Live Fit: This is my journey »

Reducing Bloat

It seems like prior to this fitness journey, I had been plagued with constant stomach issues including aches, pains, and most of all a TON of bloating.  I hated that when I woke up in the  morning, my tummy was fairly flat (flat for me at that time anyways) and I felt good.  However, by the time lunch came and went each day, my stomach was literally twice the size and I just felt gross… and forget about after dinner, that was even worse.  All I wanted to do was put on big comfy sweats, grab my heat pad, and lay down in bed.  This was actually part of the reason why I had decided to get serious about my health and figure out what could be causing all of my discomfort.  Doctors were not help to me at all.  They would run some tests, do some blood work, go over a bunch of lame scenarios and basically send me on my way saying “Gosh, I have no idea what could be causing your issues. Call me again in a few weeks and let’s see if you are still having the same problems.”

Gee, thanks for your help doc.

Obviously, I had to find my own answers at that point.  I think there is an actual test to find out if you are truly lactose intolerant but apparently my expensive insurance didn’t want to spring for it.  Nice huh?  Instead, I was sent on my way and told to do a process of elimination on my own.

First step for me was looking at the times of day I felt the most pain and bloating.  Typically, it was mainly after working out/having my post workout meal or at dinner time if my family went out to eat.  So for a few weeks, I played with what I was eating and had a few different foods for lunch each day.  Still no change though.  I was always guaranteed a stomach ache during those times.  Then I had a “A HA” moment….

Post workout I ALWAYS had a protein shake regardless of what I was going to eat for lunch.

Ding, ding, ding!!!!!

Why hadn’t I thought of that before?  What an idiot I was!  Post workout shakes were always whey isolate or whey concentrate.  I was supplementing protein with one shake just about EVERY singe day at this point in my journey AND it was normally just a cheap whey.

Literally, within 48 hours of changing my protein powder and switching to a high quality whey & casein blend, I felt about 98% better.  No pain and hugely reduced bloating.  After a week, things were even better!  The ONLY protein I use now is from PEScience.  HIGH quality products!

A- freaking MEN!   One problem solved.

From that point on, I completely cut down on my quick and easy whey only protein replacement shakes and protein bars that contained whey only.  However, I do need to note that each brand/type of protein effect me differently AND I can tolerate some brands much better than others.  I still continue to use powders but I tend to have very small amounts of it… maybe 1/2 scoop per day and never have a problem.  I also find that the mixed protein blends (whey, casein, and/or egg), are much easier for my stomach to digest.  From what I have learned, some people can actually tolerate whey and not casein or vice versa.  Whey concentrate and whey isolate proteins also effect me differently… whey concentrate will immediately cause stomach pain and bloating for me and whey isolate I can tolerate in VERY small amounts.

Last game changer for me was artificial sweeteners, specifically SPLENDA.  Now it makes total sense why I always had stomach issues when my family went out to dinner.  I used to always order and iced tea and mix it with a packet of Splenda and was guaranteed to be in pain when we left the restaurant.  I think it’s also a big reason why my body hates most protein bars and various supplements on the market!  Literally, this is probably the BIGGEST trigger for any and ALL of my stomach issues!  I can’t tolerate most protein bars, frozen yogurt, “sugar free” products, etc.

So, now that I found what was causing the majority of my bloating and stomach issues, it was time to fine tune things and get me 100%!  These are the things that have helped tremendously and I no longer have the same issues:

  • I drink a TON of water all day long.  This was extremely hard for me because prior to that point.  I could probably drink less than 8 ounces a day and not feel thirsty or crave any liquid.  My body felt like crap, but I wasn’t thirsty.  After some research, I learned that if f you deprive your body of the water it needs, the little bit you do have during the day your body will force itself to retain resulting in that puffy feeling.  Once you get enough water in your system each day, your body will begin to shed it and you will lose some of that extra water weight/bloating.  This was HUGE for me.  Now, I try to get at least a gallon and a half in each day.  The single item that has helped me push the H2O in my body has been this little miracle.

CORINANIELSEN-COCONUTSTEVIA

COCONUT STEVIA

7-8 drops per 8 ounces of water is simply perfect!  Because I work from home, it’s easy for me to keep refilling cups/water bottles but I would 100% prep a gallon each night and take it to work the next day if I had to.  It’s SO good!  I buy mine at Sprouts or Whole Foods but its also available online.  The drops actually come in quite a few flavors and I recommend ALL of them.  The fruit ones are perfect for water and the more savory/richer flavors work great in coffee or even baking.  Coconut is just my favorite to hydrate with.  Please see my article on “Ways to Stay Hydrated” for more ideas!

