Even calorie-free sodas can make your belly bigger because the carbonation will bloat you up. “With carbonated beverages, there’s nowhere else for gas to go but out, so either belch or gas,” says Crandall. Plus, the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks can cause bloating and gas in some people, says Armul. Try water infused with lemon or cucumbers instead for a flavorful, refreshing drink. Here’s how stomach doctors deal with belly bloat.
Get more "bang" for your ab-exercise "buck." Ideally, instead of focusing on muscle-toning exercises that target only your abdominals, you should seek out alternatives that utilize other muscle groups as well. They often require more exertion, which can help with fat burning. Also, additional muscle tone in the back, chest, shoulders, legs, etc. can improve posture and otherwise help make your belly appear slimmer.
Try to cook fresh when you can instead of relying on packaged foods, says Armul. “There are preservatives in them to prolong shelf life,” she says. “The thing that makes them so convenient is they’re there all the time, waiting on the shelf—but that also means they’re higher in sodium.” When that extra sodium holds water, you’ll end up feeling bloated. Here are more foods that relieve stomach bloating.
A study by Eat This, Not That! magazine advisor Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that you can estimate how much someone weighs by taking a photo of their kitchen counter. After analyzing photos of 200 kitchens, he found that women who have soda sitting on their countertops weigh an average 26 pounds more while those who have cookies weigh about eight pounds more. The biggest surprise: Keeping cereal on your counter leads to an additional 20 pounds of body weight. The lesson here is to clean empty calories off your countertops to start losing weight.
Fennel, peppermint, and ginger have all been shown in research studies to have calming effects on the belly. They work by enhancing digestive enzymes so your food gets moved through your system faster. And faster-moving food means a flatter tummy. In addition, peppermint reduces cramping and gas, ginger helps with nausea and inflammation, and fennel is a diuretic to help you stop retaining water.
It’s not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, , allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that’s published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.