The number one problem area clients point out to me is their stomach. They point to waists that have disappeared and muffin tops they WISH would disappear. They aren’t in search of a six pack. They just want to feel a little bit better in their bathing suit or fit comfortably into their favorite pair of jeans.
I explain to them that there is no way to spot reduce. A flat stomach comes from a combination of strengthening the core muscles, fat burning cardio and a clean diet. I also share that perhaps not all of their belly problems are related to fat loss. They could be experiencing belly bloat based on a number of things that can easily be corrected. Here’s a list of things I discuss with them about reducing uncomfortable belly bloat.
- Is there plenty of water going in so it can also go out?
Being dehydrated can actually cause you to retain more water. While it may seem counterproductive, to reduce bloat from water retention you need to make sure you’re drinking enough plain water. General rule of thumbs is eight 8 oz. cups per day. You can also use the “pee test”. If it’s a clear yellow, like pale lemonade, you’re probably adequately hydrated. If it’s dark yellow then you need to drink more.
- Do highly processed foods make up a large portion of your diet?
Canned, frozen and fast foods are full of sodium, which also causes you to retain water. Dietary Guidelines for Americans say to limit sodium to 2300 mg per day but the average American gets about 3400 mg per day (according to MayoClinic.org). I’ve seen the best results when clients keep it under 2000 mg per day.
- Are you consuming too many “diet” or “sugar free products”?
These products typically have artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, both of which can lead to gas and bloating. Stick with naturally sweet foods or small portions of the real thing.
- Is there enough fiber in your diet?
Women should get a minimum of 25 g of fiber per day. Without adequate fiber things might not be moving the way they should. The back up can cause bloating and discomfort. It’s important to make sure you have high fiber foods like beans, oats, lentils broccoli and pears on heavy rotation in your meal plan.
- Where is your stress level?
Being in a constant state of fight or flight can cause increased cortisol levels. This hormonal shift can lead to excess weight gain in the belly. While this isn’t exactly bloat it can be a huge contributor to weight gain in the midsection. You can’t fight it with a pill (except maybe a little extra vitamin C) but you can fight it with a daily does of meditation.
By paying attention to these five things you can make a big difference not only in how your midsection looks but also how you feel. Being hydrated will improve mental clarity and energy. Less processed foods and more high fiber whole foods will also help your energy levels while meditation may help you sleep better at night. And we feel better on the inside we ALWAYS look better on the outside!
What can you do for your insides today? More water? Less diet soda or sugar free jello?