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Have you ever woken up with a flat stomach, and then you start to experience belly swelling and bloating as the day progresses? Maybe even to the point where you actually feel pregnant at the end of the day?
It's awful to start your day feeling great and like you're making progress with your weight loss goals, only to feel bloated and swollen before you go to sleep. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it?
That's exactly what I want to share with you. I want to help you correct this issue so you can get healthy and look good while you do it.
In this article:
What Causes Belly Swelling and Bloating?
There are two reasons why you might wake up with a flat stomach and go to bed with a swollen stomach—and it's not constipation or fizzy drinks. It could either be due to high insulin or low cortisol.
Most likely, you're experiencing this issue because of high insulin. It's actually pretty rare for it to be caused by low cortisol. However, I want to dive into both of these potential causes to make sure we cover all the bases.
1. High Insulin
This is the most common cause behind feeling bloated and getting a swollen stomach as the day progresses. Really, the cause of this high insulin goes back to something called insulin resistance. So many people have insulin resistance, and many don't even realize it. This is a huge problem facing us today.
If you have insulin resistance, that means you have high insulin. High insulin is one of the symptoms that lets you know you are in a prediabetes state.
Essentially, insulin resistance is the body's defense mechanism against excess sugar. Insulin keeps your blood sugars from going to high. Too much sugar is toxic to the body. It can not only contribute to you feeling bloated, but it can also cause diabetes and may have negative effects on your heart, brain, and much more.
Insulin responds to sugar, or anything that turns into sugar, and is meant to detoxify excess sugar. If your blood sugar is too high, your body forces itself to make more and more insulin to try to lower the blood sugar. However, too much insulin is also not a good thing.
A few of the risk factors of insulin resistance are:
- Being overweight or obesity
- Following a high-sugar, high-carb, high-calorie diet
- Having zero to minimal physical activity
- Taking high doses of steroids over a long period
- Having chronic stress
A few of the symptoms of insulin resistance are:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain, especially around the abdominal area
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
Why Does High insulin Cause Swelling and Bloating?
So, now you know a little bit more about high insulin. But why exactly does it cause bloating throughout the day?
Well, something else that you really need to know about insulin is that it's an inflammatory hormone. Insulin will create inflammation. If you have too much insulin, you're going to create inflammation in your gut around the fat. This inflammation is what's causing you to swell and feel bloated.
What increases insulin in the first place? Well, besides the sweet sugary foods you might first think of first, eating carbs will do it, and so will combining protein and carbohydrates together.
But, the biggest thing that can increase insulin is simply eating in general. Yes, eating. Every time you eat, you increase insulin. Of course, I'm not saying to stop eating altogether. But, the frequency that you eat could be a problem. For example, if you do five small meals a day, you're continuing to increase insulin, and you're going to feel bloated.
How to Fix High Insulin
One of the best things to do to fix belly swelling and bloating as the day progresses is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is basically not eating. You're not starving yourself. You're just eating fewer meals. With intermittent fasting, you eat when you're actually hungry, and you don't eat when you're not hungry. You let your body dictate when it needs to eat and how long it can go without eating.
It can take some time to adapt to intermittent fasting. It's best to start small and increase the amount of time you go without food as you feel comfortable. It may be challenging at first, but the benefits are well worth it. After some time, you will even notice that your hunger just goes away.
Decrease your carbohydrates and take advantage of intermittent fasting. Start by only eating three meals a day and cutting out all snacks. Then, try cutting it down to two meals a day. After that, some people prefer to cut down to one meal a day. But, if you can just get down to two meals a day, you shouldn't feel swollen or bloated anymore.
2. Low Cortisol
Low cortisol is a less likely cause of belly swelling and bloating as the day progresses, but it could still be a factor.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that acts as an anti-inflammatory. It's responsible for a lot of processes in the body, especially controlling blood sugar levels, metabolism, and response to stress.
We talked about how high insulin could be caused by insulin resistance. Well, similarly, one of the causes of low cortisol could be cortisol resistance. Cortisol resistance often happens from being under a lot of stress for a long period of time.
During this time that your body is being exposed to the effects of high cortisol levels, your cortisol receptors are being downgraded or blocked.
Now, your body can no longer absorb cortisol when it's needed to cope with a stressful situation. If you have low cortisol, you could also experience symptoms like fatigue and weakness, or digestive issues like stomach pain and the need to frequently empty the bowel.
Low cortisol can cause:
- Low immunity
- Low Stress Tolerance
- Low Vitamin D
- Poor Memory
Why Does Low Cortisol Cause Swelling and Bloating?
Cortisol is actually very beneficial to the body. It helps you. But, too much of it or too little of it can really mess you up.
Like I mentioned before, cortisol is an anti-inflammatory. When you start to run out of cortisol, your body gets inflamed. You can become especially inflamed around the stomach. This inflammation can cause symptoms like swelling and bloating.
How to Fix Low Cortisol
To fix a low cortisol problem that could be causing your stomach to feel swollen or bloated, there are a few things you can try:
- Support the adrenal gland
- Lower your stress
- Go for long walks
- Vitamin D
- High amounts of potassium
Final Take Away
Many people become bloated from time to time. Feeling bloated could be due to many different reasons such as digestive issues like constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome. You might even consider your swelling and bloating symptoms and assume it's an issue like constipation or irritable bowel syndrome without giving it much thought.
But, what if it's not a problem with the bowel or intestines at all? Think about your symptoms a little harder. If you start your day with a flat stomach, and then you experience belly swelling and bloating as the day progresses, it could be one of two issues.
The first possible cause (and the most likely) is that you have high insulin. The second possible cause is that you have low cortisol. Try the simple and natural remedies above, and see how they work for you.
Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.