Some foods and drinks can make you look like a python that's just swallowed a pig—the very opposite of the Zero Belly plan. If you're feeling suddenly gassy and bloated, here are some possible perpetrators of your prodigious protrusion of belly fat, compliments of the New York Times bestseller Zero Belly Diet.
Chewing gum may seem like a harmless habit, but one too many sticks can give whole new meaning to the phrase "bubble butt." Sugarless gums typically contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known for causing bloating and other gastrointestinal distress. Sorbitol takes a relatively long time to digest, and undigested sorbitol in your small intestine acts as a hothouse for the fermentation of bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. Additionally, each chomp sends a signal to your brain, triggering hunger hormones. Stick to just a few pieces a day, or try a product like Simply Gum, which is made with only 6 ingredients, none of them artificial.
You probably don't think of 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 digestive tract, where they ferment, causing gas and bloating of the stomach. Consider a soy-free brand like Larabar or KIND instead, or try one of these 50 Best Snacks For Weight Loss.
Nature's candy, dried fruit can be a great source of nutrients and fiber. But it can also be a source of gas for those who suffer from fructose malabsorption, which occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing the natural sugar. Dried fruits are particularly high in fructose; fresh stone fruits, citrus fruits, and berries are safer options for those with sensitivity.
THE WRONG ALMOND MILK
Almond milk is a better option than cow's milk for those with lactose sensitivity, which is why I recommend it as a great base for Zero Belly drinks. But you may be undermining your goals if you're buying a brand with the thickening agent carrageenan. Derived from seaweed, carrageenan has been linked to ulcers, inflammation, and other gastrointestinal problems. If you notice bloating after drinking almond milk, consider switching brands. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods 365, and Westsoy make versions without carrageenan. And flatten your belly in just 30 seconds with 100+ delicious, filling weight-loss drinks from the brand-new book Zero Belly Smoothies!
Good for the soul but potentially bad for the stomach, soup can hide sky-high sodium counts that may lead to water retention and temporary weight gain. (Canned chilis in particular can have more than 800 mg of sodium per serving.) When you overload your system with salt, your kidneys can't keep up; salt that would otherwise be flushed away has to sit in your bloodstream, where it attracts water, causing increased blood pressure and bloating. Look to stay under 500 mg if possible; Campbell's Healthy Request, Progresso Light and V8 all make reasonable options.
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Not only is pizza loaded with fat, it's also packed with salt—both of which cause belly bloat. For example, just one slice of Domino's Buffalo Chicken pizza has 17 grams of fat and 850 milligrams of sodium—that's a third of a day's recommended intake! Consuming too much salt can lead to water retention, while fatty foods can delay stomach emptying. And cheese can worsen bloating if you're sensitive to dairy.
You knew this was coming. Overimbibing can delay stomach emptying, which can make you feel bloated. Alcohol also causes your body to retain water; at the same time, it's a diuretic, which while cause you to pee more. Being dehydrated will make you feel even more bloated.
Packaged sugar-free and "diet" foods like candy, cola, and certain snack bars may save you calories, but they're filled with chemicals that can cause your stomach to expand like a pufferfish. The reason: Sugar-free foods contain sugar alcohols that have indigestible compounds. Because the body can process them, they can cause gas and bloating.
Most protein powders are whey (dairy) based, which, in addition to artificial sweeteners they contain, can lead to uncomfortable gas and bloating. Always opt for plant-based proteins. Two brands we like are VegaSport and Sunwarrior. For more picks, check out these Great Veggie Protein Powders and the 20 Best Proteins for a Zero Belly. And flatten your belly in just 30 seconds with 100+ delicious, filling weight-loss drinks from the brand-new book Zero Belly Smoothies!
FRENCH FRIES AND CHIPS
With their close-to-zilch nutritional value, french fries and potato chips aren't worth their salt. They're loaded with sodium, which can cause you to feel bloated before you've put down the bag. What's worse: Scientists have determined that they're two of the foods most likely to turn into belly fat. For 150+ recipes that flatten your belly fast — including fries! — buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko that's already topping the Amazon charts: Zero Belly Cookbook!
Fruit yogurt is double trouble for your stomach: It tends to have high levels of belly-bloating sugar, plus it can cause discomfort in those who are sensitive to dairy. If you're not lactose intolerant, stick with plain full-fat yogurt and add some fresh fruit, or seek out a low-sugar flavored version like Chobani Simply 100.
The entrees and snacks you'll find in the freezer case have a dirty secret: They're loaded with bloat-causing sodium. A single serving of Stouffer's French Bread pizza has 880 mg of sodium — or almost 40% of the recommended daily limit — while a Marie Callendar's Sesame Chicken Steamer has 710: nearly one-third your daily allowance. Skip the frozen-food aisle and lose up to 16 pounds in 14 days: For 150+ recipes that flatten your belly fast—made with the foods you love—buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko that's already topping the Amazon charts: Zero Belly Cookbook!
Aside from the bloat-inducing carbonation, diet drinks also contain artificial sweeteners whose sugar alcohols can irritate sensitive stomachs. And don't drink the regular stuff under the guise of health: High fructose corn syrup can lead to bloating also, in addition to putting you at risk for obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Sausages, bacon, hot dogs, bologna, pimento loaf, prosciutto—these processed meats contain numerous chemicals and preservatives, including nitrates, which are salts that are well-known carcinogens. On top of that, they're loaded with sodium, a known contributor to hypertension that can inflate your belly and set you up to develop heart disease. To enjoy meat safely, go for grass-fed, organic and hormone-free varieties and consume less than 100 grams daily.
And processed cheese isn't much better, which some varieties, like feta, carrying 400 milligrams of salt in a quarter-cup serving. High-sodium foods like deli meats, bacon and cheeses cause water retention, which leads to bloating and extra water weight.
FAST FOOD CHICKEN NUGGETS
Chicken nuggets all start with chicken, but they also contain several synthetic ingredients from diglycerides to Red #40 to carrageenan, that belly-bloating emulsifier that's also found in some chewing gums and almond milks.
Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's good for you. All-natural juices can have up to 36 grams of sugar per cup — or about the same as 4 Krispy Kreme donuts! The culprit: fructose, a type of sugar that can cause bloating in the near term and the development of belly fat. For fruity drinks that will flatten your belly, check out the 100+ delicious, filling weight-loss drinks from the brand-new book Zero Belly Smoothies!
Have you ever noticed that your belly is a bit paunchy after eating a salty meal like soy-sauce-topped sushi? Thank the sodium. Just one tablespoon of Kikkoman soy sauce contains 920 mg — nearly 40% of the maximum amount you should consume all day. Opting for low-sodium soy sauce, or low-sodium tamari, over the conventional types. It can save you up to 700 mg of the salty stuff.
So you know to avoid salt bombs like french fries, but what about stealthier sources of sodium? Bagels are actually one of the biggest sources of salt in the American diet. Depending on which type you pick up, you can get a whopping 600 mg of sodium in just one —and that's before adding a schmear of cream cheese. For better breakfast options, flatten your belly in just 30 seconds with 100+ delicious, filling weight-loss drinks from the brand-new book Zero Belly Smoothies!
Ever suspected Chef Boyardee isn't kind to your waistline? Allow us to confirm that. In addition to ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and MSG, one serving of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli has 750 mg of sodium. Even a preservative-free option like Amy's Organic Medium Chili has 680 mg per one-cup serving.