Ease your bloat with a few simple changes.
Not only is it a marker of better health, the less fat around your midsection the lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The good news is that with a few small changes, you can make a big difference. While there are many different factors that go into obtaining a flatter midsection, such as hormones, genetics, etc., flat belly foods aren’t always one of them. That said, with goal of improving overall health, some easy tweaks can help reduce bloating and set you up for long term healthier habits without resorting to crazy (and dangerous) dieting techniques. (To this end, it’s also worth noting that weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on a diet, we invite you gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.)
The easiest place to start, and will lead to the most overall benefits, is to slowly increase your daily fiber intake. Adding too much too quickly can have the opposite effect, says Amy K Fischer MS, RD, CDN. Try adding more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains for example. Choose high fiber cereal or oats for breakfast, make your daily snacks fruit and veggie based with carrots and hummus or apple with nut butter. Try adding chia seeds, avocado and frozen raspberries into your smoothie to increase your fiber, daily vitamin and mineral intake.
For short-term de-bloating cut back on sodium, aim for less than 1,800-2,000 mg per day and watch your intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, as well as legumes. Even though they’re an extremely nutritious choice, most of the time, these fiber-rich foods can lead to some gas pain depending on how hydrated you are and how much fiber you usually eat. If your goal is to shed a few pounds while improving your overall health, eat more real, wholesome foods and get moving by incorporating daily activity. In the meantime, try these easy, science-backed changes for a flatter belly:
Go to Bed Earlier.
Getting under the covers a little sooner doesn’t just help you avoid late-night snacking. Missing out on a full night’s rest slows down your body’s metabolism, it can also lead to elevated cortisol levels which can encourage your body to store more fat. If you want to increase your calorie burn, and keep cortisol levels in check, aim for 7-8 hours of shut-eye per night.
Don’t Skip Meals.
Another metabolism-boosting tip: Eat every three to four hours, and that should include making time for breakfast. Research shows that people who miss a morning meal experience a surge in a hunger-related hormone later in the day. Regular snacks (which should include fiber-filled complex carbs and protein!) will keep you feeling full and your body burning cals at a steady rate
Perfect your Posture.
Straighten up and your figure look better right away, advises The Biggest Loser trainer Kim Lyons. “When your posture is good, you’re automatically engaging and toning your stomach muscles,” she says. If you need to remind yourself to stand tall, a few strategically placed sticky notes should do the trick.
Drink more Water.
Keep those fluids coming! “Being dehydrated causes the body to hoard water,” Lyon says, leading you to carry up to four excess pounds around your midsection. Aim for at least eight cups of water or other fluids daily.
Eat more H2O.
Yep, you read that right. High-water foods like fruits and veggies will fill you up faster. Try incorporating more salads and greens that have a high-water content like cucumber, celery and zucchini. An easy pre-dinner app of sliced crudité and spicy hummus is a healthy choice. The combo of capsaicin (a spice in hot peppers) and the chickpeas’ soluble fiber can help curb hunger.
Brew some Coffee.
Another win for your cup of joe: Caffeine in coffee can help with de bloating because it is a natural (mild) diuretic, which assist your body get rid of excess water. It is also a stimulant and can get your bowels moving which can lead to a flatter belly, Fischer says.
Snack on Nuts.
Research has linked eating nuts with having a lower waist circumference. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, making them a more satisfying pick than pretzels. Make sure you stick to the unsalted versions to stave off sodium-induced puff, and keep in mind one serving is about a small handful.
Have a Seat.
“Most women don’t want to talk about it, but you really have to set aside a specific time each day to use the bathroom,” notes Judith Reichman, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If you don’t, it’s too easy to give into feeling rushed, and ignore the urge to go.” Once you’ve trained your brain to dismiss your body’s signals, you set the stage for bloat-inducing constipation.
Add Milk to your Breakfast.
Pour low-fat milk on your morning cereal and you may have a belly-busting win. Diets high in calcium-containing foods have been linked with healthier body weight. Plus, the minerals found in dairy products — calcium, potassium and magnesium — can help to counterbalance bloat-inducing sodium.
Eat more Slowly.
Rather than scarfing down meals, make a point of chewing each bite at least 10 times before swallowing. “The body has to work overtime to break down food in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to major gas and indigestion,” Dr. Reichman says. Plus, when you eat fast, you’re more prone to swallowing air, which can ratchet up your risk of feeling a little puffy.
Choose more Probiotics.
“Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that help your digestive system break down food, preventing the gastrointestinal issues that can keep you from having a flat stomach,” explains nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., author of The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth. To ensure your plumbing is working at optimum capacity, Bowden suggests eating a daily serving of a probiotic-rich food like yogurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut or buttermilk.
Don’t forget about Prebiotics.
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that are not digested in the GI tract. They work to promote the growth of good bacteria to help create a healthy gut environment leading to less bloating. You can find prebiotics in veggies, fruit, nuts, beans, seeds and 100% whole grains, Fischer says.
Give up Gum.
Because chewing forces you to swallow more puff-producing air, it can also keep you from squeezing into your skinny jeans, explain researchers at the American College of Gastroenterology. If you need to freshen your breath, you’re better off sucking on a mint.
Walk it Off…
Even if you can’t get to the gym, try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk daily, Lyons says. The simple boost in metabolism will help you burn waistline fat more efficiently. And if you want to work out, skip those gadgets that promise “miraculous abs in minutes.” A study from Kansas State University found most devices designed to target abs (think infomercials) don’t live up to their promises. You’ll see better results with traditional exercise.
…or try Yoga.
Don’t be fooled, yoga might not be a hardcore cardio workout but it has plenty of belly-flattening benefits. Prevention’s Flat Belly Yoga program will tighten and tone your tummy in just minutes a day — no crunches required!
Add Ginger to your Diet.
Not only does ginger have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, its also a natural diuretic. Ginger has been shown to improve digestion by helping food to move through the gut at a quicker pace which reduces gas and bloating. Ginger tea is a quick and popular way to add it into your diet.