  • I also started taking Probiotics which have helped tremendously.  Little did I know how much they would help me as much as they have.  For fairly large meals (mainly breakfast and dinner), I try to remember to take one of these guys before I take my first bite of food.

Benefits of probiotics include improved intestinal function and digestion, improved immune system, can greatly help in many cases or gastrointestinal disorders and other digestive issues, said to aid with allergies, urinary health, women’s health, and obesity.

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I typically take 1-2 of these before/during my bigger meals.  There are a ton of different kinds/brands of Probiotics out there.  I buy these locally at GNC because it’s easy and convenient for me, but I know Sprouts, Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, Target, Walmart, etc. all carry a variety as well.  One thing to keep in mind is that most ProBiotics need to be kept refrigerated which can pose a little bit of a problem when and if you eat out… sometimes if I remember, I will put a few in a baggie when we leave the house to go eat, but most of the time I forget.  Rest assured though…. I always have back ups in my purse!!!!   These are a GREAT option and I am always armed with them!  2 of these little chews and I’m good to go for my meal!  I actually prefer these to the pills but for cost effectiveness I only use them on the go!

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  • Another contributing factor to my tummy issues was fiber intake.  Once I started tracking my food & macros in My Fitness Pal, I could see how much fiber I was actually getting each day.  For a few weeks while I was figuring out my issues, I kept a little log of how I was feeling and when my stomach would get upset.  As I looked back at previous logged days, I cross referenced my fiber intake and saw that EVERY time I was over 50 grams of fiber OR severely under, I had some pain and bloating.  Days I had over 55-60 grams, I could barely move because my stomach hurt so bad.  Techincally, I think I should be aiming for around 25 and as long as I am under 35 grams, I have no issues.
  • Every now and then, I also like to drink Apple Cider Vinegar.  This is rumored to have lots of benefits including healthy digestion, kills bacteria, lowers blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, etc.  It’s very very strong, but I’m a fan of it!

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And the last few things that may or may not help you, but are good to know:

  • Be aware of certain vegetables that your body may be more sensitive to such as broccoli, beans, brussel sprouts,  cauliflower, etc.
  • Keep a VARIETY of foods in your diet if you plan on eating these things in the LONG TERM.  One of the biggest mistakes I see people making along their journey is cutting out a bunch of different foods, food groups, and sodium.  Once you do this for an extended period of time, your body gets used to it so when you introduce things back in, your body has no idea what to do with itself.  Typically, your tummy will get so confused and simply fight back trying to process all of it.  I really try to keep a variety of foods in my daily diet and don’t pay too much attention to my sodium intake.  Things are pretty constant for me.

This probably isn’t the best set of iphone pictures but I wanted to show what my morning & night time belly look like.  Granted, the first one was post breakfast before I was getting ready to work out & taken in my garage while the second one was taken post 2200 calories, 300 grams of carbs, and over a gallon of water taken in my downstairs bathroom.  Probably would have been more effective to show the same clothes, same location, etc. but I think it still illustrates my point!

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I actually think I look more lean at night in this example… feels good to be bloat free now!

Most important thing to remember ALWAYS?  Pay attention to your body!!!!  If something doesn’t feel right, do not ignore it.  Immediately narrow it down and get to the bottom of it from the start!  It’s so much easier to determine what the triggers are as soon as you feel different or feel any discomfort.  You will be so much happier figuring things out immediately than waiting for a sign that most likely will never come!

  • Milissa - This is awesome Corina. I love the flow of your content. Thanks. I’m know for certain that I’m L.I. and we only drink skim Lactaid milk and I even use it in my baking recipes! I found for me that cutting out all refined sugar totally helped me. I can’t have a shake or high lactose treat to save my life anyway, without getting sick 30 minutes later (unless I make it myself) so it’s easy to stay away. I now have times of the day where I make myself drink more water with my supplements. Way better for my nighttime! For a while there, each night I was looking 5 months preggers and not feeling good. 😉 xoxReplyCancel

    • corina - Milissa, we just picked up some lactaid milk yesterday and Im totally scared to try it lol. Does it taste like regular milk? I really do miss my Costco milk now 🙁 But the trade off for me is well worth it. Definitely not worth feeling like crap for hours afterwards. You are right, literally within 20-30 minutes, my tummy will start hurting if we eat out and Im not careful about what I order… sometimes it really stinks being “in tune” with your body because you always feel things FASTER and more drastic I think lol. And yup… I know that 5 month preggo feeling ALL too well! XO lovely lady!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - I relate to this post so much – been battling the bloat for a couple of years now and it’s been so frustrating. I found the same thing with whey protein and now use a plant-based occasionally, certainly not everyday. I’ve cut dairy significantly and it’s made a big difference. Gluten has a huge effect on me as well, so Ezekiel is my new best friend (which I know you’re a fan of, too). Thanks for posting this – love the probiotics tip!ReplyCancel

    • corina - It’s horrible isn’t? I used to tell my husband I felt bloated and he had no clue what that even meant. Sometimes I wish I were a man lol. And yes, Ezekiel is good stuff! I love all of their products. Now that I’m eating almost 3 times the amount of carbs VS protein, I have at least 2 sandwiches are day now. I used to think getting enough was difficult but carbs and fat are killing me! Thanks for the visit & support Heather, I appreciate it a lot!ReplyCancel

  • Traci - Hey, just found your blog via Instagram.

