Bloating can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and inconvenient.
It’s common and can be caused by a variety of factors that range from food intolerances to constipation.
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple strategies you can use to quickly beat the bloat.
Here are 8 easy and effective ways to debloat in just one or a few days.
1. Drink plenty of water
Staying well-hydrated is crucial if you’re trying to debloat, as drinking water regularly throughout the day can prevent fluid retention caused by dehydration.
What’s more, it can prevent constipation, which is a common cause of bloating.
Ideally, stick to drinks like water or tea whenever possible and steer clear of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, juice, and sports drinks.
Although hydration needs vary between people, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that men drink approximately 13 cups (3 liters) of water per day, while women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters).
Summary: Staying hydrated can prevent fluid retention and constipation, both of which can cause bloating.
2. Consider your fiber intake
Fiber is a compound found in plant foods. It moves slowly through your digestive tract, adding bulk to stools and delaying stomach emptying.
Adding more fiber to your diet offers many health benefits. These include increased regularity, which can help prevent constipation and bloating.
However, it’s important to add fiber to your diet gradually. Increasing your intake too quickly can worsen digestive issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults should aim for at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they consume.
Summary: Fiber can prevent constipation, which could decrease bloating. Because increasing your intake too quickly can worsen bloating and other digestive issues, you should add it gradually rather than suddenly.
3. Eat less sodium
Sodium is an important mineral that plays a key role in fluid balance.
Eating lots of high sodium foods can cause your body to retain more water, which may lead to bloating and puffiness. Thus, reducing your intake of these foods is a simple way to prevent those symptoms.
In particular, processed foods like fast food, convenience meals, fried foods, and salty snacks tend to be higher in sodium.
Instead, choose nutrient-dense, minimally processed ingredients whenever possible and experiment with herbs and spices to add flavor to your favorite foods.
Summary: Eating lots of high sodium foods can cause your body to retain more fluid and lead to bloating. Instead, opt for nutrient-dense, low sodium foods, and use herbs and spices to flavor your meals instead of salt.
4. Be mindful of food intolerances
It’s important to be aware of any food allergies or intolerances that you may have, as these can contribute to bloating.
For example, lactose intolerance — the inability to digest the natural sugar found in milk — can cause symptoms like bloating, fullness, gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Similarly, those with celiac disease — a gluten sensitivity — may experience digestive issues like bloating after consuming gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley, and rye.
Additionally, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sometimes advised to limit foods high in fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), which are carbs that are poorly absorbed in the digestive tract, to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms.
Being aware of which foods trigger your symptoms can help you modify your diet to prevent issues like bloating. Try keeping a food and symptoms journal for a few weeks to identify when your symptoms may arise.
Suggested read: 20 foods and drinks that help with bloating
Summary: Certain food intolerances can cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people. Identifying and avoiding triggering foods may limit your symptoms.
5. Steer clear of sugar alcohol
Sugar alcohols are a type of carb found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables. They’re used as a low-calorie sweetener in many processed foods.
Because they’re not fully digested by the body, they can cause digestive issues like gas, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain among some people.
Sugar alcohols are found in many processed foods like gum, granola bars, sugar-free candies, and soft drinks under names like xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. Thus, reducing your intake of these foods may minimize digestive side effects like bloating.
Summary: Sugar alcohols are not fully digested by your body and can cause digestive issues like bloating in some people. Avoiding foods with these ingredients may reduce these issues.
6. Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is a practice that involves minimizing external distractions, eating slowly, and paying close attention to how your food looks, tastes, and smells.
Studies show that practicing mindful eating can help prevent binge and emotional eating, which may decrease bloating and weight gain.
Furthermore, chewing more slowly can help keep you from swallowing extra air, which is another common cause of gas and bloating.
To get started, try eliminating distractions like TV or smartphone use while you eat, chewing each bite of food thoroughly, focusing on how your meals make you feel, and stopping once you feel full.
Summary: Mindful eating can help prevent overeating and keep you from swallowing extra air, which could decrease gas and bloating.
7. Try using probiotics
Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in the digestive tract. They’ve been linked to a long list of health benefits, ranging from increased weight loss to enhanced immune function.
Plus, some research suggests that increasing your intake of probiotics through food or supplements could reduce bloating and improve digestive health.
For instance, one review of 70 studies concluded that certain types of probiotics may promote regularity and decrease bloating and stomach distension in people with IBS.
Another study including 156 people with constipation found that taking a daily probiotic supplement for 2 weeks reduced digestive discomfort more than a placebo.
In addition to taking supplements, you can boost your intake of probiotics by adding more fermented foods and drinks to your diet, including sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. Other probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, tempeh, and kefir.
Summary: Increasing your intake of probiotics from fermented foods or supplements can improve digestive health and help you debloat.
Water weight vs. fat loss
Bloating can be caused by several factors, including gastrointestinal issues, food intolerances, and increased water retention.
When it comes to decreasing water retention to alleviate bloating, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a difference between losing water weight and body fat.
While the strategies listed above can help decrease bloating associated with fluid retention, water weight loss is usually short-term and temporary.
Short-term fluctuations in body weight can easily amount to 2.2–4.4 pounds (1–2 kg) over just a few days or weeks.
Meanwhile, losing body fat is a slower process that involves making long-term changes to your diet and lifestyle.
For the best and most sustainable results, it’s generally recommended to aim for 1–2 pounds (0.5–0.9 kg) of weight loss per week and to achieve it via a combination of diet and exercise.
Thus, if your goal is to lose body fat and not just water retention weight, you may need to look further than the suggestions found in this article. Stop by this article for helpful tips on how to lose belly fat.
Summary: Water weight loss is short-term and temporary. While losing water weight can help decrease bloating, long-term fat loss can only be achieved through dietary and exercise modifications.
Bloating is common and often uncomfortable, and a variety of factors can cause it.
Fortunately, using some of the tips outlined above can help alleviate bloating in just a few days.
If you’re instead concerned with losing body fat, keep in mind that this takes longer than losing water weight. It also requires you to make other dietary and lifestyle changes if you want to see long-term, sustainable results.