Why am I Bloated Even Though I’m Eating Healthy?


question-icon-newI’m trying to stay skinny and eat the right things. But no matter how healthy I eat and even how little I eat, I still get really bloated. I’m always worried about getting fat! Can you tell me a good way to keep my weight constant and my stomach thin (no bloating)? I run track and exercise on a daily basis, so I’m very active. In terms of my diet, here is what I ate today:

  • Breakfast: bowl of cereal (Mini-Wheats)
  • Snack: Kellogg’s cereal bar (the 90 calorie ones)
  • Lunch: chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread with some tortilla chips
  • Snack: apple with peanut butter
  • Dinner: small bowl of chicken stir fry with chicken & veggies over noodles

By the way, I always followed strict portion sizes with each serving of food I eat. I do not drink any soda, just lots of water and juice on a daily basis.

answer-icon-newYour current diet plan is far from ideal for dropping body fat and attaining a lean physique. Here are a few tips to help you:

Shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Split up the total over the course of 5-6 meals. Evenly spacing your protein throughout the day is much better than consuming huge amounts in one sitting. Protein is critical for maintaining and building lean muscle tissue. You really want to focus on keeping the quality muscle you have since muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in the body and burns calories even when you’re at rest. By just adding 1 pound of lean muscle to your body, you will burn approximately 50 extra calories every day. On the other hand, if you lose a pound of muscle then your metabolic rate will decrease (number of calories your body burns) and you will have a much more difficult time losing body fat. This is why it’s so important to always include weight training in your overall fitness program and to also make sure to eat enough protein every day to fuel your muscles.

chicken-veggies-mealCut out the empty carbs and processed foods. This includes cereals, noodles, cereal bars, juice, etc. If your juice is not 100% fresh squeezed (unprocessed), it has way too many sugars and calories which will spike your insulin levels and limit your fat loss. These are not the optimal type of calories and they will not help you achieve your fat loss goals. Even if buy fresh squeezed juice, it’s not really the most ideal thing you want to consume if your goal is to get lean. Although fresh juice has many great vitamins and minerals, it simply has too many simple sugars which are easily converted into body fat. Remember, fruit sugar contains fructose which is stored as liver glycogen, not muscle glycogen as it would be if you ate a starchy carbohydrate like brown rice. Liver glycogen can only hold about 100 grams of carbs before they “spill over” into body fat. So, try to really watch your consumption of any drinks with carbs which include all types of juices. When in doubt, stick with water.

Most of the food bars on the market are glorified candy bars. Make sure to check the sugar content and grams of protein. When you look on the back of the label, look for “sugar alcohols” listed under carbohydrates on the nutritional breakdown. Sugar alcohols act as basic sugars in your body and they need to be taken into consideration when choosing a food bar. Make sure the bar has at least 15 grams of protein, and ideally around 20-30 grams. The fat content is also very important, so look at the overall total number of fat grams since many of the food bars on the market pack their products with fat in order to achieve a good taste. Overall calories are of the utmost importance. Any protein bar or meal replacement bar should not contain over 500 calories. The ideal calorie level should be between 300-400 calories per bar.

Add weights and cardio workouts to add lean muscle mass and burn extra calories. This is the cornerstone to achieving a lean physique. Combining this with a clean diet will result in amazing changes in your body. Don’t worry about getting too big if you’re a woman. Women simply do not have the levels of testosterone that men have and no matter how much you lift weights, you will not get as big as a guy. The importance of including weight training along with cardio is to maintain and even gain lean muscle tissue. As noted above, your BMR (basal metabolic rate) will decrease if you lose muscle tissue and you will have a much harder time trying to strip off body fat. You want to create a powerful fat burning furnace and the way to do that is to add lean muscle to your body.

The bloating issue you have is probably due to your sodium consumption. Pay careful attention to the amount of salt you eat (added to foods) as well as the sodium content in the foods you consume every day. Look on the back of the food package at the nutritional information and be aware of the milligrams of sodium it has in it. Drinking water will help flush your system as well. If you consume alcohol, this can also cause you to be bloated so make sure to watch the beers or other alcoholic drinks you partake in.

