How many times can you recall having a bloated belly while trying to squeeze into a tight-fitting pair of jeans? It’s particularly annoying if you watch what you eat and exercise. Belly bloat is often to blame, but luckily, it can be temporary. Experts share the common reasons for a bulging stomach along with their tips for how to get rid of bloating.
Why do you get a bloated stomach?
Bloat sneaks up on you in surprising ways, depending on what you eat, certain habits you have, and even from select medical conditions.
Certain foods can cause digestive distress, some eating habits can cause you to take in more air, and certain medical conditions can cause your body to retain water.
These steps will show you how to get rid of bloating.
When you want to shrink your stomach as quickly as possible, you’ll want to rely on these digestion-promoting methods that can help you get rid of your ballooning belly in just 24 hours. We’ll help you identify which habits and foods can help reduce bloating, bringing your digestive system into balance and revving up your metabolism in the process.
There will be no more squeezing into your favorite pair of jeans anymore when you follow our 24 tips for how to get rid of bloating—see results in less than 24 hours!
When people are bloated, 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. “Fluids, specifically water, are absolutely key for optimal digestion,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
Relaxing in any tub is always nice, and adding two cups of magnesium-rich Epsom salt may help deflate your belly more effectively by pulling excess water out of your body. Your body will absorb the magnesium, which is an electrolyte, which can help displace the extra water your body is retaining. To avoid dehydration, only do this ritual once a week.
Bananas are packed with potassium, a nutrient that helps regulate fluid balance to flatten belly bloat. (It’s just one of the amazing benefits of bananas!) The potassium offsets the effects of sodium in your diet, which is a common cause of water retention. And bananas won’t just help you beat bloat overnight; An Anaerobe study found that women who ate a banana as a pre-meal snack twice a day for 60 days experienced a 50 percent reduction in bloating.
Even though they’re filled with health-promoting nutrients, foods that are high in FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) also contain sneaky belly-bloaters that may be contributing to your ever-clinging food baby. The culprit is poorly absorbed carbohydrates and sugars. When your body ferments these carbs in your gut, it produces gas, which causes bloating. Avoid foods like…
- White onions
- Brussels sprouts
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. Because these sugar alcohols are not absorbed by your body, they can cause discomfort and bloating, according to a Clinical Nutrition study.
Eat This! Tip: If you need to have something to chew on, go for an organic gum 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 most horrifying things found in food!
Intermittent fasting is increasing in popularity because of it’s science-backed weight loss benefits. For most of us, not eating for 16 hours in a day doesn’t seem like an appealing prospect. But here’s a secret: You actually fast every night, while you’re asleep—that’s why they call the first meal of the day “breakfast.”
The longer you can stretch out that period of fasting, the fewer calories you’ll take in. The fewer calories you consume, the less opportunity you have to eat something that will bloat your stomach. Cut off food intake by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. 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 bell
Another method is to eat the bulk of your calories before 3 p.m. You’ll be more likely to have a flatter stomach than your splurge-at-dinner peers, says a 2013 International Journal of Obesity study.
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 breakfast will prevent surprise mid-morning or early afternoon energy crashes that leave us reaching for a quick jolt of energy via ultra-processed foods that are high in bloat-inducing ingredients like excess sodium.
Eat This! Tip: 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.
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, according to a 2000 study, and is a key part of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse. Another reason for your bloated belly is inflammation, which is often brought on by spicy foods, dairy and chemical additives. According to numerous studies, ginger, traditionally used to ease stomach pain, blocks several genes and enzymes in the body that promote bloat-causing inflammation. Not a fan of ginger? There are plenty of other teas that make great bloating remedies.
Eat This! Tip: Boil 1/2 tsp grated ginger with 1 cup of water and pour into a cup with your favorite tea bag.
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.)
Eat This! Tip: Use your smartphone or computer to remind you of these intervals. Some go-to healthy snack ideas include:
- Apple with peanut butter
- A handful of nuts and berries
- Hummus and veggies
- Yogurt and granola
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.
As much as we love the benefits of coffee, drinking it when you’re trying to shrink your belly in 24 hours is a no-no. “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,” explains Smith. When your body is dehydrated, it will hold onto water, which causes excessive bloating.
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.
Many beans, including soybeans, contain oligosaccharides. These are nondigestible 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. It should be easy to avoid beans in just 24 hours, but make sure you’re on the lookout for other sources. 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.
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.
High fiber foods that are free of indigestible fibers mentioned before include:
- Whole grain bread
- Acorn squash
- Berries (blackberries and raspberries)
- Chia and flax seeds
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!
Alcohol can directly damage the digestive tract and research has also found it to mess with the good bacteria in your gut. But more importantly for when you’re trying to shrink your stomach in 24 hours, alcohol inhibits digestion, as well. “Alcohol inhibits digestion and causes dehydration, causing the digestive tract to slow down—which results in constipation,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN. When you drink alcohol, your body switches to processing the alcohol out of your system first before digesting any food, which can leave you with a bloated stomach. It may be tough, but avoid the hard stuff during this day.
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.
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 24 hours (and maybe even beyond this day) and see how your body reacts.
We didn’t say these 24 hours were going to be sweet! “Foods that are processed with added sugars, particularly with artificial sweeteners, can be seriously upsetting to the intestinal tract and can cause gas and bloating for many,” says Smith. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners like sugar alcohols are part of that group of poorly-digested FODMAPs, that will only cause your belly to bloat more.
RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.
The older, wiser, less-bendy sister of yoga, meditation is an amazing activity that people can reap major rewards from. A 2014 study in Eating Behaviors found that individuals who meditate are less likely to overeat or give in to emotional eating—and this is key if you want to stay on track with your anti-bloat plan over the next day. To get started, unroll a yoga mat or sit on a carpet in a sunny room (east-facing if possible) and take five uninterrupted minutes thinking about something that you’re grateful for.
Getting a good night’s rest will help keep your energy levels high the next day as well as make it easier for you to keep a smart eating plan. According to a University of Wisconsin study, people who get more sleep have reduced ghrelin and increased leptin levels. These two hormones work together to help control your appetite throughout the day, making sure you don’t overeat. To get rid of bloating, get a good night’s rest to keep you from overeating the next day.
Eating large portions can leave you feeling inflated, which isn’t what you’re looking for at the end of your 24-hour debloat period. Eat slowly and put your fork down between each bite. A good rule of thumb is to eat until you’re about 90 percent full and then call it. You can also practice portion control by portioning out your meals ahead of time.
Good for the tastebuds, but potentially bad for the stomach, high-sodium foods may lead to water retention and temporary weight gain. When you overload your system with sodium, your kidneys can’t keep up; sodium that would otherwise be flushed away has to sit in your bloodstream, where it attracts water, causing increased blood pressure and bloating. When it comes to how to get rid of bloating, your first step should be to assess how much sodium you’re eating per day.
You can cut back on sodium with these tips:
- If you tend to eat at fast-food restaurants a lot, switch to low-sodium fast food orders.
- Use spices to season food instead of solely relying on salt.
- Swap canned foods to fresh or frozen products.
- Skip out on processed meats and replaced with grilled or baked, lean protein.
Honeydew melon has a diuretic property that fights water retention. Its high potassium levels help displace sodium, flushing excess water from your system and acting a natural electrolyte replacement. Honeydew is just one of the best foods that beat bloating!