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How to heal a bloated belly with 6 simple steps

Wie Du einen aufgeblähten Bauch mit 6 einfachen Schritten heilst

If you're tired of struggling with a bloated belly every day and you feel like you've tried everything, then you should read this article.

That damn bloated belly. It just doesn't make sense. You've been going all out at the gym lately. Your diet has been absolutely clean. You're broke because you've stocked up on supplements to the max.

So why is your belly still bloated all the time? Why do you have to carry a baby bump around with you all day and why does your skin feel like a sponge soaked with water?

You can of course consult Dr. Google, but that won't get you very far. Skim the first few pages and you'll discover that there are about a million and one causes of a bloated belly and just as many "quick fixes" and "weird tricks" that are claimed to solve this problem for good.

You are skeptical and you should be. You may want to believe that a pill or a powder can give you a flat, defined stomach, but deep down you know that this is just wishful thinking.

And that's why it's good that you're here. In this article, you'll learn the real reasons you're constantly bloated and I'll show you 6 simple science-based strategies that can help you finally soothe and flatten your belly.

You are probably bloated for one of the following 5 reasons

In most cases, that unsightly flab around your midsection will be caused by one of 5 things.

1. too much body fat

What many people think is a chronically bloated midsection is actually just too much body fat.

First of all, bloat can come overnight, while body fat levels move up or down much more slowly.

For example, if you've ever woken up looking like a true well-toned Adonis, but by the end of the day looked more like a construction worker with a beer belly, that was bloat. Body fat doesn't accumulate that quickly - even if you binge eat.

The easiest way to tell if you are dealing with too much body fat or not is simply to measure your waist circumference at the level of your belly button every morning and every evening. If bloating is the culprit, then your readings will fluctuate wildly. If, on the other hand, body fat is the culprit, then the readings will be fairly consistent.

You should also know that your midsection will look and feel like it's bloated if you're a man with a body fat percentage over 15% or a woman with a body fat percentage over 25%.

The flat, defined stomach you want requires a body fat percentage of around 10% for men and 20% for women.

2. a lactose intolerance

Dairy products are packed with a type of sugar called lactose. In order for your body to use lactose, it has to be broken down by enzymes. The enzyme needed to break down lactose is called lactase.

The problem is that about 70% of the world's population cannot produce enough lactase, which means that they are unable to fully and properly digest lactose in dairy products.

When these undigested and partially digested sugars enter the large intestine, bacteria attack them and produce gases as a by-product. When these gases accumulate in the intestine, it swells up and voila - you are bloated.

3. irritable bowel syndrome or symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the intestines that causes pain and discomfort in the abdominal area - and one of the symptoms is bloating.

There is a long list of physical and mental health issues that are known to contribute to IBS, but I'm going to focus on one in particular here:

A type of carbohydrate known as a FODMAP, which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides.

FODMAPs are found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley, beans, dairy products and many fruits and vegetables. They can cause bloating in a similar way to lactose: they are difficult to digest and some people cannot digest them properly, resulting in undigested food entering the large intestine where it becomes food for gas-producing bacteria.

4. a sodium-potassium imbalance

Increasing your sodium intake above the norm causes your body to retain more water (1). A good portion of this retained fluid will be under your skin, making it appear thicker and softer.

This is one of the reasons why you're likely to be significantly more bloated after an epic day of eating.

This probably isn't news to you, but you may not realize how easy it is to consume too much sodium and become bloated. A measly teaspoon of salt contains about 2.3 grams of sodium and it only takes a few extra teaspoons on top of your normal intake to make a noticeable shift in the amount of water stored.

This is the reason that many cases of chronic bloating can be "cured" simply by getting your sodium and potassium intake under control.

5. hormones

Hormones are often the bogeyman when it comes to fitness. You know, belly fat, plateaus in fat loss and muscle gain, irresistible cravings, slow metabolism, etc. - blame it on those pesky hormones that conspire to keep you fat, weak and unhappy.

Well, that's simply not true. People - including some self-proclaimed gurus - love to pick on the endocrine system (the system that produces hormones) because it's a good scapegoat.

This system is so large and complex that a little pseudoscientific talk is all that's necessary to get the layperson to reach for their wallet.

