We’ve all been there – it’s cheat day and you smash a massive feed so hard you need to loosen your belt a few notches (or just unzip your jeans) to get some relief.
But what about when you’re training regularly, eating well, steering clear of the buffet table, and yet somehow still have a bloated, swollen stomach?
Most of us need no introduction to what bloating is, but for the lucky unicorns who haven’t had the (dis)pleasure of experiencing the sensation, bloating refers to swelling or distension and is generally used in reference to abdominal (stomach) bloating. Being ‘bloated’ feels different to everyone, but it’s usually a term used for when you feel full to an uncomfortable degree.
Bloating is typically caused by excess gas production and can be accompanied by burping or farting (#classy). It’s important to remember that bloating isn’t actually stomach fat gain – bloating is temporary and generally a result of an excess of solids, liquids, or gas in your digestive system (i.e. after eating).
Here are some factors that you might not realise are contributing to you looking like you’re three months pregnant, or hosting a beer belly.
This is one of the main culprits of bloating. Stuffing yourself to the brim can feel a whole lot like being bloated, but can easily be resolved by controlling your portion sizes. Try sticking to a MACROS meal plan, or break your meals up into smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Also, slow down when you eat – this lets your body digest the food more easily and gives your brain time to register that you’re actually full.
Often, an undiagnosed food intolerance, allergy, or sensitivity can cause excess gas production, bloating, and digestive discomfort. The most common gas producing intolerances are dairy products, wheat and gluten, and fructose. If you suspect a food intolerance or allergy, it’s worth consulting your health practitioner to properly investigate.
TOO MUCH PROCESSED STUFF
Convenient, yes, but packaged snacks are usually sodium bombs, causing water retention that leaves you feeling blah in the belly region. The high starch content in chips, popcorn, biccies and all the other carby processed goods can also be gas-producing.
Packaged snacks also tend to be high in the flavour enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate). This food additive is what can make your cuppa noodles or Chinese takeout so damn addictive – leave you feeling like you’ve gone through your day’s worth of meals in one sitting.
MACROS tip: Swap packaged savoury snacks for tamari almonds, and the sweet stuff for an apple and a tablespoon of nut butter. Check out our MACROS approved high protein snacks here.
There’s a common misconception that eating too close to bedtime can lead to weight gain. That’s not necessarily true – as long as you’re getting the right nutrition and not eating more calories than you burn, you shouldn’t experience weight gain regardless of the time of the day you smash a meal.
But, downing a large meal before sleeping can cause wicked bloating. When you’re asleep, your digestive system isn’t functioning at its prime as it does when you’re awake, leaving you feeling bloated in the morning – when you’re meant to feel lighter. Also, being in a horizontal position with a lot of food sitting in your stomach overnight can mean discomfort at night and in the morning.
SWALLOWING TOO MUCH AIR
Hey, who knew swallowing could be a bad thing?! The digestive system has two sources of gas – gas produced by gut bacteria and air or gas which is swallowed when you eat or drink.
Another reason to quit the soft drinks: carbonated drinks (soda water included, sorry) are the main source of swallowed air or gas. These bevvies contain bubbles filled with carbon dioxide – a gas which can be released from the liquid after it enters your stomach, causing bloating, burping, and farting.
Also, if you’re a gum chewer, fast eater, or you drink through a straw/talk while you’re eating, you’ll be swallowing more air – and bringing on the bloat.
MACROS tip: Swap your diet coke or soda water for water with cucumber of lemon. If you’re already feeling bloated, try sipping on some peppermint tea (a natural anti-spasmodic/anti-bloating remedy) after meals. Drink it over ice if you’re not a hot tea person.
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