Avoid Bloating - Get a Flat Belly

By Patrick Drew, updated March, 2014

male atheleteSo… looking lean and mean. Svelte and sculpted… a dream for most of us as we try to squeeze ourselves into a pair of jeans that honestly are a size too small. But hey, we all want to look good… and that flat belly is the ultimate!

Sometimes though… we just bloat! You know the feeling when you bend over and there is just a bit too much belly in the way, or when we walk past a mirror and see a bit more tummy than the day before!? And we hate it!

This is not a discussion about excess tummy fat. This is about the abdominal distention that is temporary in nature and affects almost each person once in a blue moon. Mayo Clinic specialist Michael Jensen, MD (obesity researcher and endocrinologist) declared that the possible causes of transient abdominal distention are: heart disease, liver disease, or intestinal gas. It’s never the accumulation of too much water as many surmise.

Dr. Jensen said that the perception of many people that bloating of the stomach is due to fluid accumulation is a myth. He explained that the primary reason for this is that fluid does not collect in the abdomen. When there is excess fluid, the ankles and the feet get bloated instead. This is most evident when the person is upright.

1. Live a life free of constipation.

Problems related to constipation are due to the lack of fluids, fiber in the diet, and physical inactivity. This also results in abdominal bloating.

Here are a few helpful suggestions. First of all, add more fiber to your diet. The recommended fiber content is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Foods rich in fiber include vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, grains, and fruits. People are also advised to drink lot of fluid—as much as six to eight glasses of clean water each day. It is also good for the body to engage in 30 minutes of high-level physical activity five times per week.

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2. Check for Lactose Intolerance and Allergic Reaction to Wheat.

Excessive intestinal gas and abdominal bloating may also be due to lactose intolerance and food allergy. You need to consult with your doctor to rule out these diagnoses. Some people just remove whole grains and dairy products from their diet without confirming whether they do have intolerance or allergy. To make sure, see your doctor and he or she will recommend the necessary tests.

If you are concerned about the possibility that you have these conditions, modify your diet to include yogurt and aged cheeses instead. These have lower lactose content. Also, reduce the amount of possibly harmful food in your daily meals.

3. Eat slow and don’t rush eating

According to the author of The Flexitarian Diet, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, bloating may also be caused due to the swallowing of air during meals. A person who eats fast and does not chew food well, tend to swallow a high amount of air, and this is not good if you want a flat belly.

If you don’t want your tummy to bloat, eat more slowly. Take at least 30 minutes to enjoy and finish a meal. Blatner stresses that better digestion lowers the likelihood of getting bloated. Chewing food slowly and more thoroughly helps break up the food in the mouth. It’s where the process starts, anyway. Taking your time to enjoy the food that you eat makes the whole endeavor more satisfying. There are also studies that say eating slowly makes a person eat less.

4. Lower the Intake of Carbonated Drinks.

Did you know that the fizz in carbonated beverages could end up as gas trapped inside your belly? Blatner advises people to cut down on their daily intake of carbonated drinks. He also suggests that water flavored with cucumber, lime or lemon is the better alternative. In fact, peppermint tea helps decrease bloating and it is also very soothing to drink.

5. Don't Chew Gum Too Much.

Did you know that chewing too much gum leads to accumulation of air inside your belly? If you can’t help but chew or bite at something, alternate gum chewing with sucking on hard candy or taking bites of low-fat popcorn, as well as snack servings of veggies and fruits.

6. Go Sugar-Free

Blatner adds that patients who suffer from abdominal bloating eat too much sweetened drinks and food. They also consume too much alcohol. All these lead to bloating because of the high carbohydrate content of these foods. Follow expert advice and do not consume more than 2-3 servings per day of sweets and sugary beverages.

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7. Monitor Your Sodium Intake

Jensen reminds people to stay away from processed food that have very high sodium content.

Blatner furthermore advises to get into the habit of reading food labels. When you buy processed, canned, or frozen foods, try to get only 500 mg of sodium per serving in any product - or a combined total of 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Look for labels that indicate "sodium free," or "low sodium," or "very low sodium."

8. Work Beans and Other Gassy Vegetables into Your Diet Slowly

If you're not used to eating beans, (a very common element in south American foods) they can cause that gassy feeling. The same for the cruciferous family of vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

That doesn't mean you should negate these super-nutritious, high-fiber vegetables, just introduce them slowly.

Blatner continues, "Don’t be nervous about beans, and just work them into your diet slowly until your body adjusts to the compounds that can initially cause gas."

Alternatively, you can take an anti-gas product, which can help reduce gas from beans or vegetables.

9. Smaller and more of them

If you want a flat belly, instead of eating three large meals per day, try eating smaller meals more often. This should keep you free of the bloated feeling that often follows large meals (think Thanksgiving and Christmas). Eating more often may also help control blood sugar by keeping it to a steady level, and manage hunger pangs better (though this claim is often disputed and debated among experts).

If you do try eating five to six small meals each day make sure the quantity of food and calories are proportionate to your needs.

10. Try Anti-Bloating Foods and Drinks

A few studies suggest that there are a few super “anti-bloat” foods that can help, such as peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple, parsley, and yogurts containing probiotics ("good" bacteria). These may help reduce bloating.

These are safe foods that are good for you when used appropriately, so why not try them and see if they help you de-bloat? – Also they all taste good!

Experts agree that you shouldn’t fast, skip meals, or use laxatives or water pills to help you de-bloat or lose weight.

Having said all this, if you're looking to flatten your belly for the long term, there's no substitute for losing a few pounds.

For almost everyone, when you lose total body fat, your body reduces belly fat preferentially. Even though people lose weight differently, there is a little more lost in the abdominal region than elsewhere. And that is good news for us all.

Experts also say that doing abdominal exercises all day long won’t get rid of the excess belly fat. Although you can’t necessarily spot reduce, you can strengthen abdominal muscles with routines like Pilates and exercise ball workouts. And, stronger muscles can help your belly appear flatter.

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We hope you enjoyed this article… and are now on your way to a less gassy, bloated, flat belly!

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