We’ve all been there—you’re a day out from a trip to the beach and you feel completely bloated. WHY, WHY, WHY? (Answer: Life is unfair.)
The good news? One day is enough to get your belly back to its usual state. By nixing certain foods, noshing on others, and taking a few other smart steps, it is possible to de-bloat fast—zero water pills required. Just use caution: You don’t want to be in de-bloat mode all of the time. Otherwise you may dehydrate yourself and put yourself at risk of fainting or of dealing with kidney stones down the line, says naturopathic doctor JoAnn Yanez, N.D., Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.
If you’re looking for a longer-term water-weight fix, Yanez suggests seeing a naturopathic doc or allergy specialist, since food allergies can often lead to inflammation, indigestion, and bloating. In the meantime, here’s a step-by-step, 24-hour guide to de-bloating.
7 A.M.—Down A Big Glass Of Cucumber Water
While it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, drinking more water can make you less bloated. “The more water you drink, the more you’re flushing out stored water and stored salt, which are causing you to feel bloated,” says nutritionist Christy Brissette, R.D., of 80 Twenty Nutrition. “And it helps to get rid of waste in your digestive tract and keeps you regular, so you’ll end up with flatter stomach.”
If you don’t drink enough you’ll actually end up feeling even more bloated, because your body holds onto the little bit you do drink, explains Revée (Ray) Barbour, N.D., a naturopathic doctor in Sacramento, CA.
Yanez and Barbour both recommend sipping on cucumber-lemon water, since both ingredients encourage your body to release water. Bonus: Cucumber can be soothing for your gut, says Barbour. Add your cucumber and lemon slices to a pitcher of water the night before, so the flavors can diffuse.
What not to drink: carbonated beverages. (The bubbles can add to that bloated belly feeling.) And avoid sipping through a straw, which can make you take in extra gas, Brisette says. Simply aim for 12 cups of water throughout the day before your event. The good news? Coffee and tea count!
7:30 A.M.—Hit The Treadmill Or A Hot Yoga Class
Barbour suggest avoiding eating immediately upon waking up. “If you go an extra hour or two before you eat, you increase your fasting time, which increases your levels of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full,” she says. As long as you’re used to working out without food in your stomach, a quick sweat session gets your heart pumping, revs your metabolism, and allows you to perspire out excess water and sodium before you start your day.
Related: 5 Myths About Your Metabolism
Barbour recommends going for a quick run, brisk walk, or doing your favorite form of cardio. If you’re already a yogi, a hot yoga session can get your heart rate up and bring on the sweat—plus specific yoga poses (especially twists) can help keep things moving along through your digestive system, she says. Whatever morning workout you choose, make sure to bring a big bottle full of water with you and sip frequently so you don’t end up retaining water or feeling faint after sweating it up.
The workout you don’t want to do: weight-lifting, which—because it can build up lactic acid and cause you to draw water into your muscles—might leave you looking even puffier.
8:30 A.M.—Have A Smoothie For Breakfast
Our gut is made up of billions of bacteria, both good and bad, says Yanez. Having healthy good bacteria helps keep the bad ones—which can cause gas, constipation, and stomach upset—in check. So eating foods that contain probiotics (which are filled with good bacteria) can promote a healthy gut and help keep gas at bay, she says.
Add plain Greek yogurt to a morning smoothie to reap the probiotic benefits, suggests Brisette. Just stay away from brands with added or artificial sugars, which can cause stomach issues and contribute to bloating.
To get even more de-puff bang for your buck, add fresh-cut fruit, like pineapple or papaya, to your blend. These two fruits contain natural digestive enzymes called bromelain and papain, which help you break down protein for easier digestion, Brisette says. Plus, they also provide potassium, an electrolyte that helps maintain the fluid balance in your body and flushes out excess water and sodium, she explains.
10:30 A.M.—Snack On Watermelon
Giant meals can be hard on your digestive system, so opt for five to six smaller meals throughout your de-bloat day. “We’ve all seen what happens after Thanksgiving, when a food baby appears,” Brisette says.
Switch up your snack game and make sure to avoid energy, fiber, or protein bars that contain any ingredients ending in “-ol” (like sugar alcohols sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol). “They’re designed so our bodies can’t digest all the calories,” says Brisette. And since we can’t fully digest them, they hang out in our gut and lead to gas.
