Stomach bloat can happen and, while it isn’t weight gain, it can definitely make you feel uncomfortable and concerned as to whether it will lead to more pounds down the road.
Not only does bloating make your clothes fit poorly, but it may make you feel more lethargic and less motivated. The good news: It’s possible to treat the effects of bloating quickly.
Like when treating anything, it helps to know the cause, though with bloating that can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint.
It’s natural to feel bloated after getting off an airplane, sitting for hours, or eating a salty meal. These are all more acute instance of bloating and, mercifully, go away on their own after moving and/or hydrating.
But if you feel bloated regularly, it may indicate that there’s something about your lifestyle that’s worth examining and changing. There is a slight a chance that chronic bloating may be a sign of an underlying a medical condition, so if you feel like that’s you, a consultation with a doctor or registered can help you target it and make the necessary dietary changes to fight that bloat.
There are actually a couple of common reasons why bloating may occur and stick around for a bit. The positive is that most of these causes are easy to treat by changing your habits.
Here are some causes dietitians see often during in their practice, as well as the tips they advise clients to help them fix their bloating for good.
You’re Lacking in Fiber
Men need to eat 38 grams of fiber per day. If you’re not meeting that amount, there is a chance that you might be constipated, which can cause gas and bloating.
“Many men who follow restrictive diets, like keto, tend to skimp on carb-rich fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans, and they often miss out on some of their daily fiber needs,” says Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D.
To fix it, it’s as simple as adding more whole foods into your day. Think about trying to get some sort of fruit and vegetable at every meal.
You’re Eating Foods That Cause Gas
Certain healthy foods, like beans and cruciferous vegetables, contain complex sugars that the body cannot digest.
“When those sugars reach the large intestines, the bacteria inside work to break them down and cause fermentation, gas and bloating,” says Rizzo.
Some people are better able to tolerate these foods than others. If you notice that beans, legumes or some veggies, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions or garlic, are triggers for you, then stay away.
You Drink Carbonated Beverages
“The carbonation in sparking water has also been known to cause gas, bloating and reflux in some people,” says Rizzo. If you notice that you’re bloated after drinking seltzer, then it’s time to switch to plain water.
You Drink Too Much Booze
The Dietary Guidelines recommend that men have two alcoholic beverages or fewer each day, if any. “If you’re a big beer drinker, you may notice that the bubbles in the drink make your stomach bloat,” says Rizzo.
“On top of that, alcohol has unnecessary calories that may lead to weight gain and alcohol also dehydrates you, which means that you will retain water and feel bloated,” Rizzo adds.
Having a drink every now and then is perfectly fine, but try and keep it to a minimum if you want to fight bloat.
You Have a GI Condition
If you’re bloated all the time and can’t figure out the cause, you may want to see a gastroenterologist. “There are a variety of GI conditions that can cause bloating, like IBS and Crohn’s Disease. Rather than try to self diagnose, talk to a doctor,” says Rizzo.
You Eat Too Fast
“When you eat fast, you swallow air and the air bubbles can cause bloating, gas and discomfort,” says Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN.
Also, eating too fast, can lead to overeating. If you eat too quickly, slow down your eating. “Put your fork down in between bites. Chew your food slowly, savor your food,” she says.
Also, don’t go into meals overly hungry, because then you will be more likely to overeat.
You Have Lactose Intolerance
“For some people, dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream can cause bloating, because they can’t digest the dairy sugar lactose,” says Schapiro.
If you are lactose intolerant, avoid these foods. You can always take a lactaid pill that helps you to digest dairy, too. There are also so many non-dairy alternatives to choose from so you don’t feel like you are missing out!
You Eat Large Amounts of Food at Once
“Just like your body will use protein more efficiently when it’s spread between meals and snacks throughout the day, it will have an easier time processing carbohydrates and fiber, fat and other nutrients when they’re eaten in moderate amounts,” says Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D.
“If you’re the type to eat three large meals and no snacks, or you eat smaller meals earlier and wind up overly sized dinners, try to balance your intake more at other times,” Jones says.
For the former, add a snack either mid-morning or in the afternoon to shift some of your food intake to another time. And if you always find yourself eating large dinners, try increasing portions at breakfast, lunch and/or your snacks so your body doesn’t feel the need for so much food at night.
You Increase Fiber Too Fast
If you’re working on fiber intake, do so slowly. “Large increases in fiber intake, which can come when following fad diets, doing a 180 with your food choices, or taking fiber supplements, can shock your system, leaving you bloated and even crampy,” says Jones. You’ll also want to be sure you’re hydrating while increasing fiber rich foods in your diet, so drink plenty of water.
You’re Not Eating Enough
“Nearly every client who comes to my practice complaining of GI symptoms and thinking they need an elimination diet is eating too few calories to support an active lifestyle and not allowing themselves to eat certain foods and food groups,” says Jones.
It doesn’t take long for them to notice improvements in GI symptoms by increasing portion sizes and the variety of foods they eat. Speak to your dietitian or slowly increase portion sizes to see if it helps—you don’t want to overdo it and eat too much, of course.
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