Once a month, every woman has to deal with it, some even suffer from it for up to two weeks: Bloating.
I used to weigh myself once a week and every time my weight would go up at least 5lbs, I knew it was that time of the month again. No matter what I did, nothing seemed to help. My thighs would look swollen, not to mention my belly.
As women, we tend to react sensitive to carbohydrates and are less Insulin sensitive than men. Thus, if you are trying to increase your metabolism by reverse dieting, you will inevitably experience serious bloating for at least 1-2 weeks.
I struggled with this for a long time and I still do. Recently, I have tested a new scientific technique along with my Insulin reset and dropped 7lbs overnight! So, I figured I should share my secrets with you, to hopefully help you get back your flat belly.
I am very excited to share that I have been nominated for the european health bloggers award in category “nutrition”! If you like the content of this site and want me to keep writing (despite my med school finals!) please vote for me!
My tricks to stop bloating
The following are my ways to stop bloating. There may be many different kinds of “diets” to rapidly reduce your body’s water retention but none of them is healthy for you. I am referring to any kinds of diuretic pills or those causing diarrhea. Those pills do not only flush out water but also electrolytes and they can actually cause brain damage. Unless you are preparing for a colonoscopy, stay away from those pills!
As I explained, one of the main contributors to bloating are carbohydrates. Especially during that time of the month, women are very sensitive to carbohydrates. This means that we tend to become more Insulin resistant. Thus, the carbs we do eat cannot access our organs, muscles and stay in our blood system. High blood sugar levels contribute to high risk for many diseases but can also increase water retention. Thus, we need to reset our Insulin sensitivity.
Download my Insulin reset plan and do a more drastic version of it for 2 days to 1 week.
- For the first day, don’t have any carbs other than 2 servings of fruit and vegetables (each). You can even expand this to the second day as well. This one alone should help you to drop some water weight.
1 serving of fruit is the size of your cupped hand. So, think one apple, or a cupped hand of berries.
- For the following days, only have carbs in the morning, a little bit pre-workout and then 50% of your carbohydrates if not more for post-workout. Reduce your carbohydrate intake in general and stick to “clean” carb sources (such as brown rice, sweet potato, 2 servings of fruit). This is not the time for cheat meals!
This is a more drastic version of my “Insulin Reset” Nutrition Plan. If you are Insulin resistant or have diabetes, I recommend you to stick to my nutrition plan, as you need a longer and more gradual plan. Make sure to talk to your doctor first before making any drastic changes in your diet. Everybody is different and your metabolism might react better or not at all to this.
Drink water to flush out the water.
I personally prefer to drink green tea, as it acts as a natural diuretic and also increases metabolism. I drink about 3-4 liters of fluids on training days and I am sure at least 1.5-2 liters of that is green tea. Make sure not to have it at night though because a good sleep is very important as well.
Don’t forget sodium
I am going to surprise you here and not tell you to cut out sodium. In fact, it does not matter how much sodium you consume, at least for water retention and weight loss.
What matters is the water – sodium ratio. Thus, if you drink a lot of water but cut out all sodium, you will lack important electrolytes. This will cause brain damage, is not good for your heart and you will feel tired as well. In fact, sodium is important for synthesis of many hormones as well – including our fat burning and hunger regulating hormones.
Anything that your body gets used to, is tolerated. Thus, drink your water but also get in your healthy sodium.
Just to further clarify this point, when I say “You can have sodium” I refer to natural occurring or the unprocessed kind of sodium – such as Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan salt. In addition to that, some foods contain a lot of sodium as well, such as pickles and tuna.
Instead of cutting out all sodium sources, I am recommending you to cut out all processed foods. Those contain cheap kinds of sodium in very high quantities. If you aim to get in sodium with natural foods and Himalayan salt only – it will not cause bloating.
Sugar is the real issue
Simple sugar causes high Insulin spikes and binds a lot of water. Thus, we need to watch our sugar intake to get rid of the bloating. Have 2 servings of fruit a day and choose fruits with a lower glycemic index, such as berries and apples. Bananas and grapes have very high sugar content, so leave those out for now.
Again, cutting out all processed foods will also help reducing your sugar intake. Only get your sugar from natural foods and aim to stay below 50 grams, if you are watching your sugar intake closely.
(As a reference, 2 servings of fruit contain about 30-40 grams of sugar already. Vegetables such as carrots and pepper and sweet potatoes add up to this as well, so make sure to control your portion sizes on those as well.)