Cut back on the starchy carbs at dinner time. You are currently eating noodles as your last meal of the day which wreaks havoc on fat burning. Replace the noodles with fibrous carbs (veggies) such as broccoli, mushrooms and zucchini. The reason you want to avoid starchy carbs at night is due to the insulin spike as well as the “feel good” hormones that are released when you have a high carb meal later in the day. Carbs like noodles spike your blood sugar levels and when your body has increased blood sugar, it releases the hormone insulin in order to bring your levels back down to normal. Your body can’t burn fat in the presence of insulin, so make sure to cut back on the starchy carbs at night. Also, your body releases “feel good” hormones (dopamine and serotonin) which tends to make people eat more once they get into this zone when they consume carbs later in the day. This is the perfect storm for an all out carbohydrate binge, so make sure to control all of these hormones by replacing all starchy carbs with fibrous ones at dinner time.

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  1. I have a similar issue BUT, I’m 46. I workout almost every day by doing different muscle group or a set of muscle groups each day. I start with stretches then abs curls on a stationary machine, squats with assisted weight machine then I tackle my targeted muscle group for the day. I end with the treadmill on a 6 to 6.5 incline. I’m a vegetarian (pesco/ovo). Here’s a general days worth of food: Muscle Milk protein shake with a banana and handful of nuts or seeds. Plain oatmeal with 1/4 cup of nuts. Veggie sandwich with a handful of seeds. Muscle Milk protein shake. Salmon, brown rice, broccoli, carrots. Muscle Milk protein shake or Special K (Protein or Cinnamon Pecan) cereal with almond milk. My entire body is pretty lean and muscular (legs, thighs, arms) and I weigh 121 pounds. Water is my main drink (NO soda, juice), along with teas with Stevia as sweetener. My obliques are defined but my abs not so much. HELP!

    • Hi Jennifer – Try mixing up your cardio with whole body workouts like jumping rope, using a rowing machine or doing the elliptical (arms included). Do 45-60 minutes in the morning on an empty stomach (have a BCAA drink during the workout). If you have access to stairs, here is a great calorie burning HIIT routine that combines stair sprints with jump rope. This should shock your body into fat burning mode and get that little extra fat off your stomach.

      • Thanks! I recently read an article regarding the use of BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids). I had spoken with a trainer and he also thought it was a great next step. I had not even thought about jumping rope! Great info! Thanks again 🙂

    • It’s a little late for this reply, but somebody else may find it helpful. I don’t have science for this (sorry), but I know a LOT of women who experience bloat with certain brands of protein shakes, that goes down after they find a brand that works for them. I think women are just different than men when it comes to the supplements we tolerate and the ones we don’t.

      • Thanks Mallory! Yes, I have friends that have experienced bloat from protein shakes. I swear by and LIVE by Muscle Milk. I have switched in the past and found that I could ONLY tolerate Muscle Milk (good thing for me though since I love the taste). I received another comment in regard to changing my cardio routine and using BCAAs (branched chain amino acids). I also started watching my overall sugar intake. I am unsure which of the three things did it OR if it was a combination of the three, but my abs are looking good now! Thanks again for your comment!

  2. I’m a 15 year old girl which seems a young age to be thinking about weight loss, but I’m in a competitive, high level basketball team and I’m trying my best to get a toned stomach. However, I will eat foods like yogurt or small things like that, but anything makes my stomach look massive. I’m doing ab workouts and basketball training almost every day and I was just wondering what I can do to stop my stomach from getting so big every time I eat and also how I can tighten up my abs.

  3. People agree with me. My stomach isn’t normally big and then when I eat, my stomach gets massive and stays that way so it’s harder for me to lose it and get it toned.

    • Hi Hannah – That doesn’t sound normal so you might want to make an appointment with your doctor and get it checked out just to be on the safe side.

  4. After reading this article regarding what she ate, I would be beyond bloated. However, I am always bloated and I try to stick to a “low-FODMAP” diet (Fermentable, Oligo, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols). My typical daily diet is: Breakfast is 2 eggs. Lunch is strawberries, pineapple and a banana. Dinner is fish or chicken, a sweet potato, raspberries or strawberries and maybe some walnuts. I drink green tea, cranberry juice and water. I am also a fitness instructor, personal trainer and Pilates instructor. I do 1-2 classes a day, 6 days a week and walk more than 13,000 steps a day and do weight training once a week. I am still bloated before and after my workouts and classes. This has been just in the last year and I don’t know why! I visited a doctor who suggested a low-FODMAP diet and I have been on it for 9 months with no changes. Any advice?

    • Hi Nicole – You might look into taking digestive enzyme supplements and probiotics to help with your bloating issues.

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