Flat abs help you fit better into your clothes and feel more confident in a swimsuit. Bloating and distension at the stomach area often causes discomfort and makes you appear heavier and out of shape. In addition to participating in cardiovascular exercise and abdominal exercises, implement dietary strategies to help flatten your stomach.
Whole grains, such as oatmeal, barley, 100 percent whole wheat and quinoa (a grain-like crop with edible seeds) contain fiber, which helps keep your digestive system regular and reduces the bloating associated with constipation. Research also suggests that a diet rich in whole grains reduces belly fat. “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” published a study in January 2008 showing that participants who replaced refined, white grains with whole grains while following a low-calorie diet lost more fat at the midsection than those who did not switch.
Drinking green tea, in combination with moderate-intensity exercise, helps the body lose belly fat. In 2009, “The Journal of Nutrition” reported a study concluding that a compound in green tea helps the body burn fat more effectively.
Reduce your intake of foods that cause gas and bloating. The University of Michigan Health Systems names vegetables onions, celery, carrots, brussels sprouts, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower and radishes as vegetables that are major gas producers, causing pressure and bloating. Fruits such as raisins, bananas, apricots, prunes and dried fruit also cause stomach distension in some people. Observe your reaction to beans, too–they contain raffinose, a sugar that is a notorious gas producer.
Caffeine and Carbonation
Coffee and carbonated drinks–including beer–can cause belching, gas production and bloating. Eliminating these foods could help deflate your belly. Limit your drinks–including water–with meals. Drinking and eating together causes more swallowing of air and could cause bloating.
Intolerances to foods such as lactose and soy can cause bloating and stomach distension. If you suspect that one of these foods causes problems for you, try eliminating it completely for several days to see if your belly deflates. Check with a doctor or nutritionist for alternative foods so you continue to obtain adequate nutrition.
About this Author
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.