Nutrition, Nutrition

How to beat the bloat

There’s a misconception that bread causes bloat when surprisingly some of the safest food for stomach comfort can be processed foods such as white rice and white bread.

Eating healthy but still feeling bloated? Turns out there are a bunch of factors that might be contributing to that frumpy feeling. We asked Aquanation personal trainer, Byron Manning for his tips to beat the bloat. 

So, what exactly is bloat?

We’ve all been there, eating healthy (or tbh healthy-ish) and our guts just feel that little bit more pronounced. We get it, it’s annoying. To beat the bloat, Manning says it’s important to understand the difference between bloat and distension.

“Bloat is the sensation of increased pressure in your abdomen, like a balloon in your stomach,” says Manning. Alternatively, the personal trainer explains distension is where an increase in abdomen size is perceived.”

So, when it’s not the mirror playing tricks on you (aka distension) and you actually are bloated, consider what you’re putting in your gob and whether it is actually good for your guts.

“Foods that might cause intestinal gas to build up in your stomach are foods that may cause water manipulation where short-chain carbs can bring water into the digestive tract,” Manning advises.

Manning explains these could be Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAP) foods. These include onion, garlic, brussel sprouts and cabbage. The personal trainer describes these foods as “shorter chain carbohydrates that when you eat them they tend to sit in your stomach and be fermented by bacteria that live there and those bacteria give off gases as a biproduct.”

Manning ads that some degree of bloating will always occur as it’s a biproduct of digestion. Nevertheless, it is very individual, and some will be more sensitive than others - especially if you have any underlying clinical conditions warns Manning.

fresh colorful fruits and vegetables fresh healthy breakfast in heart shaped bowl

What foods bring on the bloat?

Manning says there are a few myths that need to get gone when it comes to bloat and avoiding these foods altogether probably won’t reduce bloat.

“There’s a misconception that bread causes bloat when surprisingly some of the safest food for stomach comfort can be processed foods such as white rice and white bread,” advises Manning.

Manning acknowledges there are some common offenders, such as FODMAPs but clinical adverse reactions to food such as intolerances and coeliac disease could actually be the culprit. In this case, Manning recommends seeing a dietitian.

“Manipulating your diet as per a registered dietitian's  instructions might be worth investigating to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs for management of symptoms.”

Above all, Manning says excessive quantities of any one food is not advised and recommends following the Australian Dietary Guidelines as a great basis to make sure you’re getting enough fibre and fluid.

Perhaps it’s not just what you’re putting on your plate

If you want happy guts and your belly to de-bloat, Manning recommends taking a holistic approach and shake off the stress.

The personal trainer advises there’s a lot of research around stress and the gut-brain access and how they influence each other and it comes down to the fight or flight response.“If you’re getting chronic stress through your daily life that could switch that process on a little bit more and influence your digestion in a negative way as it’s not seen as vital to your body while you’re in that state,” explains Manning.

Also, catching up on those zzz’s is extremely important to your overall health and can contribute to your belly not playing ball. “If you’re not sleeping too well, your diet is less likely to be good cause you’re getting some issues with hormone regulation, which means you might be reaching for the wrong types of food,” warns the personal trainer.


Activate your guts

No, we’re not talking activated almonds. Getting active is also another way to get things moving in the right direction. Manning explains the more physically active you are increases gas mobility than if you were sitting.

If you’re feeling bloated and still want to exercise, Manning advises “lower-intensity exercise would be best for helping with that fight or flight response where blood moves away from the gut in that situation.”

Moving away from higher intensity exercise is Manning’s top tip for activating your guts through physical exercise and recommends opting for exercise like a walk or yoga to help with the gas transit and you won’t disturb your tummy too much.


Byron Manning is a personal trainer at Aquanation with a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science at Deakin University and is currently undertaking a Masters of Dietetics at Deakin University. Learn more.