat and potatoes type, few meals are more tempting than a big, juicy steak that covers your whole plate. But a 16-ounce prime rib can have more than 1,000 calories and 37 grams of saturated fat. Add sides and an appetizer, and dinner at your favorite steakhouse can add up to more than a day's worth of calories and artery-clogging saturated fat.
Better Bet: A fist-sized portion of lean meat, such as sirloin, tenderloin, or flank steak.
Belly Fattener: Pepperoni Pizza
Whether it's at poker night or a school fundraiser, you probably wolf down a few slices of pizza every week. If you're partial to toppings like pepperoni, sausage, ham, and beef, you could take in more than 300 calories per slice.
Better Bet: Top pizza with veggies to get extra fiber and nutrients. You'll shave up to 100 calories per slice.
Belly Fattener: Giant Burgers
Fast-food chains seem to be trying to one-up each other with gargantuan burgers. Wendy's latest is the Baconator Double with 930 calories and 58 grams of fat. McDonald's Angus Bacon & Cheese packs 790 calories and 39 grams of fat, and Burger King's Triple Whopper has a whopping 1,140 calories and 75 grams of fat.
Better Bet: A single grilled burger made with lean ground beef.
Belly Fattener: Super-Size Fries
Want some fries with that? Most of us do, but you might be surprised to learn that a large order of fries can have as many calories as a typical burger. And unfortunately, fried potatoes offer few nutritional benefits compared to other vegetables.
Better Bet: Side salad or fruit cup.
Belly Fattener: Caffeinated Soda
There's no denying it -- soda that is spiked with caffeine is great for a pick-me-up before a dull meeting or boring lecture. But toss a few of these back each day and the calories add up fast. One 20-ounce bottle packs 250 calories, along with the caffeine, similar to other full-sugar sodas.
Better Bet: Black coffee. A 20-ounce cup has virtually no calories. If you like it with milk, use the nonfat kind to stay under 100 calories.
Belly Fattener: BBQ Pork Sandwich
Tailgate party essentials include beer, chips, and BBQ pork sandwiches on fluffy white rolls. The shredded pork may hit the spot before you settle in for the game, but each sandwich can have nearly 610 calories.
Better Bet: Lean grilled chicken or burgers on whole wheat buns, baked beans, and coleslaw.
Belly Fattener: Buffalo Wings
A typical order of chicken wings has about 700 calories. If you have a taste for boneless buffalo-style, you can make that a whopping 1,160 calories, not including decadent dips. Blue cheese dipping sauce will add another 240 calories and 26 grams of fat to your meal. It's easy to see why wings are best enjoyed only occasionally.
Better Bet: Grilled chicken strips.
Belly Fattener: Rack of Ribs
Gnawing rib meat off the bone may be satisfying, but a whole rack of ribs has 1,000 calories and a day's worth of fat. The sauce is usually loaded with additional calories, sugar, and sodium.
Better Bet: Splurge with half a rack of ribs and a baked sweet potato with a squeeze of lime juice or sprinkle of cinnamon for less fat, calories, and a good dose of vitamins and minerals.
Belly Fattener: Cherry Danish
A cherry Danish might seem like a quick and nutritious breakfast, but don't let the fruit content fool you. A typical fruit pastry is not a healthy snack. One Danish contains about 440 calories and may pack some trans fats to boot. Trans fats greatly increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease.
Better Bet: Fresh whole fruit and low-fat yogurt.
Belly Fattener: Mega Frozen Dinners
When you get home from a long day at work, you might want nothing more than to plop in front of your TV with a quick and easy frozen dinner. But some brands -- including those marketed to hungry men -- can be very high in calories, sodium, and trans fats.
Better Bet: Read nutrition labels for lean frozen dinners made with whole grains.
Belly Fattener: All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
It's tempting to try and get your money's worth when you hit the buffet, but the calories add up quickly. If you can't resist piling your plate high, try to make nutritious choices. Take up space with steamed vegetables and salad, and go light on the fatty dressings and sauces.
Better Bet: Steer clear of buffets if you have trouble setting limits.
Lose the Gut: Yogurt
Not everything you eat will pad your belly. In a recent study, yogurt (along with vegetables, whole grains, fruits and nuts) was identified as one of the foods that do not contribute to weight gain. Another study showed that adding yogurt decreased total body fat and belly fat. As a bonus, eating low or nonfat yogurt will boost calcium and vitamin D, nutrients typically lacking in adult diets.
Lose the Gut: Blueberries
Another tasty food that may help reduce belly fat is the blueberry. In a recent study, rats that ate blueberry-rich diets lost abdominal fat and improved their cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Even rats on high-fat diets experienced the benefits. Researchers believe blueberries may affect how the body stores sugar. Eating more of any fruit can help you lose weight.
Lose the Gut: Fiber Foods
Eating more high-fiber foods may be a magic bullet of sorts against belly fat. A recent study found that people who ate more soluble fiber gained significantly less visceral (belly) fat than others over five years -- regardless of changes in their body weight overall.
Tip: 10 grams of soluble fiber did the trick: the amount in two small apples, a cup of green peas, and 1/2 cup of pinto beans.
Lose the Gut: Exercise
Regular exercise can help you lose weight and keep a spare tire at bay. For a firm gut, you'll need strength training and weight loss to let those firm abs shine and steer clear of the doughnuts. If you're already overweight or obese, shedding just 10% of your weight will lower your risk for diseases related to obesity.
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