When Michelangelo sculpted David, he worked on the marble from the outside—turning a block of stone into a masterpiece of art—and abs. But sculpting your abs needs to be done in an entirely different manner: from the inside.
Working out and eating right are at the core of getting the lean, flat belly you want. But when you want to shrink your belly as fast as possible (like, by Friday night for that holiday party), you need to rely on your body’s own internal belly-flattening mechanisms that can be activated in less than 24 hours. It can sound a little like voodoo, but there really are a handful of simple tricks. Bring your digestive system into balance, and you’ll rev up your metabolism, dramatically reduce bloating…and see results in less than a day. Then check out these 55 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism, too.
Make a Metabolism Tea
A sluggish digestive system equals a slower metabolic rate. Wake up your innards by starting the morning with a cup of ginger tea. This fast-friendly drink will help improve the digestion and elimination of your food and cut unhealthy cravings for salt or sugar, and is a key part of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse—test panelists lost 10 pounds! Boil 1/2 tsp grated ginger with 1 cup of water and pour into a cup with your favorite tea bag.
Take a Bath With Epsom Salt
Relaxing in any tub is always nice, adding two cups of Epsom salt may help deflate your belly more effectively by pulling excess water out of your body. To avoid dehydration, only do this ritual once a week.
Eat a Banana
Bananas are packed with potassium, a nutrient that helps regulate fluid balance to flatten belly bloat. It’s just one of the 21 Amazing Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Bananas!
Avoid Certain Veggies
Even though they’re filled with health-promoting nutrients, these are also contain sneaky belly-bloaters that may be contributing to your ever-clinging food baby: White onions, artichokes, corn, brocolli, cauliflower, kale, raw spinach, and button mushrooms.
Spit Out The Gum
Not only does chewing gum cause you to swallow tummy-bloating air, many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol that can cause bloat. If you have to have something to chomp on, go for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use those sweeteners that’ll make you puff up. If that makes you cringe, then you’ll definitely want to see the 40 Most Horrifying Things Found in Food!
Skip the Protein Bar
You probably don’t think “beans” when you unwrap a protein bar, but a lot of them include protein isolate derived from soybeans—something many people find just as gas-inducing as the musical fruit. Like other beans, soy contains oligosaccharides, sugar molecules that the body can’t break down entirely. With nowhere to go, these oligosaccharides hang out in the where they ferment, causing gas and bloating of the stomach.
Pile on the Cilantro
Research shows that cilatnro’s unique blend of oils (specifically, linalool and geranyl acetate) work like over-the-counter meds to relax digestive muscles and alleviate an “overactive” gut. A study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Science found that patients with IBS benefited from supplementing with coriander (also known as cilantro) as opposed to placebo. Cilantro is just one of the 25 Best Foods That Beat Bloat!
Have Some Dark Chocolate
You don’t need to tell us twice! But the catch is that the chocolate has to have a cacao content of 70 percent or above. Chocolate-loving microbes in the gut convert the candy into anti-inflammatory compounds, researchers at the American Chemical Society found. When the cocoa reaches your belly’s digestive juices and enzymes, it’s feasted on by your belly’s good gut bugs, which ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds. Bingo: You lose belly bloat.
Eat Several Teeny-Tiny Meals
To keep your metabolism revving throughout the day, focus on small, protein- and fiber-packed snacks or small meals every 3 to 4 hours. You will not only burn more calories eating a series of smaller meals, but also avoid the afternoon crash and end of the workday slump. (Make sure to eat that first protein-packed meal; skipped breakfasts leave many of us grabbing for more food than we really need.) Use your smartphone or computer to remind you of these intervals. An apple with peanut butter, some nuts and berries, hummus or yogurt all make great go-to snacks. Speaking of peanut butter, find out What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Peanut Butter!
Eat Slowly So You Don’t Gulp Air
When you finally get home after a long day, you’re totally famished — we get it. But that doesn’t mean you should scarf down your dinner in a hurry. Eating too quickly causes you to swallow excess air, which can lead to uncomfortable gas and bloating. Slowing down the chewing with your mouth closed, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. Fight off the urge to vacuum your entire meal by snacking on something like a small piece of fruit or an ounce of nuts on your way home. Then, after you’ve settled in, sit down and have a leisurely supper.
