You do cardio, crunches and eat a clean diet, but your belly still sticks out when you look in the mirror. It’s frustrating when you’re exercising hard and still see puffy tummy when you look in the mirror. Make sure what you’re seeing is actually belly fat. There are other reasons why your tummy may not look as toned and flat as you’d like that has nothing to do with how much abdominal fat you have. Here are two common ones.
Abdominal Bloating and Distension
Abdominal bloating and distension are usually caused by digestive issues or chronic air swallowing. Some unfortunate people get so distended after a meal they look six months pregnant. Always check this symptom out with a doctor since it can be a sign of serious health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, gluten intolerance, impaired gastric motility, liver disease or ovarian cancer. It can also be a symptom of a common condition called irritable bowel syndrome.
Most cases of abdominal distension that comes and goes after a meal are related to food intolerances. Many people have difficulty absorbing carbohydrates in foods like beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, and some whole grains. When these carbs aren’t absorbed, bacteria feed on them and produce gas and abdominal bloating.
If your tummy distension comes from food intolerance, all the crunches in the world won’t fix the problem, although some abdominal exercises help move gas through the digestive tract more quickly. If you’re bothered by frequent bloating and distension, see your doctor to rule out more serious health problems. Then keep a food diary for a few months to determine what foods trigger the problem.
Abdominal distension can also be caused by swallowing too much air when you eat or drink. Slow down the pace of your meals and stop talking during meals. Don’t drink through a straw, and avoid carbonated beverages and chewing gum. Sometimes taking simethicone pills available at most drugstores helps to break up the air bubbles and relieve the distension.
Sure you do crunches, aerobics and lift weights, but what are you doing to help your posture? When you have poor posture you slump. This causes your lower tummy to bulge even if you have a six-pack. You can make your tummy look slimmer instantly by simply standing up straighter and pulling your body into alignment. Poor posture not only makes you look out of shape, but it also throws your entire body out of alignment and increases your risk for orthopedic problems. Spending long hours in front of a computer screen makes bad posture worse because you’re hunched over for long periods of time.
To take control of bad posture, become more conscious of it. Stand in front of a mirror and line up everything from your head to your feet as if you’re suspended by a string. Try to consciously maintain this alignment throughout the day. Practice it enough, and it will become second nature. During the day when you’re in front of your computer, switch your chair for an exercise ball. The surface of an exercise ball is unstable, which forces you to align your spine properly to balance. Yoga exercises also help to align your body and increase body awareness.
The Bottom Line?
Abdominal bloating and distension and poor posture can make even the most toned tummy look out of shape. Make sure these two causes of a big tummy aren’t creating a problem for you and preventing you from having flat abs.
WebMD. “Look Thinner in an Instant”
Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition.
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