Great nutrition can never be overlooked or downplayed when it comes to achieving a flat stomach.
Not only are certain foods prone to causing a bulging waistline, but they can also play a major part in making you feel like you’ve gained 5kg after eating a meal.
It goes without saying that there is great importance in having a regular exercise program that involves cardio, abdominal training and high-intensity exercise worked into your weekly schedule, however, an even greater importance needs to be placed on what you eat, in order to achieve a flat stomach and remove bloating.
It may well be bloating and not fat that gives you a puffy midsection, therefore it’s important to have a focus on foods that help in keeping your body lean as well as reduce the risk of bloating.
The chief offenders of bloating include a slow digestive system, excessive gas production through food intolerances, digestive issues including the inability to digest proteins and certain carbohydrates, imbalances in healthy gut bacteria, the wrong choices in food including soda, refined sugars and alcohol and even hormone imbalances.
We’ve handpicked a few foods below that nourish the body, reduce bloating, promote a healthy intestinal and digestive tract, as well as help in eliminating pain and discomfort after eating.
Ginger has a long history in alleviating symptoms of pain within the gastrointestinal tract. It’s been used traditionally for centuries in promoting the elimination of intestinal gas and relaxing and soothing the intestinal tract. Grate ginger into a glass of water or over salad for a refreshing and powerful source of anti-inflammatory goodness.
2. Green Tea
Green tea has a range of health benefits, including being a great source of antioxidants. However what is of even greater benefit to someone looking for a flat stomach is green tea’s ability to increase a person’s metabolism. In fact, a 2008 study found that green tea can reduce body weight in obese people by increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation.
Avocados are one of the most fibre rich foods on the planet, containing high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibre, allowing your body to move food through the digestive tract and stay regular. For fibre to work effectively you need to ensure proper hydration, so be sure to drink water regularly or waste can build up causing issues with your digestive tract.
Along with a range of B vitamins, potassium, copper, as well as Vitamin C & K, cucumbers are made up of 95% water, making them an excellent choice for keeping your stomach flat and fighting off bloating. Cucumber is a food that has both high water content and fibre which are both essential for a healthy digestive system.
In fact, the skin of the cucumber has a large amount of insoluble fibre which moves food quickly through the stomach and digestive tract aiding in faster elimination.
Blueberries, blackberries, acai, and raspberries are a fantastic source of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber, a key to a healthy intestinal tract. Berries, especially raspberries are high in soluble fiber which forms a gel like substance when mixed with fluid in your stomach and can slow and potentially reduce the amount of carbohydrates and dietary fat that is absorbed into your body.
This can potentially help reduce the amount of food the body keeps as fat storage by removing food matter out of your digestive system before all of it has been fully absorbed.
6. Fermented Vegetables
Carrots and cabbages are a great place to start when it comes to fermenting your own vegetables. Fermented vegetables are a powerful defense when it comes to improving digestion and removing bloating.
They provide not only high nutritional value but the fermentation process produces powerful strains of good bacteria including Lactobacillus, a key bacteria strain that helps fight off disease and infection within the gastrointestinal tract, allowing the gut to effectively do its job in digesting food.
Here are a couple of great YouTube clips to watch showing you how to ferment your own veggies at home (clip 1 and clip 2). It’s much better to ferment your own vegetables, as most store-bought fermented food have been boiled and stripped of their good bacteria.
Cultivation of Flaxseed goes back as far as 3000 BC to the days of the Babylonians. Today flaxseed is known as a superfood for its omega 3 anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as being a potent antioxidant and a great source of fiber. Of great importance for someone looking for a flat stomach is flaxseed’s high level of soluble fibre which helps slow down your digestion helping you feel fuller for longer.
To make things even better, the omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseed are made up of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which helps protect the lining of the digestive tract. Therefore this benefits the overall health of the digestive tract, and in turn, reduces the risk of bloating.
The hype around turmeric being one of the best superfoods on the planet is for good reason. Apart from its wide range of benefits to both the heart and brain, turmeric’s been used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, incorporated into digestive tonics for gut health as well as removing flatulence.
One of the ways turmeric helps the digestive system is by alleviating indigestion by improving the production of bile that comes from the gall bladder. This, in turn, helps the body in its breakdown of fats. Turmeric is best enjoyed in curries or as a drink but can also be taken as a supplement in the form of curcumin which is the principal curcuminoid within turmeric.
The wonder of pineapple on digestive health lies in the powerful digestive enzyme bromelain that is in abundance in this delicious tropical fruit. Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes that help break down and absorb proteins within your digestive tract.
Pineapples have also been used for centuries in both Central and South American cultures to treat indigestion and reduce inflammation.
Pineapple is also high in soluble fibre which as explained previously helps you feel fuller for longer, reducing your desire to eat more.
Similarly to pineapples, papaya is great for digestion due to a digestive enzyme called papain that is found in abundance in the papaya fruit. Papain works much the same as bromelain in that it helps break down protein, into smaller compounds, in this case, peptides and amino acids.
By doing this, papain is able to assist in greater protein and nutrient absorption, while providing strong natural assistance to the digestive process. This, in turn, reduces complications in the gut while also digesting a greater amount of nutrients, which makes the body feel more satisfied and fuller for longer.
Foods that are high in potassium such as bananas help your body get rid of excess water retention, particularly around your midsection. The reason behind this is because fluid retention comes down to an imbalance between potassium and sodium. Since the modern diet is typically high in sodium (think junk foods), it’s easy for our body to lack the needed amount of potassium to balance out the high levels of sodium.
You should, therefore, focus on reducing sodium by cutting out packaged junk food and increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods you eat such as bananas, avocados, and white beans, which will, in turn, reduce the amount of unnecessary fluid your body retains.
12. Water (ok, not quite a "food")
Although it’s not a food, water is of such critical importance to digestion and maintaining a flat stomach that it wouldn’t make sense for it not to be on the list!
Not drinking enough water is a common trigger for both bloating and constipation, so in order to flatten your stomach, it’s critical that you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. Water not only will help soften stools but it’ll also aid in digestion, as your body loses fluids during the process of digesting food.
When you don’t drink enough water the colon will pool water from stools in order to keep the body hydrated, which in turn leads to constipation. When this happens your body is not passing the food that you’ve eaten effectively, leading to bloating, constipation or long term health conditions, many of which can lead to weight gain.
Nutrition is Key
So if your goal is to lean up, remove stubborn fat and get a flat stomach, your first focus should be on the food that you put into your mouth. The right food choices are so important to ensure we are nourishing our bodies so that we are able to keep off excess fat, remove bloating and ensuring that our digestive system works in balance. And of course, don’t forget to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day!