Six-pack abs aren’t an achievable body goal for everybody. But a simple flat stomach might be easier to attain than you think. There are lots of different factors that can cause belly bloat and make you look thicker through the midsection than you really are. Use these 10 easy tips to whittle down your waistline quickly and easily. The best part? You won’t even have to hit the gym (although that won’t hurt, of course:)
1. Keep yourself hydrated
If your body is retaining water, your stomach might look a little puffy. Flush out that excess water by upping your level of hydration. In addition to drinking more water and caffeine-free tea, you can ensure you stay hydrated on a daily basis by eating foods that contain a lot of water, such as fruits, vegetables and clear soups.
2. Meet your fiber goals every day
Women need up to 25 grams of dietary fiber every day, while men should be eating up to 38 grams. If you aren’t consuming enough fiber, your digestive tract can get backed up, causing bloating and discomfort. One tip: If you currently don’t consume a lot of fiber, increase your intake gradually, so your body has time to get used to the change.
3. Eat smaller meals
If you eat big meals, you’re likely to experience belly bloat afterwards. Smaller meals don’t produce the same kind of “food baby” effect. Instead of eating two or three big meals every day, try spacing out five or six mini-meals that your body can digest more efficiently.
4. Stand up straight
The fastest way to look thinner is to improve your posture. Standing with your spine straight and your shoulders back forces you to engage your core muscles, which makes your stomach look tighter and more toned. If you’re accustomed to slouching, standing up straight will also give you an extra inch or two of height, making you look slimmer instantly. Huzzah!
5. Take time to de-stress
Stress isn’t just bad for your mental health. It’s also bad for your waistline. When you’re frazzled, your body produces more of a hormone called cortisol, which causes you to store excess fat around your abdomen. You can lower your cortisol levels and achieve a slimmer waist by taking some time every day to meditate, draw, take a hot bath or do something else that relaxes you.
6. Track your sodium intake
If you’ve ever felt especially bloated the morning after indulging in some Chinese takeout or salty potato chips, you’ve experienced sodium-induced water weight gain. Water weight is temporary, but it can add several pounds to the scale overnight, which might be a problem if you want to fit into your favorite jeans the next day. Cut back on salt to minimize bloating. If you do eat a salty meal, don’t panic – just drink lots of water to help flush the sodium out of your system quickly.
7. Ditch soda, cigarettes and gum
If you swallow air throughout the day, it can end up trapped in your intestines, making your stomach stick out. Drinking soda, smoking cigarettes and chewing gum are all habits that can cause you to swallow air. Eating too quickly and talking while you eat can also lead to excess air getting into your digestive system.
8. Have a cup of coffee
Your morning caffeine boost does more than just help you wake up; it could flatten your stomach, too. The caffeine in coffee makes your body let go of excess water, which can help you banish abdominal bloat. Coffee also stimulates your digestive system, which prevents constipation.
9. Add fermented foods to your meals
The healthier your digestive system is, the less likely you’ll be to experience bloating. You can give your digestion a boost by adding more fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt and miso paste to your meals and snacks. Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria called probiotics that live in your digestive tract and help your body break down food. Over time, as you eat more foods high in probiotics, you’ll notice that you feel bloated less frequently.
10. Avoid eating too many foods that cause bloating
Some foods are difficult to digest, no matter how healthy your digestive tract is. Lentils and beans can cause bloating and gas for many people. So can cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and brussels sprouts. You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet entirely, but be sure to eat them in moderation. You might also find that taking a digestive enzyme ahead of time helps you break down bloat-causing foods more effectively.
Your everyday habits have a big effect on how flat or bloated your stomach appears. Put the 10 tips above to work for you, and you’ll most likely find that your stomach looks flatter and more toned within a day or two, if not sooner.
Looking for more ways to whittle your middle? Check out 3 Ways to Blast Belly Fat for Your Best Bikini Body.
Featured photo by Iwona Łach on Unsplash
Melody Rose Rowan is the Director of Content & Strategy for Blender Networks, Inc. When she’s not managing blogs for FitMinutes, The-E-Tailer, Cartageous, InStyleRooms, NurturedPaws & Shoelistic, she’s rearranging her bookcase at home in Culver City, CA, getting her fix of breakfast tacos and Topo Chicos in her hometown of Austin, TX with her husband and rescue dog and attempting to keep up with her own blog, Mustache Melrose.