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 significant part in making you feel like you've gained 5kg after eating a meal. This uncomfortable phenomenon is known as bloating.
Although it's important to have a regular exercise program that involves cardio and resistance training, even greater importance needs to be placed on what you eat, to achieve a flat stomach and eliminate bloating.
If you feel you’re carrying extra weight around your midsection, it’s probably not all fat. Poor digestion and bloating will also contribute to water retention and abdominal distention, so it's essential to focus on foods that reduce the risk of bloating, while also keeping your body lean.
The leading causes of bloating include a sluggish digestive system, excessive gas production through food intolerances, the inability to digest proteins and certain carbohydrates, imbalances in gut bacteria, and even hormonal imbalances. However, poor food choices such as soda, refined sugars and alcohol are also major contributors.
We’ve handpicked a few foods below that nourish the body, reduce bloating, promote a healthy intestinal and digestive tract, as well as help ] eliminate any pain and discomfort after eating.
Ginger has a long history of alleviating symptoms of pain within the gastrointestinal tract. It's been used traditionally for centuries for relaxing, soothing, and promoting the elimination of gas within 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 and is best known as a great source of antioxidants. However, an even greater benefit for someone working towards a flat stomach is green tea's ability to increase your metabolism. The polyphenols found in green tea work to intensify levels of fat oxidation and the rate at which your body turns food into calories. Have you tried Tropeaka Matcha Tea? It has 140x more antioxidants than regular green tea and is also rich in chlorophyll to boost your wellbeing!
Avocados are one of the most fibre-rich foods on the planet, containing high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibre, which enables your body to move food through the digestive tract and stay regular. For fibre to work effectively, you also need to ensure proper hydration. Be sure to drink water regularly to avoid the build-up of waste that can cause uncomfortable issues within your digestive tract.
Along with a range of B vitamins, potassium, and copper, as well as Vitamins C and K, cucumbers are made up of 95% water. This makes them an excellent choice for keeping your stomach flat and fighting off bloating. Water and fibre are essential for a healthy digestive system, and cucumbers boast a high content of both!
Bonus tip: Don’t peel your cucumbers! The skin of the cucumber has a large amount of insoluble fibre, which ensures a fast elimination process by helping food move quickly through the stomach and digestive tract. Just make sure you wash them thoroughly before eating them.
Blueberries, blackberries, acai and raspberries are all fantastic sources of antioxidants, vitamin C and fibre, which you'll know by now are essential for a healthy intestinal tract. All berries, but especially raspberries, are high in soluble fibre, which forms a gel-like substance when mixed with fluid in your stomach. This can reduce the amount of carbohydrates and dietary fat absorbed into your body, meaning extra food will be eliminated through the digestive system, instead of being converted and stored as body fat.
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 defence when it comes to improving digestion and reducing belly bloat.
Fermented foods not only provide high nutritional value, but the fermentation process produces potent strains of good bacteria. One such good bacteria is Lactobacillus, a key strain that helps fight off disease and infection within the gastrointestinal tract, allowing the gut to do its job - digesting food effectively. Here's a great YouTube video that shows you how to ferment your own veggies at home. It’s much better to ferment your own vegetables, as many store-bought fermented foods have sadly been boiled and stripped of their good bacteria, along with other nutrients.
Cultivation of flaxseed goes back as far as 3000 BC to the days of the Babylonians. Today flaxseed is known as a superfood because of its Omega 3 anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as being a potent antioxidant and a great source of soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is of great importance for someone looking for a flat stomach, as it helps slow down your digestion and keep you feeling fuller for longer. As if this wasn't enough, the Omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseed are made up of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps protect the lining of the digestive tract. For these reasons, flaxseed is a must in your bloat-free diet.
The hype around turmeric being one of the best superfoods on the planet exists for a good reason. Apart from its wide range of benefits to both the heart and brain, turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, incorporated into digestive tonics for gut health and reducing flatulence.
One of the ways turmeric helps the digestive system is by alleviating indigestion. Turmeric boosts the production of bile by the gallbladder, which in turn helps the body break down dietary fats. Turmeric is best enjoyed in curries and creamy lattes, but can also be taken as a supplement in the form of curcumin, which is the active curcuminoid found in turmeric.
The power of pineapple on digestive health lies in its abundance of the digestive enzyme, bromelain. This powerful enzyme helps break down and absorb proteins in the gastrointestinal tract. It's no wonder this delicious, tropical fruit has been used for centuries in both Central and South American cultures to treat indigestion and reduce inflammation.
Pineapple is also high in soluble fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the temptation to overeat.
Similarly to pineapples, papaya is great for digestion due to an abundance of a digestive enzyme called papain. 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 assists in increasing protein and nutrient absorption while providing natural assistance to the digestive process. Eating papaya can reduce complications in the gut while helping you absorb more nutrients, which will leave you more satisfied and energised.
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps your body get rid of excess water retention, particularly around your midsection. Fluid retention is a result of an imbalance between the electrolytes, 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.
Focus on reducing sodium by cutting out packaged junk food, while increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods you. In addition to bananas, avocados, potatoes, white beans and coconut water are also excellent sources of potassium. Adding these foods to your diet will 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 to leave it off this list!
Not drinking enough water is a common trigger for both bloating and constipation, so to flatten your stomach, it's essential that you're drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. Not only will staying hydrated help soften your stools, but it'll also aid in healthy digestion, as your body loses much-needed fluids during the process of digesting food.
When you don’t drink enough water, the colon will pull water from your stools to keep you hydrated, which in turn leads to constipation. When this happens, your body can not effectively pass the food that you've eaten, which leads to bloating in the short term, and more serious conditions in the long term, 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 your diet. The right food choices are so important to ensure we are nourishing our bodies. This simple act of self-care helps us keep excess fat off, reduce bloating, and ensures that our digestive system works in balance. And of course, don't forget to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day! Here's a way to make drinking water more fun while balancing your electrolytes!