The reality, however, is this:

Hormones affect pretty much every physiological mechanism in your body, but when it comes to things like stagnant weight loss, slow muscle gain and unsightly belly fat, they're rarely the problem.

The real problem is usually just a misapplication of the basic fundamentals of weight loss and muscle building.

However, when it comes to bulking up, hormonal imbalances can be an important piece of the puzzle. The best demonstration of this is an experiment conducted during World War 2 that would never pass ethics committees today.

The purpose of this experiment, conducted under the direction of Dr. Ancel Keys and known as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, was to study the physical and psychological effects of starvation and to develop an effective program to help starving prisoners of war return to a normal dietary regimen and metabolic function.

The experiment was conducted with 36 volunteers (conscientious objectors who preferred this experiment to serving on the front lines) and began with 12 weeks of hard labor and a maintenance calorie intake of about 3,200 kcal per day.

Next came the 6-month starvation phase of the experiment, which consisted of a reduction in calorie intake to around 1,500 kcal while maintaining physical labor. The scientists individually adjusted the subjects' diets with the aim of achieving a weight loss of around 25% at the end of the 6-month phase.

This starvation phase was followed by 20 weeks of metabolic rehabilitation, which consisted of restricted and unrestricted increases in calorie intake.

This study revealed a lot of fascinating facts, but I would like to focus on one particular observation at this point.

At the beginning of the experiment, subjects generally lost weight in a predictable and linear fashion, with weight loss of about 2 pounds per week.

After a while, however, the weight loss became strangely nonlinear. Sometimes the scale wouldn't move for weeks and then there would be a significant weight loss virtually overnight. As the researchers discovered, these were the effects of dramatic increases and decreases in water retention, not body fat.

This meant that these men lost fat even during the weeks when their weight did not change, but this was offset by corresponding water retention.

You may now be wondering what caused these spurts of water retention, which are also well known in bodybuilding circles. Well, some came about by chance for no apparent reason, but most followed an acute increase in calorie intake.

For example, halfway through the study, a 2,300 kcal meal was served to celebrate. The researchers noted that many of the men woke up several times the following night to urinate, and the next morning the men were several pounds lighter.

This raised the following question: What caused these men's bodies to retain large amounts of water and why did eating large amounts of food reverse this effect?

Well, the primary suspect was the hormone cortisol and subsequent research has proven this hypothesis. Studies show that a prolonged calorie deficit dramatically increases cortisol levels (2), which causes a whole range of adverse effects in the body, including increased water retention (3).

Basically, an increase in cortisol levels will also result in an increase in the amount of water your body stores, which will make you look bloated. And that's exactly what happened to the subjects in the Minnesota experiment. Feasting lowered cortisol levels (carbohydrates are particularly good at reducing cortisol levels, by the way (4)), which in turn caused rapid water excretion.

The bottom line is this: If you want to minimize potential bloat, make sure your cortisol levels aren't too high.

6 science-based ways to get rid of a bloated belly

Now that we know what the most common reasons for a bloated belly are, it's time to talk about what you can do about it. Figuring out what's causing your individual bloat can take some trial and error, but for most people the solution lies in one of the 6 tips below.

1. keep your chair moving

Before you start tinkering with your diet, make sure you're not suffering from constipation, as this will make a bloated belly worse (5).

Constipation can have a number of causes, but the cause most people have heard of - inadequate fiber intake - is rarely the reason (6). Ironically, increasing fiber intake in response to constipation can actually make it worse (7) and studies have shown that reducing fiber intake can help relieve constipation (8).

The point here is that you should just make sure you're eating enough fiber and if this can help you with your bowel movements, that's great.

Of course, laxatives can help you go to the toilet more regularly, but exercise (9) and magnesium supplementation are also two reliable ways to keep your stools moving.

2 Avoid soft drinks and other carbonated beverages

The math is simple. Bloating is exacerbated by two things: water retention and excessive amounts of gas in the digestive tract - and your soft drinks are made from water that has been mixed with carbon dioxide gas to make them fizzy, as well as sugar syrup. Carbonated drinks + your stomach = bloat

3. keep your sodium and potassium levels balanced

If your belly is bloated and you're not suffering from constipation or drinking carbonated drinks, you need to dig a little deeper to find relief for your bloated belly. And controlling your sodium and potassium intake is a good place to start.