Instead, snack on fresh fruit, which contains water to hydrate you, along with more de-bloating potassium and fiber to keep things moving through your digestive tract. Chomp on some juicy watermelon, a high-water, low-calorie, low-carb fruit that also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may help your body tackle swelling, says Barbour.
12:30 P.M.—Eat Grilled Chicken With A Side Of Tabbouleh Salad For Lunch
All day, you’ll be banning salty, processed, and greasy foods like burgers, chips and fries, which can upset your stomach and make you hold onto extra water (mostly because of their sodium content, according to Yanez). By making your meals at home today, you can replace salt with other herbs and spices for flavor, adds Brisette.
Grilled chicken is a lean and filling source of protein that’ll keep you nourished and satisfied. Pair it with a tabbouleh salad—a favorite of Yanez’s—for some extra de-puffing action. Tabbouleh salad usually includes tomatoes, parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion. Parsley, in particular, contains potassium and encourages your body to release water, says Yanez.
1:00 P.M.—Gargle With Mouthwash
If you normally chew gum and want that fresh feeling on the run, rinse with mouthwash instead today. Sugar-free gum contains those bloat-causing sugar alcohols, and the act of chewing makes you swallow extra air, adding even more bloat, says Brisette.
2:00 P.M.—Sip On A Glass Of Dandelion Tea
Swap your afternoon coffee for a tea that contains dandelion, hibiscus, burdock root, and/or lemon, recommends Barbour. Not only do you avoid caffeine that might keep you awake later, but these other herbal ingredients can help your body get rid of excess water.
3:00 P.M.—Cut Cravings With Celery And Peanut Butter
When those mid-afternoon munchies hit, stay away from packaged snacks and opt for a simple, wholesome alternative. Pair celery—another one of those high-water foods—with a tablespoon of nut butter, suggests Yanez. The fat and protein in the PB will hold you over until your next meal.
5:00 P.M.—Skip The After-Work Happy Hour
They don’t call it a “beer belly” for no reason! All alcohol tends to cause bloat, but drinks with bubbles do extra damage, Yanez says. Also, alcohol makes you all-the-more likely to reach for salty, high-calorie, puff-inducing foods. Not to mention, it totally wrecks your sleep.
6:00 P.M.—Take A Bath With Epsom Salt
“Epsom salt is great for detoxifying the body and soothing joints,” says Barbour. While it’s not necessarily de-bloating, an Epsom salt bath can support the body’s response to inflammation and help it manage swelling, she says. Choose a bath salt that contains magnesium chloride (the mineral at work here) and pour three to four cups into a warm bath. Barbour recommends soaking for 20 to 40 minutes.
If you have any chronic conditions or health concerns (like low blood pressure), talk to your doctor before bathing in Epsom salts, says Barbour. And make sure to drink a big glass of water after your soak to stay hydrated.
7:30 P.M.—Fill Up On Salmon, Mesclun Salad, And Asparagus For Dinner
For every gram of glycogen (energy from carbs) your body stores, you retain up to three or four grams of water, says Brisette. This is why people on low-carb diets tend to lose a couple pounds of water weight in the first few days—and why all of our experts suggested scaling back on carbs in their de-bloating efforts
Like your lunch, your de-puff dinner focuses on protein and veggies. Breads, pastas, and white rice won’t help you in your mission. (Note: Many people feel exhausted on long-term low-carb diets, so Brisette doesn’t recommend them.)
You’ll also want to avoid gas-promoting cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, which are tougher to digest. Beans can also lead to some extra gas, especially if you don’t eat them regularly, Brisette says.
Related: 7 Foods That Can Make You Gassy
Instead, fill up on a big mesclun greens salad topped with high-water produce like tomatoes and cucumbers. Toss your salad in a quick combo of lemon juice and olive oil and serve with baked salmon, or your favorite protein source. You can also include a side of asparagus, which contains an amino acid, asparagine, that (you guessed it) supports the body’s release of water, says Barbour.
8:30 P.M.—Relax With A Cup Of Ginger Tea
Ginger is an anti-spasmodic, meaning it helps to soothe your digestive system, which is good news for eliminating gas, says Brisette. Sipping on ginger tea, especially after a meal, can support smooth digestion. Then, hit the hay so you’re well-rested!
Related: Find an herbal tea for every need.
Pin this infographic to put this de-bloat plan to use in a pinch: