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Video: How to beat belly bloat

updated 4/27/2009 10:24:37 AM ET 2009-04-27T14:24:37

The 4-day jumpstart is a great way to reduce belly bloat and start flattening your stomach instantly. You can lose up to 7 pounds! You’ll drink Sassy Water (a signature Flat Belly recipe) while eating healthy foods and drinks that will help flush out excess fluid, reduce water retention, and relieve gas that can bloat your belly. Here are key foods to avoid on the jumpstart.

Salt
Avoid the saltshaker, salt-based seasonings, and highly processed foods. Water is attracted to sodium, so when you take in higher than usual amounts, you’ll temporarily retain more fluid —which contributes to a sluggish feeling, a puffy appearance, and extra water weight.

Excess carbs
As a backup energy source, your muscles store a type of carbohydrate called glycogen. Every gram of glycogen is stored with about 3 grams of water. But unless you’re running a marathon tomorrow, you don’t need all this stockpiled fuel. Decreasing your carbohydrate intake temporarily can train your body to access this stored fuel and burn it off. At the same time, you'll drain off the excess stored fluid.

Bulky raw foods
A half-cup serving of cooked carrots delivers the same nutrition as one cup raw, but it takes up less room in your GI tract. Eat only cooked vegetables, smaller portions of unsweetened dried fruit, and canned fruits in natural juice. This will allow you to meet your nutrient needs without expanding your GI tract with extra volume.

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Gassy foods
Certain foods simply create more gas in your GI tract. They include legumes, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, peppers, and citrus fruits.

Sugar alcohols
These sugar substitutes, which go by the names xylitol or maltitol, are often found in low-calorie or low-carb products like cookies, candy, and energy bars because they taste sweet. Like fiber, your GI tract can’t absorb most of them. That's good for your calorie bottom line, but not so good for your belly. Sugar alcohols cause gas, abdominal distention, bloating, and diarrhea. Avoid them.

Fried foods
Fatty foods, especially the fried variety, are digested more slowly, causing you to feel heavy and bloated. On the Flat Belly Diet you'll eat fats, but you'll eat the healthy kind — MUFAs (short for monounsaturated fatty acids) — that target hard-to-lose visceral belly fat. MUFAs can be found in oils (such as olive oil), olives, nuts and seeds, avocado, and dark chocolate. Yum!

Spicy foods
Foods seasoned with black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, chili powder, hot sauces, onions, garlic, mustard, barbecue sauce, horseradish, catsup, tomato sauce, or vinegar can all stimulate the release of stomach acid, which can cause irritation.

Carbonated drinks
Where do you think all those bubbles end up? They gang up in your belly! Swap these beverages for delicious Sassy Water (the Flat Belly Diet's signature drink). You’ll enjoy this soothing, flavorful water on the jumpstart and can continue drinking it throughout the diet (many Flat Belly Dieters do!).

High-acid drinks
Alcohol, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and acidic fruit juices: Each of these high-acid beverages can irritate your GI tract, causing swelling. You can have these drinks in moderation after the jumpstart if you choose.

Chewing gum
You probably don’t realize this, but when you chew gum, you swallow air. All that air gets trapped in your GI tract and causes pressure, bloating, and belly expansion.

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