It’s one thing to have extra weight in the abdominal area that makes it appear larger, but what about the stomach with minimal fat and good muscle tone that still looks distended?
It can be very demotivating to work so hard getting those abs of steel ready for the world, only to have a puffy tummy ruin your plans to rock the skinny jeans you’d hoped to wear.
Belly bloat happens for many reasons, and most of them have nothing to do with your level of fitness. If you can figure out exactly what’s causing your abs to extend, despite your hours of crunches and calorie counting, you can eliminate this problem forever… and wear whatever you want, whenever you want.
Below are some of the reasons the abdominal area can look swollen, and 5 easy things everyone can do to avoid this annoying phenomenon:
1. Drink More Water—
What? Drink more water? But won’t that increase water weight bloating, you might ask?
Wrong. The concept of water weight being the main cause of belly bloat is a myth. When people actually do retain water, it’s often because of excess sodium in the diet, but most often presents in the feet and ankles – not the stomach area.
This doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to cut down on sodium-laden foods if you’re experiencing any type of bloating, however. Increasing potassium can also push water out of the cells, slimming your face and preventing all types of water retention.
But the most effective thing you can do to eliminate belly bloat in particular is to drink more water because dehydration can lead to constipation and gas, the main causes of this embarrassingly puffy problem.
By drinking lots of water, you’ll keep your gastrointestinal system lubricated and moving, ensuring that everything you eat goes through in a timely manner to keep gas from building up. And avoid carbonated beverages, because they contain air bubbles, which are the last thing a distended tummy needs.
2. Skip the Starches—
Have you ever looked at a starchy food in water, such as crackers, pasta or bread soaking in the sink? If you have, you probably noticed they swell greatly in size when wet.
Because they also puff up this way in your stomach, it’s best to skip simple carbohydrates and starchy foods, like white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and white flour products. Instead, stick with lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
Non-starchy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains also contain higher levels of fiber, which can help keep you regular, reducing bloating caused by constipation.
3. Work It Out—
It’s been shown in multiple studies that exercise is great for keeping the digestive system in shape, with a workout often leading to gastrointestinal movement, especially if the abdominal muscles are activated.
This means that if you were thinking about skipping the gym because you feel bloated, put on a baggy shirt and get to sweating. Because even though you don’t feel like it, that strength training or cardio session might reduce your stomach swelling. (Even just walking 15 minutes a day has been shown to reduce constipation.)
Yoga is another form of exercise that’s great for the internal organs, with certain poses that can speed up digestion and ease cramping or gas pains.
4. Flourishing Intestinal Flora—
Probiotics have been shown to help us stay healthy by boosting our immune systems, but they’re best known for the role they play in assisting with digestion and nutrient absorption.
If you’ve taken antibiotics in the last year and you’re experiencing belly bloat issues, this might be the reason, because every time antibiotics are taken they kill all the helpful intestinal bacteria along with the bad bacteria in the body, leaving your digestive system in disarray.
If you like yogurt, there are many with probiotics added that can be a great way to build up your intestinal flora, promote good digestion, and decrease belly bloat.
Kefir is a plain or flavored yogurt drink sold in many stores that contains a large amount of these beneficial bacteria, and can be easily added to your morning smoothie.
Many people simply take daily probiotics in pill form, as this allows consistent delivery of many good bacterial strains. Lactobacillus acidophilus, B. infantis and bifodobacterium lactis are 3 probiotic strains proven to specifically lessen belly bloating, so make sure you ingest them, whichever way you choose.
5. Drop the Dairy—
The first thing a doctor will usually tell a patient complaining about stomach issues is to cease all dairy. With 1 in 10 people unable to handle too much lactose, this is a common cause of bloating and cramping for many.
There are now multiple substitutes available, such as almond, soy, flax, coconut and rice milks, so sample these, find your favorite, and make the switch. If milk has been the cause of your abdominal issues, you should notice the difference within days.
You may also notice that your skin clears up and your sinuses are clearer, as food allergies can cause skin and respiratory problems as well.
Most belly bloat is caused by trapped gas, and not water retention, so as you can see from the tips above, keeping the digestive system working properly is the best way to get rid of this inner inflation. If you’re dealing with a puffy tummy, try to make some of the changes you’ve read about today, and keep the abs you work so hard to maintain looking flat and sexy, all of the time.