You’ve been working on your abs since January and they’re almost ready for the big reveal. Your last step before hitting the sand? Beating back beach-day bloat. Follow these seven tips to ensure your stomach looks (and feels) as flat as it really is when you show up seaside.
1. Skip sugar-free gum
Sure, sugar-free gum and candies are lower in calories, but they also contain sugar alcohols—sugars that have been bound with an alcohol so that your body digests only part of the sugar, explains Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. The partial-digestion process can cause gastrointestinal side effects including bloating, gas, and even diarrhea.
2. Ditch dairy
Many people have some form of lactose intolerance, which makes digesting dairy products difficult, notes Palinski-Wade. If your body can’t break down lactose, consuming any food that contains dairy can result in gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Skip cereal and milk and start your day with eggs and veggies or toast with all-natural peanut butter instead.
3. Undo damage from a night out
If you knocked back a few too many drinks on the boardwalk last night and chased them with salty food, your stomach is probably feeling swollen from the alcohol and salt. The fix: drink 12 ounces of coconut water (look for varieties without added sugar) shortly after you wake up to rehydrate and help eliminate bloat. “The potassium in the water helps balance sodium levels in the body and can help fight water retention,” says Palinski-Wade.
4. Ease up on fiber
A high-fiber nutrition bar seems like a healthy, low-calorie snack to help stave off hunger between meals, but if your stomach can’t handle all the fiber (and potential sugar alcohols in the bar), you might experience bloating and abdominal pain. Fill up on fruit and nuts instead.
5. Set down the soda
You know that bubbly drinks make you burp, which is your body’s way of getting rid of excess air in your stomach. But when gas doesn't escape via belching, it can build up and make you bloated. On beach day, stay away from carbonated beverages and drink plenty of water—that last part might sound counterintuitive, but it works.
6. Order a smarter side
We all know french fries aren’t flat-abs food, but when you’re on vacation, it’s sometimes easy to just say, “Why not?” Before you reach for the plate keep in mind that the greasy treat could make you look puffy—and send energy levels plummeting. Fat slows down stomach emptying and can make you feel overly full. You’re better off ordering steamed veggies or a side salad, which won’t weigh you down for days.
7. Keep moving
It’s tempting to skip a workout when you’ve dedicated the day to bumming around on the beach, but don’t glue yourself to a lounge chair the second you’ve taken your last bite of lunch. “Going for a brisk walk after a meal can increase the speed of digestion and help food move quickly through your GI tract,” says Palinski-Wade. Exercise can also work to expel excess gas from your intestinal tract, helping your body beat bloat. Beach volleyball, anyone?
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