    There are some vegan protein powders put there. I use RAW brand, it’s a little chalky but its all plant based. Sometimes you need something easy for on the go…at least I do.ReplyCancel

    • corina - I have Plant Fusion for an option but really don’t use any powders anymore at all! Thanks for your suggestion!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Hello! I just stumbled onto your website and let me tell you…this is absolute PERFECT timing! I’ve been struggling with losing weight and I had been told multiple times that it was because my caloric intake was way too low. But I could not reason myself into eating more (because it’s so counter-intuitive). Your journey is a great example of how eating more can help you lose more too. I have a question, not sure where to find it on your site…what is your height?ReplyCancel

    • corina - HI Stephanie! I am 5′ tall 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Thank you sooo much Corina! Love your site and your advice <3 Def my #1 favorite fitness motivational/advice site I have come across to date!ReplyCancel

  • Katie - I have been trying to figure out my stomach issues now. I can’t go to the bathroom consistently, ugh! Slowly cutting dairy and watching my fiber. I eat healthy and workout 5 times a week. Just started probiotics do you take an enzyme as well? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • corina - Hi Katie! Yes, I take a probiotic with my bigger meals (breakfast and dinner)!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I am loving your blog! It feels so good to know that other people are experiencing the same thing that I am and that there is hope! Thank you for all the tips.ReplyCancel

  • Dianne - This was very informative. It is so good to know there are others who have experienced the same problems. It would be a miracle if I could have a healthy digestive system without bloating, constipation and be able to lose weight. I would be willing to do just about anything to feel better.ReplyCancel

  • hillary - Is there a supplement you can take daily to help reduce bloating? Milk bothers me also but I’m not real crazy ab it so i don’t drink it a lot. But I find breads make me feel AWFUL after I eat it. Would the probiotics help with that? Do you take them before every meal or just when you know when your going to be eating alot? I’ve just started the IIFYM journey so I’m new and still researching and figuring things out! Any tips and advice!? Your blog has already helped a lot!!!ReplyCancel

    • corina - HI Hillary Everything I do to reduce bloating is in this post 🙂 I don’t take anything additional. Just changed a few things and added the probioitc. I take that in the morning with breakfast sometimes and always for dinner since thats usually a bigger meal for me! Unless you have been tested for an allergy and are intolerant to certain foods, there would be no reason to cut anything out!ReplyCancel

  • Jocelyn - FYI
    Thought you might find this article interesting.
    PatriciaReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Thanks to Pinterest, I found this article. I am 17 years old, reasonably fit, eat mostly healthy, and have struggled with really bad bloating/digestion since I was 8. It gets soo frustrating.

    Starting today, I’m going to go dairy-free. I’ve been wheat free for over a week, and it’s helped my digestion a little, but I’m still bloated 24/7. I never would have thought about being dairy-sensitive, but it makes sense! Thank you so much! I think I found the answer!

    I love your blog, by the way! Will definitely be visiting it more often 🙂

    *clinks coffee mug to yours*ReplyCancel

  • Janet - OHMYGOODNESS, Corina, you are an answer to my prayers!!! I have really been researching and educating myself as much as possible lately in order to break through to a higher level of fitness. I am very close to your size at 5’2″ and 105 lbs. I have never had a weight problem, but I do work out 5-6 days a week and can’t ever seem to shed to a level of fat I would like. I am about 21% BF and really want to be down about 18. I have been that before, but not in a while. I am definitely older than you, but have recently gotten back into the weight room on a good lifting plan that I have seen some good results with over the past 4 weeks. I have, however, NEVER been good about eating right and your information here has helped me tremendously! I need to eat more and I am working on that. I have significant bloating as the day goes on and am wondering if the pre and post workout protein I’m taking is a factor. I will definitely look into that! Thanks for helping me SEE what more calories and more carbs can actually do for me. I’m so excited and have read your entire website today (geez, it took a while but I couldn’t stop!).ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Hi Corina!

