Beat the bulge: Your guide to a flatter belly

Fluids, yogurt, fiber – find out what’s best to beat the bulge

Racha Adib

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So many factors affect our belly size. The amount of fat we have in our body plays a major role in determining our waist circumference. But a whole lot of other factors such as daily stress, the lifestyle we choose to follow, and the kind of food we eat can play an equal role. And luckily there is a lot we can do about it.

Want to get the flat stomach you’ve been dreaming about? Read on.

Yogurt blast

Begin with eating yogurt three times a day. A recent study found that those who ate three yogurts a day while dieting lost 81 percent more belly fat than people who didn't eat yogurt. Research doesn’t fully understand the mechanism, and most of the time gives credit to calcium in helping you shed that belly fat or probiotics that tame your tummy bloat. Either way, the studies prove it, and that’s all that matters.

Tea time

With so many types of tea out there, its benefits can get confusing. Today we’re focusing on tea that gets rid of your distended stomach, particularly digestive tea. We’re talking about peppermint tea, green tea, and chamomile. Want to amplify their benefits? Just add in some ginger and cinnamon.

Fiber duo

Have you been adding fiber and not really reaping the full benefits? That’s because according to some recent studies, adding both soluble and insoluble fiber at once is what will really help you fight constipation. Why is that necessary? Because constipation can distend your belly. When your stools sit too long in your colon, they get fermented which results in a lot of gas being released. One easy way to get your digestive system moving is starting each morning with a breakfast cereal that contains both bran as a source of insoluble fiber and oats as a source of soluble fiber. The result? You look and feel lighter.

Drink up

You hear it all the time - drink more fluids, but not just any fluids. Your best choice is always water. Drinking enough water supports the other ways you're trying to flatten your tummy. For example, when there's enough fluid present in your system, the dual-fiber cereal you have eaten is better able to pull liquid into your lower intestine and ease constipation. It also rids you of those unnecessary wastes sitting in your body ready to be flushed out. How much water do you need? The more the better! To get rid of that bloat you need to be well hydrated, so aim for at least 2 liters of water, or 4 small water bottles, each day.

Avoid belly bloaters

So many processed products in the market today are bubble-inducing belly bloaters, the most popular being sodas and other carbonated drinks. What could be worse? If you sip these drinks through a straw. That’s because you swallow air in the process, just like when you’re chewing gum, eating hard candy, or chewing with your mouth open.

My advice - go for flat drinks such as juice. You might also want to lose the gum and candy especially since most brands contain sugar substitutes called sugar alcohols known to cause both bloating and flatulence. How can you spot them? Look for words ending with an –ol such as xylitol and mannitol.

Subtract sodium

Sodium makes you retain water, which usually sits right in your belly. Most of us eat more than the recommended amount of sodium without even adding salt to our food. Hidden sources of sodium are olives, mustard, spices, prepared soups, certain cheeses, and cold cuts.

Limiting your sodium consumption is vital but eating a diet rich in potassium can also help. This mineral helps regulate the fluid balance in your body, keeping bloat at bay. High-potassium foods include bananas, spinach, tomatoes, and asparagus. Parsley acts as a natural diuretic as well.

Get moving

Fight constipation and bloating by walking for only 10 minutes after each meal. This helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract. It also fights constipation and releases excess fluids.

Incorporate MUFAs

What is the fuss about MUFAs (Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids) lately? Some studies have proven that a diet rich in these good fats prevents central body fats. Where can you get them? MUFAs are found in olive oil, avocado, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds. Make sure to have some MUFAs in every meal.