Sometimes you just wake up feeling bigger, bloated, and overall not great about yourself. Maybe you overdid it on the salty food over the weekend or enjoyed too many cocktails at happy hour. Although you typically don’t gain any significant weight overnight, water retention and belly bloat can make you feel like you have. Whatever the reason, it’s totally normal (albeit, not fun) to have those days where you can barely squeeze into your skinny jeans and need to debloat ASAP.
Fortunately, you don’t need to reach for your super tight pair of Spanx to look instantly slimmer. With a few lifestyle tricks, the right foods and plenty of water, you’ll flatten your belly and fit into your favorite outfit in no time. Looking to slim down even more by tomorrow? Check out our 25 Ways to Shrink Your Belly in 24 Hours.
Fix Your Posture
Turns out when your mom was constantly nagging you about your posture, she was onto something. Looking a bit thinner can be as simple as standing (or sitting) up straight. When your shoulders are slumped forward and your spine is bent in a C-curve, it not only makes you look shorter, but also pushes out your belly and creates rolls. Roll your shoulders back and open up your chest. As you expand your shoulders wide, move your ribcage forward. Stick your butt out and make sure your pelvis is untucked; the pubic bone and the two bones at the top of the pelvis (the ASIS) should form a triangle. Not only will this make you look slimmer, but it’s better for your spine.
Dress in Black
Thankfully, monochrome outfits have replaced the color-blocking trend; two pieces in the same color makes you look slimmer. Namely, dark colors such as navy or black. It’ll help camouflage a bloated tummy, and make you instantly look a few pounds thinner. Not used to dressing in dark colors? Add some pops of color with shoes or accessories.
Wear a V-neck
Another fashion trick is throwing on a V-neck shirt or sweater. It will help elongate your neck, which makes you look overall linear and thinner.
If you’re retaining water, it might seem counter-intuitive to drink even more H2O. But drinking plenty of water is key to helping you debloat; once your body is properly hydrated, it doesn’t need to retain water anymore, which will help you slim down. Opt for a glass or two of detox water. Since lemons are a natural diuretic, they will help you flush out the bad stuff faster.
Ditch the Carbs
Although (complex) carbs are part of a healthy diet, they can cause you to bloat. In order for your body to convert carbs into glycogen, the energy that’s stored in your liver and muscles, it needs to bind with water. So the more carbs you eat, the more bloated you will feel. Cut back on anything carb-heavy, especially the refined type like white bread, white pasta, and sugar.
Have a protein-packed Breakfast
While you’re dialing back on carbs, make sure you emphasize protein consumption. Start your day with a high-protein breakfast, such as eggs or a protein shake. Aim for at least 15 grams of protein; this will leave you feeling full, satisfied, and prevent you from scarfing down a sugary, belly-bloating snack later on in the day.
Reach for a Banana
Although bananas are technically a carb, they’re the good, complex kind with fiber to balance out the natural sugars. They’re also packed with potassium, a nutrient that helps regulate fluid balance and can help flatten a bloated belly. Grab one for an on-the-go snack, or enjoy it with your breakfast.
Take time to savor your food and eat it slowly instead of scarfing it down. Not only will you enjoy your food better and feel more satisfied, it will also prevent you from swallowing excess air, which can lead to belly bloat and gas. And this goes without saying, but be sure you chew with your mouth closed to prevent any extra air from entering.
Don’t Chew Gum
If you reach for a piece of gum after a particularly pungent meal, stop it! In addition to making your breath minty fresh, it can cause you to swallow tummy-bloating air. Gum also usually contains artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, that can exacerbate the bloat, and cause gas. You’re better off brushing your teeth or chewing on fresh mint leaves.
Sure, one sweat sesh isn’t going to burn off fat right away, but it will help fight the bloat. When you’re sitting or standing still, your digestive system and bowels aren’t prompted to move. A short walk or 10-minute workout is all your need to get things moving and fight the bloat.
Go Easy on Certain Veggies
Although vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet and packed with necessary vitamins and minerals, some veggies are worse than others when it comes to bloating your belly. Cruciferous vegetables especially such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and Bok Choy can cause gas and bloating, especially when eating them raw. Opt instead for watercress, carrots, zucchini, red bell peppers, and grape tomatoes.
Watch the Salt
Excess sodium causes water retention and bloat and may be the culprit behind your puffiness already. Lay off the salt for the day in an effort to debloat, and instead use fresh herbs and spices to flavor your food.
Choose Still Over Sparkling
Sipping on sparkling water might seem like a fancy and healthier alternative to soda (and it is!), but it can also cause belly bloat. The carbonation, which is responsible for the bubbles, can get trapped in your stomach and cause it to swell like a balloon. Choose still water instead.
Pass on Artificial Sweeteners
Some people assume sugar-free sweeteners such as Splenda and Equal are a healthier alternative than table sugar, but they are filled with chemicals that can wreak havoc on your stomach. “Sugar-free foods and sweeteners (like Splenda) are filled with sugar alcohols that contain sweet-tasting indigestible compounds,” Alissa Rumsey, R.D. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explained in our article 20 Ways to Look 5 Pounds Lighter. “Since our bodies can't process them as they would traditional sugar, they can often cause gas and bloating.”
Skip the Booze
If you’re feeling particularly puffy, then it’s smart to pass on the adult beverages for a couple days. Alcohol can slow stomach emptying, which can make you feel bloated. It also makes you retain water, the cause of puffiness in the first place. Skip happy hour for a couple days, and focus on downing more (still) water instead.
Sip on Tea
Another belly-flattening beverage to sip on is tea. Particularly hibiscus tea, which could help fight the tummy bloat. According to research, flavonoids and other compounds found in the hibiscus plant can fight bloat by influencing aldosterone, the hormone that regulates water and electrolyte balance.
Pick Up Pineapple
Not just a tasty snack, pineapple could help you feel thinner, too. It has a mild diuretic effect, and research published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases found that the tropical fruit can reduce chronic inflammation that could be causing bloat. They also contain enzymes that aid in digestion, which will break down the proteins that will also fight the puffiness in your stomach.
Another anti-inflammatory, ginger can ease stomach pain and block enzymes that cause bloat. Enjoy fresh ginger blended into one of our Zero Belly Smoothies, or steep into your favorite tea.
Take a Bath
Could a soak in water help you to stop retaining it? If you mix up some Epsom salt in your bath, it could. The added salt pulls excess water out of your body and could help you deflate. Add two cups of Epsom salt to your bath water, and let it work its magic. Just don’t overdo it; an Epsom salt bath should only be done about once a week.
Balance Gut Bacteria
One cause of bloating and gas could be an imbalance of your gut bacteria. Your digestive system needs enough healthy gut bacteria to keep things moving properly and aid in digestion. Research in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition found that L. plantarum, a bacterial strain, can decrease bloating. It’s found primarily in fermented foods, such as organic sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. Make sure to get plenty of fermented foods in to help you fight the puffiness.