Most of us want a flatter belly. Many people do endless sit ups to achieve this, but if you want to see a flatter tummy or to see more muscle definition, you don’t need more crunches – you need less lunches (heavy ones that is – and dinners!)
Following the steps below will help reduce water retention and bloating, and help you feel slimmer around the waist. Losing bloat is different to burning fat, but it can still create an improvement in your appearance, and of course your confidence.
Basically, a flatter belly mostly comes down to you being in a calorie deficit. This means ensuring your calorie output is greater than your calorie input i.e. doing exercises than burn a lot of calories, and taking in less food than your body is using, to reduce body fat. But the problem may not just be excess body fat but a bloating issue, here are our top five tips to reduce bloat:
Tip 1 – Say goodbye excess salt
Water is attracted to sodium, so when you eat sodium in higher than usual amounts, you may feel puffy and bloaty. Be aware of salt that is hidden in food, such as canned food, pre-packaged deli meats, soy sauce, takeaways etc.
Tip 2 – Cut the processed carbs
Unless you’re really active, maybe you don’t need all the high-carbohydrate starchy foods like pasta, white bread and white rice. If you have a belly that paunches out, you should consider reducing or eliminating all processed white carbs. In a few days, you’ll more than likely feel a lot trimmer.
Tip 3 – Ditch (or reduce) the dairy
Dairy intolerance is now thought to affect as much as 75% of the population, with symptoms including stomach bloating. If you suspect you may be intolerant, try replacing your dairy foods with some different and new foods for a change to see if it makes a difference. You won’t know until you try. If you are eating other foods high in calcium, such as green leafy veges, almonds and oily fish, maybe you can survive without milk, yoghurt and creamy foods that can make you look soft and puffy.
Tip 4 – Try no chewing gum
When you chew you swallow air which gets trapped in your gastrointestinal tract and can cause bloating. Also consider seriously how many artificial sweeteners you take in regularly. Anything which states ‘excess consumption may have a laxative effect’ is usually going to cause bloating and some research states that our bodies cannot effectively break down the artificial sweeteners.
Tip 5 – Beware the bloaters
Certain foods are good for your health, but they contain complex sugars and starches that can be hard to break down and may cause bloating.
These include beans,brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bananas, citrus fruits, lentils, onions, peppers, pulses and raisins.
Now, this is obviously a fairly sizeable list of quite healthy options – this doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them all from your diet. Just be aware and watch your portion sizes and meals that contain more than one or two options from the list above.
You could try reducing or eliminating some of these items and seeing if it makes a difference. Or you may just want to be careful with them if you’re heading for a night out in a tight dress…
Other things to consider
Fizzy drinks, even plain sparkling water, can help you feel full; which is great when you want to eat less and remain in a calorie deficit. But remember those bubbles end up in your belly and may cause it to protrude more than your liking.
Stomach irritants – You may be sensitive to certain foods that cause you bloat, such as vinegar, fresh or powdered chili, black pepper, spicy foods, even ketchup. Take note which foods cause a problem and avoid or reduce them.
Eat smaller meals more often – Sometimes it’s just simply the volume of food in your stomach making you feel fat. Avoiding two or three big meals and breaking them into five or six smaller meals may help.
Eat slowly – Most of us rush our meals these days, always trying to be productive and get back to our next task. When we eat fast, we take in gulps of air which can get trapped in our digestive system. Taking your time will not only reduce bloating, but will allow you to stop and simply enjoy your meal. In many cases, we are less likely to over-eat if we eat exclusively – not while working or being entertained with the internet or T.V. If you don’t get the visual stimulation of looking at a meal while you’re eating it and enjoying the whole experience, you’re more likely to feel unsatisfied and go hunting for something else afterwards.
Go for a quick walk – If you establish the habit of a walk after a meal – even for just 5-10 minutes, the effect will add up over time in calorie burning, as well as helping get things moving in your body and releasing any air trapped that may be causing bloating.
Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Stuart Miles