Ever have that feeling that no matter what you do you still look bloated? Fat loss guru, Nicholas Polo explains how hormones play a key role and brings you advice on what to do
It’s almost the end of your day, you burned 1000 calories of sweat at hot yoga, you skipped happy hour and yet your stomach looks like you’ve swallowed a basketball.
If we all ate well and exercised regularly we should be in a swimsuit shape, right? Not so, for 15-25 per cent of us with the majority being women; despite all efforts with healthy eating and active lifestyle, about one in four healthy women experience bloating regularly.
The reason why this is more concerning than having to deal with your muffin top is obvious. A bloated stomach goes well beyond aesthetics. It means discomfort, poor mood and low energy levels. This cycles in more emotional snacking, less drive for physical activity and you’ve guessed it; more bloating.
We all want a flat stomach. In fact, abs rank top as the body part people are most attracted to and want to improve the most. It makes sense. Your abdominals are your front and centre of your body. That is if you are not wearing a shirt of course!
So what is to blame?
If this is a new thing for you, check with your doctor to eliminate any serious causes like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, liver disease and inflammatory bowel to name a few. Not to panic yet – bloating is rarely a symptom of a serious trouble so the rest and healthy of you, your hormones may be to blame.
“How come?” you may ask. After all, your nice GP told you your tests results came back “normal.” But this is not a first. We go to the doctor eager for help but leave dismissed after being told everything is within the normal range. Normal is not optimum when it comes to hormones says Dr. James Norman specialising in thyroid function and boating.
The way our body functions and absorbs food is different from one person to another. And that is why even when subjected to the same good food and exercise, one person may still feel like a balloon while another may be as flat as a springboard.
a “healthy” diet for one person may not necessarily bring the exact same benefits to someone else.
If we all had just over a few quid to spare on our health rather than a new telly or a holiday and underwent a functional nutritional test we would see that we are all biochemically different.
Balanced nutritional therapist Amy Leung says that everyone is biochemically unique so a “healthy” diet for one person may not necessarily bring the exact same benefits to someone else. A functional nutritional test may help you get to the bottom of it, so you can make the necessary nutritional adjustments and get your body in a fat -burning and self-deflating mode.
A hormone nightmare
Your bloating may be down either oestrogen, progesterone or thyroid hormones not functioning at their best. During the menstrual cycle, there is a fluctuation of estrogen which causes fluid retention and bloating. It is not unusual for women to gain a few pounds during their cycle due to estrogen’s ability to retain fluid. This trend is not constant but it follows a pattern in line with your cycle.
During perimenopause – this is the time before menopause hits which can let five to ten years – estrogen levels still fluctuate, but over longer periods of time. Your ovaries release fewer hormones and your body starts to lose its ability to regulate estrogen making bloating more chronic.
Now you can easily guess what happens during menopause. Bloat, bloat and more bloat!
Similar fluctuation often occurs with progesterone and its changing levels can slow the digestive process making you feel bloated and gassy. In fact, estrogen and progesterone need to be in sync as they both enhance and off set each other’s actions.
Dr. James Norman’s work in thyroid function and boating shows that “normal” Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels don’t mean optimal levels. The “normal” range for TSH as published on the side of most test results is 0.4 – 4.0 mlU/L. However, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has found that when it comes to weight loss, for example, the optimum levels for TSH are below 2 mlU/L. Even a 10 per cent change in metabolic rate can make a significant difference when you are trying to reduce your body fat percentage; an issue easily tackled by the use of medication. Unfortunately not every GP or endocrinologist will be willing to look any further than your normal levels and try to get you out of your misery.
So what is one to do? A study conducted by Concordia University proved a link between hormones linked to bloating and body fat percentage. Lower body fat percentage means better balanced hormones and less bloating. In my training, I specialise in fat loss and these are the ten things that really work.
