Saturday, March 17, 2012
Biggest Bloat Foods
You work hard to look good, we all know that. You're in the gym 5 days a week, you try to watch what you eat, and so far you've been having a lot of success on your fitness journey. And like everyone else, you're human, and every now and then you decide to skip on the diet and consume a food you love. Why is it that every time you do so, you wake up the next morning, look in the mirror, and look like you've gained a solid 5 pounds of fat? I'll let you in on a little secret. You probably haven't gained an ounce of actual fat, it's just that particular food you ate playing tricks on you. So don't despair, just know the facts.
It's called bloating, and it's not a fun sight. No, it's not dangerous, but it can really cause someone to become very falsely upset about their weight or appearance. It happens when your body suddenly decides to retain water, or produce internal gas based on a food you may have consumed. Certain foods (and their respective ingredients) can produce some pretty impressive bloats, so it's always good to know what caused this rapid degradation of appearance. Let's go over the list of some of the types of food that will cause you to blow up like a balloon, guaranteed:
Food High In Sodium: This one's the most common of all bloating situations; you decided to splurge, had a bit of a really salty piece of steak, or a few too many potato chips, or decided to go all out on salting that corn cob last night. Excess sodium will cause your body to retain water in all sorts of places, because water is attracted to sodium. It's not uncommon to put on a pound or two of water weight after an extremely salty meal, even if it did happen to be low calorie. If you don't want to blow up like a beluga whale, try to skip the salt, and watch the sodium content on nutrition labels. If you do accidentally go a little salt crazy, don't fret, just drink a lot of water and your system will eventually cycle all that excess water weight right back out.
High Carbohydrate Foods: Your body uses carbohydrates as a very efficient energy source by storing carbs as an accessible fuel called glycogen in your liver and muscles. When 1 gram of glycogen is stored as energy, about 3 grams of water is stored with it. This means that if you've been quite glycogen depleted (working very hard in the gym, or have been on a low carb diet), and you replenish your glycogen stores by consuming a good amount of carbohydrates, you can put on a lot of water weight quite quickly, and tend to look pretty bloated, or at least "bigger" for a while. Usually this isn't as bad as sodium bloating, and most muscle heads actually want this "inflated" look as it promotes a healthier, fuller, stronger looking physique. Don't be surprised though if the scale bumps more than it should after that big plate of pasta.
Raw Vegetables: Now don't start worrying, vegetables are still probably the healthiest food you can consume throughout your day. The thing is though, raw veggies have huge amounts of fiber, and can absorb quite a bit of water in your stomach. That means they take up a lot of space, and can cause you to look like a Macy's day parade float. Don't worry, this will pass. Also something to be a little wary of, most fiberous veggies produce a lot of intestinal gas, which, as well as being uncomfortable and...er...embarrassing, can inflate your lower stomach to the point where those tight jeans may not fit anymore. Seriously though, it's a small price to pay for the health benefits in those veggies.
Artificial Sweeteners: I love artificial sweeteners, and I use them on a daily basis. They allow people to stay on a stricter diet more efficiently because they allow someone to have a bit of a sweet tooth without any of the huge sugar consumption. They can, however, cause bloating, because your body can't absorb and digest them. They act like fiber and cause intestinal gas, which, you guessed it, pumps you up to snowman-like sizes. Again though, don't worry too much about it, just know what caused it.
Desserts: There's a whole host of reason that those big, sweet, sugary desserts can cause bloating. They're loaded with all sorts of carbs and sweeteners that both force your body to retain water and cause gas. Also, desserts that contain dairy can be incredibly bloating to those that are lactose intolerant (as will any dairy product.) Let me just say this: you're guaranteed to look like a beach ball after that heaping bowl of ice cream and apple crisp.
Carbonated Drinks: This one's a no brainer. Carbonated drinks contain little bubbles of carbon dioxide, which when consumed escape into your stomach and blow it up like a balloon. This can cause a lot of discomfort. Not to mention, most carbonated drinks are loaded with sugars and other artificial sweeteners, two other super bloat-promoting substances.
Bloating is annoying, that's for sure. Is it dangerous though? Not usually. It also shouldn't be a reason to get depressed about your appearance, because bloating is a temporary state. If you bloat up, just hop back on your diet as soon as possible, keep hitting the gym, drink lots of water, and your body will clear itself out eventually (usually sooner rather than later). And now that you know the top culprits that cause the biggest bloats, you'll be able to figure out what happened next time you look like the Michelin Man in the mirror.
Eat clean, don't stress, and as always, GOOD LUCK!