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Almost everyone has felt the discomfort of a swelled, bloated abdomen from time to time. But if you are bloated regularly, then you'll likely want to take a look at my 5 healthy habits for bloating and belly fat to help you find some relief.
Often, bloating and belly fat can be fixed with a few simple shifts in what we eat and when we eat. You might just need to make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle habits to stop regular bloating.
In this article:
- What causes bloating and belly swelling
- 5 tips to reduce abdominal bloating
- Other things that can help with bloating
- The bottom line
What causes bloating and belly swelling?
Everyone knows how uncomfortable bloating is. You start to feel your belly protrude and feel fat and big around the middle. Especially as the day goes on. When this happens, is it time for a weight loss regime? Do you need to start counting calories and doing sit-ups to build ab muscles?
In many cases, no.
Swelling around the abdomen doesn't necessarily mean that you have gained belly fat and need to look into weight loss. Often, this kind of bloating is related to imbalanced hormone levels in the body.
So, what are the top causes of bloating?
1. High insulin.
Odds are that too much insulin causes your bloating.
So many people these days have insulin resistance, meaning that they have way too much insulin being created in the body. Insulin is an inflammatory hormone, meaning it creates inflammation and swelling. When you have excessively high insulin levels, it will cause inflammation in your gut and the stomach area will swell up.
When insulin is low, you will not have bloating in the stomach. If insulin is high, you will.
Some of the things that increase insulin include eating carbs (including sugars and grains) and eating too frequently (all eating spikes insulin to some degree).
2. Low cortisol.
A less common cause of bloating is low cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced when we experience stress. As opposed to insulin, cortisol is anti-inflammatory, meaning that it curbs inflammation. When we are under lots of long-term stress, cortisol stops working properly and things will get inflamed. This is especially true in the gut and joints.
To address low cortisol, things like stress management, adrenal support, vitamin D, and increased potassium can help.
In most cases, however, insulin is at the root of a fat, bloated belly.
5 tips to reduce abdominal bloating
Bloating is no fun at all. It can cause pain, make your clothes not fit well, and cause you to look like you've got a lot of belly fat. So what can you do about it?
1. Don't graze.
All snacking between meals has to go. This is because every time you eat, you trigger insulin. As mentioned earlier, insulin creates inflammation in your colon and can cause that uncomfortable swelling at your waist.
Instead of constantly snacking or eating several small meals throughout the day, try intermittent fasting. Start with three meals per day, with absolutely no snacking in between. Eventually, try moving to only two meals per day. Condensing your calories into shorter eating windows (and longer periods of fasting) helps you to lower insulin in the body.
Avoiding snacks will help lower insulin and stop bloating symptoms. And it will also help you to burn fat. When your body adapts to this new pattern of eating less frequently, your body will be able to feed on its fat stores instead of you needing to feed it more meals. This will help drop visceral fat and promote weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is a great weight loss tip that will help you lower belly fat and stop bloating.
2. Stay away from certain veggies.
We are all unique and different. This means that some foods will cause symptoms in certain people, while they are absolutely fine for others. There may be certain foods that make you, personally, feel bloated. Whatever those foods are, just avoid them.
For example, I personally don't do well-eating broccoli. While broccoli is certainly a healthy food that doesn't necessarily cause fat or bloating around the waistline for most people, it makes me feel bloated. My body just doesn't agree well with broccoli, so I stay away from it.
You could feel bloated from kale, cabbage, or any other vegetable. Even if it is a healthy option, if it causes bloating around your midsection then don't eat it.
3. Avoid gluten, grains, and sugar.
Grains and sugar are sure to create inflammation in the colon. This leads to increased belly fat and bloating.
Grains themselves are one of the top causes of inflammation. They are turned into sugar in the body, which spikes insulin levels and as a result makes the belly swell up.
Sugar itself spikes insulin as well, so it needs to be avoided too. When you combine sugar with protein or fat, this is even worse. Exercise your self-control muscles and cut sugar out of your diet completely.
Grains with gluten are the worst grains for this issue. Gluten is a protein found in grains that is inflammatory. It can cause swelling and make you feel bloated around the waist. Many whole grains have gluten, so even though they are touted as healthier, stay away from them too.
Instead, opt for a low-carb diet. Eliminating carbs will reduce visceral fat and bloating. My ketogenic diet approach promotes fat burning in the body, which is great for healthy weight loss.
4. Don't overeat.
It is so easy to overeat at almost any meal. This is especially true when you go out to dinner, eat with friends, or eat when distracted such as when watching TV.
But if you stuff yourself full of a bunch of excess food, then you are sure to experience abdominal bloating. It will take a long time to digest all that extra food, and when you add that on top of the food that is probably still being digested from your last meal, then problems will occur.
Overeating will also get in the way of weight loss attempts, too. To stay at healthy body weight, flex your portion control muscles and only eat as many calories as you need.
5. Avoid eating when you aren't hungry.
There is a lot of information out there pushing the idea that you have to eat breakfast every day. Or that you should eat six small meals. I even used to be a proponent of those strategies.
But that advice is no good, especially when it comes to bloating and belly fat. If you aren't hungry, then do not eat. This is one of the most important things to understand when it comes to reducing bloating.
When you add more food into your digestive system when you aren't hungry, it will just sit there. This is problematic and will cause belly fat and bloating.
Also, when you are not hungry and not eating your body is burning fat. This is a good thing. If you are familiar with keto terms, this fat-burning mode is referred to as ketosis. When the body is in "fasting" mode (meaning you aren't consuming calories), your body starts to burn fat as fuel. Every time you eat food, you stop that fat burning process.
So only eat when you are hungry. If this means skipping breakfast? Skip breakfast. If it means not eating until 1:00 in the afternoon? Then do that.
Other things that can help with bloating
Try out these additional strategies to help you reduce bloating:
For short-term help, try acupressure. Simply press and hold your hand underneath your right ribcage for two minutes. This will massage your gallbladder, helping to reduce congestion there and stimulate the release of bile. Bile helps you digest fats, and it will help get things moving when you are bloated. You can then press and hold underneath your left ribcage for two minutes, which will stimulate your pancreas to release digestive enzymes. This simple practice can give instant relief from bloating.
Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting.
The low-carb, keto approach to eating is always a great option when it comes to fat loss. It is especially helpful for reducing visceral fat around the belly. To try keto, make sure that you are avoiding high-carb foods and eating plenty of healthy fats. And try intermittent fasting. As mentioned above, this can help with reducing swelling and bloating symptoms.
The bottom line
Bloating is usually a sign that your body is not happy with what and how you are eating.
To reduce that type of uncomfortable swelling around the waistline and stomach, try out the 5 healthy habits I listed above.
- Don't snack or graze.
- Take any veggies out of your diet that make you bloat.
- Avoid grains (especially gluten) and sugar, and eat a low-carb diet instead.
- Don't overeat at meals.
- Only eat when you are hungry.
Do you get bloated? What helps you to avoid it? Share in the comments.