Read more: My bloating turned out to be ovarian cancer
10 fat loss tips on how to deflate once and for all:
1. Steer clear of processed c^*p
This means foods that have been chemically processed and made from refined or artificial substances like carbonated drinks, cereal, microwave meals and anything nature did not intent for us to shovel down our throat! Processed food comes with added sugar and sodium both enemies of your flat stomach. This means that your best bet is eating foods that are natural or very close to their original natural state like fish, eggs, whole grains, nuts, dark leafy greens.
2. Go sugar-free
A natural way to kick start your hormones again. We have been blessed with hundreds of fad diets to choose from starting with the 5:2 diet to detox juicing. However, unless you are planning to live on liquid for the rest of your life, eliminating your sugar intake for as little as ten days will jump start your hormones and set your body to a fat burning mode again getting rid of the unwanted bloating.
3. Don’t rock your blood sugar
Foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar cause sugar level spikes and destabilise your hormonal balance which is exactly what you don’t want when you combat bloating. Research shows that natural fat and high protein meals are best in keeping blood sugar levels stable. Start your day with smoked salmon and cream cheese or egg omelette breakfast as opposed to a toast, cereal or processed oatmeal.
4. Keep it short, intense and regular
Intense exercise is proven to boost the metabolism and promote fat loss but long sessions can increase stress and negatively impact progesterone production. A 10 minute treadmill blast workout of 20 seconds sprints and 40 seconds rest time can go long way towards your flat stomach. Daily 10-15mins workout sessions may be more effective to your boating than your usual 3 times a week hour long sessions. A study by the European Journal of Applied Physiology says that a daily treadmill run will help you feel less puffy and lower circulating levels of progesterone.
5. Know your tolerances
Being lactose intolerant is one of the main causes for bloating. Lactose is sugar found in milk and dairy products and contributes to temporary gas and bloating and those who are intolerant to lactose products will experience this effect more than others. Whether you combat bloating or fat gain or both, you may want to put milk aside and when it comes to cheese, opt for the naturally aged cheese like cheddar, parmesan or swiss usually easier digested by those with lactose intolerance.
6. Have a drink
Sorry, but we are not talking about wine. A glass of warm fresh lemon water topped with ½ tsp of psyllium husk fibre (from health food stores) in the morning on empty stomach will help with digestion, thanks to the lemon’s citric acid. It will also keep you regular and full and clear of cravings and unhealthy snacking during the day. Less unhealthy snacking means less bloating. Drinking may resume in the evening with a cup of Korean Ginseng tea – an excellent blood sugar stabiliser!
7. Watch out for fat-free
Fat-free foods usually means added sugar. And guess what – food suppliers have another year before the US Food and Drug Administration forces them to include added sugar on the ingredients label.
8. Eat your berries
When it comes to fruit, berries are what most body competitors go for and they know a thing or two about getting a flat stomach! Berries have a very low glycemic load (GL) meaning how quickly food containing carbs can affect you blood sugar levels when eaten by themselves. Berries have a low impact on your blood sugar levels. Other fruits that score well are watermelon and grapefruit.
9. Ditch table salt
Replace with sea salt instead but still keep that in moderation. Sea salt is a natural form of salt and when used in small amounts is something our bodies have adapted to eat and digest over the years. If you are looking for a suggestion, Maldon sea salt is definitely an excellent product to check out. Limit takeaways as they are high in table salt sodium which attracts water retention.
10. Vitamin C
Research shows that those with high levels of Vitamin C burn 30% more fat when they exercise. Because vitamin C is water soluble, your body gets rid of the excess which makes the possibility of overdosing unlikely. Berries, kiwi and grapefruit are excellent examples of high and natural source of vitamin C. However be aware that certain foods with high vitamin C content are more prone to cause gas; not exactly what you want when you try to combat bloating! Such examples are cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli so substituting those foods with other sources of vitamin C may help your cause.
Nicholas Polo, is a fat loss guru and a personal trainer. His specialty is record time fat loss achieved by his 10 Day Fat Loss Transformation programme that’s being followed by people around the world. The programme combines a 10 day low G.I. nutrition plan, 10 minute fat blasting daily workouts and anti-aging supplementation that provide additional nutritional support.
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