    I had a rough 7 years as well with 2 kids destroying my body. I had 2 C-Sections back to back. They are 11.5 months apart :D. Great to have them close, but my body didn’t agree. I went from 140 pounds all the way up to 248 pounds from the first pregnancy to the delivery of my second child. I had a decent skin overhang above the scar and my abs were shot. So March 2013 I decided on having a panniculectomy with abdominal plasty (tummy tuck). Man my abs feel great now that they are in place where they should be. Downfall is, now I have a muffin top, just on the obliques the front never changes (positive to the surgery). I am trying to lose it before our cruise in April 2015. So I went on an extremely strict diet for 2 week this past July/August, looking for trimming results. I was working out 3 times a day between cardio and a P90X type program called FitStar on my iPad (seriously awesome). I cut most of the carbs out of my diet and was taking a GNC Lean 25 protein drink in the morning post work out. I was eating healthy and everything, to include using Almond milk, sweetened :\ I did cardio in the morning, Fit Star at lunch, and played 2-3 hours of volleyball in the evening. I GAINED 4lbs! I fell off the bandwagon after 10 days of dedication due to disappointment. Turns out low carb diet for me was not working with the amount of exercise I was doing, it was stopping me up! I fell off hard after that and those extra 4 pounds left too. Super disappointed. I know that things don’t happen overnight. But I was hoping to see through all the effort that there was a chance of losing at least 2 pounds over the 10 days. This blog is giving me a newfound hope. I am going to try and cut most if not all dairy out of my life and maybe go gluten free too. I hope that this bloating bit goes with it! Good luck on life and thank you for putting up this blog! So sorry for being long winded.
    ?
    EmilyReplyCancel

  • Patricia - I’m so glad I found your blog 🙂

    I wonder if you eat lactose free cheese or if that affects you ? I’m trying to fix my GI / irregularity / bloating issues !

    Thanks
    PatriciaReplyCancel

    • corina - Ice cream is the only thing that truly truly hurts my stomach no matter what… for everything else, I just take a lactose pill prior and I’m good to go!ReplyCancel

  • Johanna - Hi i just came across you website and i worry that the protein whey isolate powder i just bought bloats me! theres no pain, and i don’t know if the ‘bigger’ feeling will subside over time, but do you recommend any specific whey protein that doesn’t bloat or a vegan version i heard does the trick? thanks for your help!ReplyCancel

    • corina - PEScience is the only protein powder I use now! It’s a blend of whey and casein so it works great for my stomach! I have never had any issues with it and its absolutely delicious!!! I actually have a 30% off code available also AND the company offers a 7 serving size which is perfect for those who need to test the product out first!!!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - Wondering what does ur daily meal plan look like? What do u eat in a day and when do u eat it?ReplyCancel

  • kathy - I am so glad I found this. 60 y/o post menopausal lap swimmer. Eating balanced diet limited carbs and rare gluten STILL BLOATED. Funny or not, when I pack for a trip (Vegas baby!)I try what I want to wear on in the am…when tummy is flat. Then I get to vegas or wherever and the evening comes and after a few drinks and a light lunch…I NEED A FREAKIN’ CAPE!!! So started packing bigger tops and that does not make me happy. i will try your advice!ReplyCancel

  • Ellen - I was looking into the PEScience protein powder, but it has sucralose (Splenda). So I’m a little confused since you said articial sweeteners bothered you. Are you still using the PEScience?ReplyCancel

    • corina - Splenda in greater quantities hurt my stomach so I wouldn’t be able to use a packet of splenda in a small drink 🙂 I also can’t do frozen yogurt. When I use my PEScience protein, I only use about 1/2 scoop at a time. Never have a problem with it 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Nikki Fahey - What is a low quality protein ? I use Cellucor and PES?
    thanks
    nikkiReplyCancel

    • corina - I would consider any protein thats a whey concentrate lower quality! Cellucor products hurt my stomach though also. PEScience is awesome. Thats all I use!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - What do you mix your powder with? Milk? Skim? Water?
    I’ve been using my husband’s Bodylogix and I feel awful.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - Hi!

    I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out how many calories to eat and how much protein to consume. I was suggested to eat 1000 calories, some of the calories being two protein shakes for a total of 50 grams of protein. I’m 5’3 and 115 lbs. I know this is a little off topic, but I cannot seem to get it right! I’m looking to have lean muscle mass. Thank you 🙂ReplyCancel

    • corina - in order to build lean muscle mass, you must be eating enough to support that. Take a look at a few online calculators to see where your macros should be for your goals!ReplyCancel

  • Deepti - Thank you so much for sharing so helpful best to youReplyCancel

  • Deepti - Hey Iam 5″3 and 160 lbs and want to lose weight and build lean muscle and currently on my fitness pal im at 150/60/40’gms for carb/protein/fat as macros for 1200 calories so 50/30/20 % what would you recommend could you help give me an idea thank you so muchReplyCancel

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