It’s the worst, and so many things can cause it to happen! Here you are, just minding your business and suddenly your jeans don’t fit anymore! Did they shrink!? They must have shrunk, right? You’ve been eating right and exercising… so what gives!?
Let’s get the obvious culprits out of the way…
We all know how it is every month! And let’s be honest, that late night taco/burrito isn’t helping matters either (but it was so good)!
But what if you eliminate those factors? What if you follow a super healthy nutrition plan, you work out, and it doesn’t happen to be Aunt Flo’s visitation week… the bloat can still come for you!
I know. It’s not fair. But it’s the truth. Some of the things you may be doing for your health could be causing issues. Here are some examples…
- Drinking water
- Eating fruit
- Getting fiber
- Taking vitamins
- Eating protein bars
I know what you’re thinking…
How could these 5 things be secretly causing my bloating issues? I’m not saying they are! Bloating can be caused by so many factors including eating foods that are toxic to your digestion, not sleeping enough, taking on stress, etc… I want to point out that, even when you think you have everything under control, doing these five things the WRONG way can lead you right into bloat central.
But don’t worry; I’m not here to burst your bubble and leave you hanging! Let’s discuss each of these, and allow me to present simple solutions for each so they work FOR you…not AGAINST you!
1. Chugging Water Before Exercise
It’s definitely a good idea to stay hydrated, especially if you’re exercising. Sipping water throughout the day also helps aid in proper digestion. But if you drink too much water in preparation for a workout, you’ll unknowingly cause discomfort and a swollen belly!
The idea is, you want to stay hydrated… not filled with water. In order for water to have a benefit to your body, it needs to be allowed to absorb into your muscles and organs. So instead of loading up before a workout, work on drinking up to 24 ounces of water maybe 1-2 hours before exercise begins. This will give enough time for proper hydration to take place. Then, about 10-15 minutes before you actually begin the workout, drink only 8 ounces which your body will use as you sweat.
Make sure to keep water with you to sip on during the workout and you’re good to go!
2. Eating The Wrong Fruit At The Wrong Time
Don’t get me wrong… fruit is great for you! But just like any good thing, you need to know how to manage it with moderation. One of the things that’s great about fruit is how it can give you a nice punch of natural energy in the form of fructose or maltodextrin.
But did you know that somewhere around 50% of people can’t properly digest either of those? Even if you happen to be on the statistical side that CAN digest it, it can still easily cause bloating and gas!
Here are two solutions… First, choose fruits that are lower in fructose like bananas or oranges. these are relatively easy to digest and won’t cause bloating. Second, try reserving your fruit consumption for night-time. By night-time, I mean as you prepare for bed. Eating a serving of fruit before bed will help your body ease into a more relaxed state. This will help you get better quality sleep. Plus, the added energy from the fructose will help you feel less groggy in the morning!
3. Eating Too Much Fiber
Fiber is great! It helps you poop better, and it’s a weapon against belly fat! But if you aren’t used to getting adequate levels of fiber on a regular basis, switching to eating more salads, vegetables, and high-fiber cereals can definitely lead to bloating.
Why? Because you need the right cocktail of digestive bacteria to break down fibrous foods. Foods that are high in fiber generally take longer to digest. If you’re accustomed to eating a high fiber diet, your intestines will already be equipped with the right tools to help break down those foods before they move along the digestive tract. If you don’t have that right type of bacteria already in there, the fibrous food will take longer to move along. The longer it lingers, the more time your existing bacteria has to munch away at it and create gas.
Just take it slowly. Choose one meal per day that you will increase your fruit/vegetable intake. This will help you to gradually introduce the right bacteria, but it will also help you to identify foods that could be toxic to your digestion. Some people respond negatively to beans, while others can’t eat broccoli. Everyone is different… so take the time and learn what your body needs most!
It may take some time, but eventually, you’ll have a pretty good idea which fibrous foods keep you feeling good and not bloated. Avoid the foods that have the undesired effect and you’ll soon arrive at a balanced gut flora which will make you a fat burning machine!
4. Taking The Wrong Supplements
Let’s get something straight… not all vitamins are created equal! The health industry brings in billions and billions of dollars, and you’d be silly to think every product out there has your best interest in mind. At the end of the day, some of these products are made by big companies who just want to turn a profit… and they do that by selling you “healthy” stuff made from junk.
Common additives/fillers added to vitamins/supplements include wheat and lactose. They have no business being in your supplements, but they increase profits for greedy companies. Two other common culprits are xylitol and mannitol, which are sugar alcohols. Imagine unknowingly consuming wheat or lactose as someone who has a gluten deficiency, or lactose intolerance! Not fun…right? Definitely not cool…
The best solution is to get the majority of your vitamins and minerals through your food. Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so it’s literally a shot in the dark unless you know what all those long words on the ingredients list are. Honestly, it’s best to get what you can from a variety of whole foods, and if you must supplement… spend a little more and get the really high-quality stuff that doesn’t have filler ingredients or sugar alcohols.
5. Using Protein Bars As A Snack
Look… protein is important and you should be making sure that you’re eating enough of it. But the vast majority of these bars out there are made with whey or soy proteins. Most people have trouble properly digesting soy and whey can create a world of problems for anyone with even the slightest lactose sensitivity. Either one can cause digestive discomfort, constipation, gas, etc… In other words… major bloating.
If you must use a protein bar, stick to bars that use pea, rice, or nut protein. these may cost a little more, but your gut and your slimmer waistline will thank you later!
Here are some added tips!
You know the saying… “eat an apple a day…” blah blah blah.
Go for ONE banana a day instead. When you’re low in potassium, your body will hold on to sodium and retain water. The potassium in one banana can help keep this controlled and reduce bloating.
Also, try to stick to yogurt that contains a bacteria called bifidobacteria. Studies show that this type of bacteria can reduce bloating and gas. Fage Total Greek is my go-to for this.
I hope I didn’t burst your bubble too badly with all of this information! Nutrition is a funny thing and it can be your make-or-break factor in feeling great every day. The more you’re able to understand about it, the better you’ll be able to employ it to your advantage and truly elevate every aspect of your life!
Here’s to continued self-learning and feeling amazing!
With all my ️,
As one of the nation’s acclaimed Emergency Medicine Physicians, Dr. Stephanie Burgos is also a best - selling author, lifestyle and confidence coach, wellness expert, speaker, and social influencer.
Dr. Stephanie works with women on how to balance mental and physical fitness with personal and professional success so they can renew their energy, restore clarity and rebuild confidence.