Sweat it out
This point is obvious but I am going to mention it anyways. One of the best ways to get rid of bloating fast is a good workout session. Elevate your heart rate, sweat a lot and burn calories. It will also improve digestion and helps against constipation. Daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes that causes you to sweat is enough.
Rule out food intolerances
Apart from hormonal imbalances and food intake, you might have a serious underlying issue that is causing bloating. If you have not been tested for lactose and wheat intolerance, make sure to do so! Many times, people experience instant relieve once they leave out the foods they cannot properly digest. Food intolerances can severely decrease your immune system too, so take this one seriously.
Decrease eating frequency
If you are following fitness blogs or accounts on social media, you might have read of the famous saying that “6 meals a day” will get you your “dream abs”.
This is not only a myth but it can also worsen your bloating issues. Especially if your diet consists of whole-foods, such as fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, eating 6 meals a day might overload your digestive system. Even when the meals you are eating are small in portion sizes, you are never giving your stomach time to properly digest the food.
In addition to that, you will neither be satisfied and full (to the point where you are not stuffed but just not hungry anymore), nor will you be able to listen to your body’s own hunger signals. In fact, I find it very stressful to be constantly thinking about having to eat. We don’t want to turn healthy living into an obsession and make it as easy as possible to stick to. If you are as busy as me, you want to eat your meal and then focus on your work, business, whatever it is that you are doing.
I prefer to leave at least 4-5, sometimes 6 hours of rest after lunch. Dinner is typically my biggest meal of the day, being my post-workout meal. As I have burned off a lot of calories, I am naturally very hungry and eat until I am satisfied.
Cut out sugar-free stuff
Stevia is one of the only natural sweeteners you can use without having any health concerns. In addition to that, Splenda, or Sucralose, does not seem to have any side effects on health as well, as long as you use it in moderation.
Apart from that, many sugar-free sodas, syrups and especially gums contain Sorbitol and Aspartame. Aspartame has been proven to induce cancer a long time ago. You should never use products containing it (so, say goodbye to sugar-free gum! There are Xylitol gumswithout any Sorbitol and Aspartame and they are great for whitening your teeth)!
When it comes to Sorbitol, it is all about practicing moderation. It is not harmful by itself but if you use too much of it, it can cause serious bloating and diarrhea. Thus, if you were using a lot of sugar-free products to stay on track while dieting, reduce the portion sizes or cut them out completely for a few days.
One of the biggest factors contributing to bloating and water retention is increased cortisol levels. Stress can lead to weight gain, water retention, development of many diseases, I have written an entire 6-part series on that. I hope you will learn from that series why it is crucial to keep our cortisol levels in check. You might be following all other tips mentioned in this article but if you are constantly stressed out, you will not achieve your goals.
Some helpful supplements
I am not a big advocate of supplements but there are some that might speed up the process and help you get rid of bloating.
- L-Carnitine: I am going to write a full article on this supplement, as it is very useful for fat burning, performance and general health as well. L-Carnitine is used in our body to transport fatty acids into our mitochondria to use as fuel. It does not only increase fat loss, it also increases body temperature. Thus, you will sweat a lot. This will speed up the process and help you stop bloating.
- Cholin and Inositol: These two are a power-duo when it comes to improving digestion, sleep, mental focus, fat metabolism and lastly anti-aging effects. Choline and Inositol are used constantly in our body but we would need to eat at least 30 eggs a day to reach our daily requirements. If you have digestive problems and these cause your bloating, these might definitely help you.
As I already mentioned, there are many other supplements on the market but I cannot recommend anything to you that I have not used myself.
You can try out some diuretic teas but don’t go overboard on those as well. If you stick to all the points mentioned above, your bloating should reduce at least at the second day, if not instantly.
You can have a look at my supplements on this page. As I already mentioned, I will explain in detail which ones may benefit you and which brands are safe to use.
If you follow the tricks I mentioned above, you will hopefully be able to reduce your bloating and water retention by probably 80-90%. However, especially if you are female, avoiding the once-per-month bloating is nearly impossible. Some of us are more sensitive to hormonal changes in our body than others. You may gain less water weight than before but don’t expect your bloating to be gone completely. Instead, free yourself from the number on the scale and accept the fact that your are a female! Love your body no matter what you look like. As long as you are healthy and the only reason you are bloated is your change of estrogen levels, there is nothing to be concerned about. I know this last tip is vague and hard to use but it is probably the most important tip of all! If you are not able to appreciate your body the way it is now, you will not love yourself even when you are very lean.
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If you know of other tricks to stop bloating – comment below!