Swap Your Happy Hour Drink for Lemon Water
When people retain fluid, they tend to skimp on water because they think it will make their bloating worse. Since water retention is the body’s way of holding onto fluid so it doesn’t dehydrate, the opposite is true. Drinking lots of water (and skipping dehydrating booze) signals the body that it no longer needs to hold onto every last drop to stay hydrated. Lemons are a natural diuretic, so adding them to your glass will speed up the process. (Not a lemon fan? Whip up a glass of detox water instead.)
Skip the Straws
Just like sucking in air by inhaling your meals can cause you to feel puffy, sipping through a straw can cause you to take in extra air and experience a bloating.
Seriously, Only Drink Water or Tea
As much as we love the benefits of coffee and hate soda, they’re both no-no’s when trying to shrink your bloat, fast. “Fluids, specifically water, are absolutely key for optimal digestion,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. “Consuming beverages that are high in sugar or caffeine can not only be dehydrating, but in some cases can add to excess calorie intake, too.”
Find Fiber; Lose White Flour
Foods made with white flour like white bread, white pasta, and white rice are relatively low in fiber and may cause you to get a little, uh, backed up. Choosing whole grains can help with this,” says Smith. A simple switch from white bread to whole wheat or from white rice to brown will keep things moving along smoothly.
Don’t Eat Anything Greasy
Foods that are high in grease or are really fatty, like a McDonald’s breakfast, can cause gastrointestinal upset. While some fats are great for your gut, like omega-3s found in fish or nuts, these fats don’t interact with your body the same way. Stuff like fast food often contains high levels of unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fatty acids that cause an inflammatory response in the body, meaning your body wants it out!
Hold Off on Any Alcohol
Alcohol can directly damage the digestive tract and research has also found it to mess with the good bacteria in your gut. If you really can’t avoid it, always try to match one glass or serving of alcohol with one glass of water.
Take a Stroll
Instead of lounging around after supper, head outside for a 15-minute nighttime stroll—it’s a great way to get things moving again when you are feeling backed up and bloated. And if you regularly experience constipation, consider making walking part of your nightly routine. And if you tend to toss and turn, check out these tips for how to get better sleep.
Sip On Ginger Tea
Inflammation, often brought on by spicy foods, dairy and chemical additives, may be to blame for your puffy tummy. According to numerous studies, ginger, traditionally used to ease stomach pain, blocks several genes and enzymes in the body that promote bloat-causing inflammation. If you prefer the taste of chai tea, typically made from a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger, that may also do the trick— but may be less potent. Not a fan of ginger or chai? There are plenty of other teas that make great bloating remedies.
Cut Out Dairy
Dairy can be very bothersome to the belly, because many adults naturally produce less of the necessary digestive enzyme lactase as we get older. If you consume dairy products pretty regularly, try cutting them out for a few days and see how your body reacts.
Add Bacteria to Your Belly
Studies show that overweight people have a higher percentage of “bad” bacteria in their bellies. To keep the fat-causing bugs at bay, you need to eat a variety of foods that support the healthy bacteria—the kind found in the bellies of slim people. Kefir, kombucha and bone broth are examples of probiotic-rich foods that help you lose weight by aiding digestion. Add 2-3 servings of these probiotic-heavy foods to your weekly food plan.
Eat Dinner Early
Fasting: it’s the slim-down secret of models and celebrities. But for those of us who’d like to actually enjoy our lives, it’s not exactly an appealing prospect. But here’s a secret: You actually fast every night, while you’re asleep—that’s why the call the first meal of the day “break fast.” The longer you can stretch out that period of fasting, the fewer calories you’ll take in and the more time your body will have to heal itself. (Digestion takes a lot of work!). Cut off food intake by 7pm or 8 pm at night, and delay breakfast a little further into the day. Make sure you have at least 12 hours between your last meal tonight and your first meal tomorrow. You’ll give your digestive system time to recover, and deflate your belly quickly.
Break Your Fast with Protein
Once you have awakened your digestion, start your day of eating with a burst of protein. We all get distracted or busy through the day, but a high-protein start will prevent surprise mid-morning or early afternoon energy crashes that leave us reaching for sugar, caffeine or a carbohydrate load for a quick boost. Add a morning protein shake or a breakfast of eggs and nut butter waffles. The goal: don’t leave the house without first loading up on at least 15 grams of protein.
Eat Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are great for when you’re feeling “flat belly-focused weeks.” They’re gentle diuretics that help combat excess water weight.
Eat Honeydew, Pineapple and Papayas
Honeydew melon has a diuretic property that fights water retention, and pineapples and papayas contain enzymes that aid digestion and break down proteins that usually cause bloat.