Remember that a large increase in sodium intake can cause water retention and bloating. But you should also know that inadequate potassium intake can do the same (11).

The key here is to maintain a stable and adequate intake of both sodium and potassium. Official recommendations are 1.5 to 2.3 grams of sodium and 4.7 grams of potassium per day. (These amounts increase if you sweat a lot, as is the case with athletes. I personally consume about 3 to 4 grams of sodium and about 5 to 6 grams of potassium).

If you take a closer look at the sodium and potassium content of your diet, you'll probably find that you're eating too much sodium and not enough potassium.

Here are some simple ways to get the right intake of these two minerals:

  • Avoid processed foods, breakfast meats and other types of processed meats like sausage and franks.
  • Reduce the use of salt in cooking.
  • Look at the labels on sauces and salad dressings and choose lower salt options.
  • Include more potassium-rich foods such as beans, dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, potatoes, pumpkin, salmon and mushrooms in your diet.

4. lower your cortisol levels

Your body reacts to physical and mental stress by increasing cortisol production. This is necessary and healthy and is an integral part of the fight or flight response that has helped us survive since time immemorial.

However, the whole thing becomes a problem when cortisol levels remain chronically elevated. If you've been on a calorie deficit for too long, if you exercise too much or if you're dealing with abnormally high levels of physical or mental stress, chances are your cortisol levels have been too high for too long. And that means your body is retaining more water than it should.

Fortunately, there are some quick and easy ways to lower your cortisol levels and keep them in a healthy range:

  • Don't starve yourself to death
  • Avoid overtraining
  • Develop a daily relaxation routine
  • Forget low-carb diets
  • Have occasional refeed days during a diet
  • Do a detox week at the gym
  • Make sure you get enough sleep

5. avoid foods that are known to cause digestive problems

So far we've looked at some pretty simple strategies to combat a bloated belly. Well, this one is a little more challenging. But the good news is that I'm not telling you that you have to swear off all foods that aren't considered part of a clean diet. This is just about some specific foods that we've talked about before: Dairy and FODMAPs.

As you know, these foods can cause bloating in many people and the first step to finding out if they are the cause of your problems is to eliminate them from your diet.

Here's a list of foods you should avoid to see how your body reacts:

  • Grains such as wheat, barley and rye
  • beans
  • dairy products
  • Onions and garlic
  • artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other types of cabbage
  • chocolate
  • Fruit such as apples, apricots, blueberries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, watermelon
  • mushrooms
  • avocados
  • Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol

I know this is a long, frustrating list, but remember that this is only temporary - and even if it works, it doesn't mean you have to give up these foods forever.

Instead, you can use the approach used in testing for food intolerances and add these foods back into your diet one at a time while keeping a food diary. You will find that only a handful of these foods will cause bloating.

6. don't waste your time with natural diuretics

If this isn't the first article you've read on this topic, you've probably come across claims that certain foods and supplements can prevent a bloated belly and help you achieve the sexy flat stomach you've always wanted.

Examples include asparagus, nettle, celery, green leafy vegetables, hawthorn, bananas, olive oil, horsetail, green tea, parsley and many, many more.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find any scientific evidence that any food or supplement can reliably reduce bloat. Sure, potassium-rich foods like bananas, beans and vegetables can help if low potassium intake is the cause of your problems, but in this case it's not the food per se that helps, it's the potassium.

Alcohol is known to have a diuretic effect (12), but becoming a binge drinker is not really a viable strategy against a bloated belly. Caffeine also has mild diuretic effects, but scientific research shows that the fluid consumed with caffeine more than replaces any water excreted (13).

The bottom line is that no food or natural supplement will lead to a noticeable reduction in water retention. You will have to work a little harder for it.

The bottom line on bloated belly

I can understand if you are extremely frustrated with your bloated belly. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions. As long as your problems are not caused by a medical issue, here's what you need to do:

  1. Find out if it's just fat or actually a bloated belly.
  2. Eat enough fiber, exercise regularly and make sure you're getting enough magnesium in your diet.
  3. Reduce carbonated drinks.
  4. Make sure your sodium and potassium intake is balanced.
  5. Avoid excessive physical or mental stress.
  6. Reduce your FODMAP intake (if nothing else helps).

This will significantly reduce or eliminate your symptoms.




By Michael Matthews

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