I’ve shared my frustrations before with my belly bloat, and honestly I am still at a loss on if it’s a food intolerance, posture problems/diastatis recti, or just the way my body carry’s weight.
After doing what seems like endless amounts of research, I realized that my constant cardio fitness regime was not helping me in multiple ways. Especially with where I am in my fitness journey, my body much better responds to strength training over chronic cardio. I found this great article on how strength training can help you reach all your fitness goals whether you’re looking to tone up or lose body fat. I personally have seem so much more improvement not only in my total body, but my overall health and energy by cutting out the cardio and focusing more on lifting heavy weights. I do like to switch things up and keep my body guessing and will do an occasional run and still enjoy doing HIIT circuits. It’s all about variety and balance.
That belly though. It doesn’t want to budge. I use to think endless crunches would solve my problem, but boy is that a joke. And we’ve all heard abs are made in the kitchen, but honestly, I eat relatively healthy all the time. I know what a lot of you are thinking who know me well…yes I know. I drink a decent amount of alcohol. But honestly. That probably won’t be changing.
And just for the record I did do a little experiment and took a break from the booze to see what would happen and yes maybe I saw a few minor improvements, it wasn’t the cure all.
So I am still on a journey to learn how I can banish my belly pouch and in the journey have found some easy natural ways we all can help reduce the belly bloat.
1. Drink More Water
This is one of the easiest things we can do to help reduce belly bloat. A lot of people think that drinking more water can cause the bloat, but in reality when we do not drink enough water our body retains the water, holding on to the fluid to avoid dehydration. So if you’re feeling bloated that’s the time to drink more water, not restrict it. Adding lemon to warm water is another great thing to do when bloated. Lemons are a natural diuretic and gentle laxative when added to warm water and consuming this can help reduce the amount of salt retained in the body. Another thing however to keep in mind is to not drink water with meals; this will dilute digestive enzymes in the gut. Wait to drink 15 minutes before or after eating.
2. Get More Sleep.
Another seemingly simple thing to do. But in reality it may be one of the hardest things to do. There are so many excuses to why we get a lack of sleep. I am such an offender of “so much to do, so little time to do it” and find myself up at odd hours of the night trying to get work done then getting up early in the morning just so I can get a work out done and still have time to get ready for work. But come to find out quality of sleep is very important not only for weight loss, but our overall health. Lack of sleep not only causes low energy levels through out the day, but can also cause insulin resistance which can lead to weight gain. Lack of sleep can also cause decreased leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels. This can lead to increased hunger and appetite. So the question is, is it worth sacrificing our health in order to get all our other tasks done? Fitness is extremely good for our health, so the solution needs to be if we know we are getting up early, then we need to make sure we go to bed early.
3. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is where you go from anywhere between 30 seconds to 1 minute of high intensity work followed by a period of rest. The great thing about this type of work out is you only have to do small amounts of it and still get maximum results. It’s even said that just 10-20 minutes of a HIIT workout is the same if not better than 40-60 minutes of a low intensity aerobic work out (like the elliptical or cycling). HIIT training also gives you an after burn where you are continuously burning fat through out the day. Always remember though with any exercise there is a point to where there is too much exercise. Too much exercise can become a chronic stressor on the body (see #6) Chronic stress of any type can lower the metabolic rate.
4. Eat Fat
The days of fat fearing are in the past. I think we have all seen the phrase “fat will not make you fat”. Thanks to the low fat craze there are still plenty of low fat products on the shelf, but in reality, we need to stay away from as many processed foods anyways, so avoiding the low fat, low calorie foods should be something we’re doing anyway. Our bodies need fat to burn fat, but we need to make sure we are eating the right kinds of fats. You want to make sure you are eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the fats we do need to stay away from are the saturated fats. Good sources of fats include: avocados, grass fed meats, grass fed butter, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil.
5. Get moving
Our modern lives have made us so much more sedentary than our bodies are made for. So many of us have office jobs which require us to sit all day. Tivo/Netflix/Hulu all make it so easy to binge watch shows, which results in us sitting on the coach for hours. We need to make sure we get some sort of daily activity. There are also great apps out there that can remind us to get up and move. There are also quick and easy ways to get movement and activity in while we’re at work and at home. I love these ideas for at work and home workouts.
6. Stress Less
As if right? Life is stressful, there is no way around that, but it’s how we deal with that stress that can really make the difference. When our bodies are under constant stress our stress response is to release cortisol. Too much cortisol inhibits weight loss catabolizes muscle, worsens your insulin resistance, and promotes fat storage. I will say from personal experience, meditation has done wonders for my stress level. Just a few minutes even morning to really focus on my breath sets me in the right mood for the day. If meditation isn’t your thing there are plenty of other ways to relax and de-stress. Take a walk outside, listen to calming music, get a massage once a week. I also found that reading a positive message every morning can really affect my mood and always remember to breath.
7. Keep Good Posture
So guilty of this one. Having good posture can help reduce bloating in multiple ways. Slouching can make your stomach drop forwards which causes the appearance of bloating, standing up properly helps prevent your stomach from collapsing. Good posture can also help tighten your stomach muscles. This article by Prevention gives great advice for improving your posture in multiple situations.
So even though personally I don’t see my lower belly distention ever going away 100% I can use all the help I can get. Hopefully some of these tips help you too!