It's called a "beer belly" for a reason. Boozy bubbles are a major cause of belly bloat, as anyone who's ever looked in the mirror after a few too many drinks can attest. But it's not just the carbonation that is the culprit. Alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your stomach, leading to gas, not to mention all the empty calories that are going straight to your waistline. Instead, skip the alcohol altogether or limit yourself to one serving per day.
Look for a brand of Greek yogurt that contains live and active cultures, which will promote healthy bacteria in your gut to prevent bloating. (These are signs you could have an unhealthy gut.) Plus, the protein in the yogurt will keep you full. Beef it up with fiber-rich oats, berries, and chia seeds for an extra filling morning meal—just don’t go overboard if your body isn’t used to digesting that much fiber, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If you’re not used to that amount of fiber it causes gas, but if you work up to it slowly, it promotes a healthy GI system,” she says. Slowly add a little more fiber to your diet every day for a flatter belly, and increase your fluid intake to aid digestion and reduce icky symptoms like diarrhea and bloating—here’s how to get more fiber into your diet without really trying.
For test panelist June Caron, incorporating fresh produce like avocados was a life-changing lesson from Zero Belly Diet. The 55-year-old lost 6 pounds in the first week on the program. "Learning to eat real, chemical-free, fresh foods has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I am never hungry. And the weight just keeps coming off!" Glowing skin, healthy nails, and better sleep were Zero Belly bonuses, June said. "I'm well on my way to getting my sexy back. Everyone says I look much younger!"
Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite at Rush University Medical Center suggests filling half your plate with vegetables so you don't have room for unhealthy foods. Eating more vegetables not only helps whittle your waist, but also lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A vegetable-filled lunch might include 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 2 cups of mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 cup of roasted red potatoes. This meal contains 545 calories.
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.