You know there's no way we'd ever recommend a crash diet. That's because you don't need one—even if you're trying to de-bloat by as soon as this weekend. Yep, it's actually possible to reduce stomach bloat and lose water weight before Saturday just by switching up your menu Monday through Friday.
"Temporary bloating can be relieved in a few days with proper hydration and food choices," says Jennifer Christman, dietitian. No detox teas, water pills, or weird shakes required.
Here's what to cut out of your eating routine, stat.
Though fresh produce is a vital part of a healthy diet, if you're specifically looking to avoid bloat, make sure you're cooking those veggies rather than eating them raw, says Brooke Alpert. "A half-cup serving of cooked carrots delivers the same nutrition as one cup raw," she says. "But the cooked version takes up less room in your GI tract, the organ system responsible for digesting food, which leads to less bloat."
Sorry, tobasco sauce addicts, but you'll need to lay off the spice for the time being. "Spicy foods can stimulate the release of stomach acid, which can cause irritation, gas, and bloating," says Alpert. Other offenders include black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, chili powder, onions, garlic, mustard, barbecue sauce, horseradish, ketchup, tomato sauce, and vinegar. Try seasoning your food with fresh lemon or lime juice for the next few days.
Unless you're training for a race or do high-intensity interval training, like indoor cycling and boot camp classes, several times a week, cut your daily carb intake to one or two servings of starchy foods per day, says Brooke Alpert. That's about one slice of bread and a half-cup of rice, she says. You can also try swapping you're a.m. oatmeal for a smoothie and reducing the amount of processed carbohydrates, like bagels, cereal, chips, and pasta, you eat.
"Your muscles store a type of carbohydrate called glycogen as a back-up energy source," says Alpert. And every gram of glycogen is stored with roughly three grams of water, making you feel puffy.
With less carbs, your body will access the stored fuel in you muscle, burn it off, and drain excess stored fluids, says Alpert.
Foods Containing Sugar Alcohol
Check the labels on your protein bars, chewing gum, and other processed foods for sugar alcohol. Your GI tract can't absorb sweeteners, like xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol, so consuming them just adds to the bloat, says Alpert.
Foods like broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, onions, and milk contain enzymes that naturally produce gas. When bacteria in your gut digest these foods, they create gas as a byproduct, says Sylvia Melendez-Klinger. "If there is a significant amount of gas that gets trapped in the GI tract, it can build up in the intestines and cause bloating." Try swapping your side of broccoli or Brussels sprouts for steamed asparagus or sautéed kale this week.
Cap your sodium intake at a teaspoon or less a day by cutting back on processed foods and seasoning with the saltshaker, says Rebecca Lewis, in-house dietitian. That should help you drop water weight, she says.
Sodium is often responsible for water retention and bloating because it brings water into cells, says Lewis. "A healthy diet should contain no more than 2,300 miligrams of sodium per day, which is about a teaspoon," says Lewis.
If your goal is a flat belly by Friday, it's time to dry out. "Alcohol is a gastrointestinal irritant and commonly leads to bloating," says Monica Auslander. Carbonated mixers also add to the swollen feeling, says Auslander. "The bubbles in carbonated beverages are physical gas molecules that settle in the stomach," she says.
When you chew gum, you're actually forcing excess air into your stomach, says Alpert. "All that air gets trapped in your GI tract and causes pressure and bloating."