When you’re anticipating a trip to the beach or preparing for a black-tie affair, you may change your diet for a day to avoid bloating or inflammation. Many might even opt for a liquid-only meal plan via smoothies and juices. Though this sounds like an excellent tactic in theory, it may backfire on you if you don’t choose the right ingredients for a flat belly. Here, we chatted with nutrition experts to undercover how to make a smoothie for a flat belly that will keep you feeling healthy and toned. And for even more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of the 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make.
One of the main culprits for bloating in smoothies is a protein powder, according to Serena Poon, a celebrity chef and certified nutritionist. That’s why it’s so important to read the fine print of the ingredient list, so you know the source of the protein.
“Whey protein contains lactose, which can cause digestive discomfort in some people,” Poon says.
Additionally, she says some may be sensitive to sugar alcohols, including erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, and maltitol. These are often added to powders to avoid adding calorie-rich sugar but could result in an upset tummy.
If you’re looking for a clean protein powder, check out our list of The Healthiest Protein Powders for Weight Loss.
Most juices and smoothies are sweet, thanks to all of the fruit inside, but savory could actually be more beneficial if you’re seeking a flat stomach. As weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour explains, basil is a member of the mint family, and it helps to reduce gas and bloating, all while promoting anti-inflammatory action. Or, if this herb doesn’t fancy your tastebuds, consider apple cider vinegar, lemon juices, and warming spices, like cayenne. These are deemed detoxifying ingredients, and they have been knowing to decrease your bulge and boost your energy levels, according to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S, author and the founder of Ancient Nutrition.
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Cow’s milk may make your smoothie extra creamy, but it could cause your stomach to go in the opposite direction. As Poon explains, dairy contains lactose, which is difficult for many to digest, resulting in pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Instead, choose coconut, hemp, nut, or oat milk as your smoothie base, which are all lactose-free. Try one of these 7 Best Oat Milk Brands to Buy, According to Nutritionists.
We notice our waistline expand after eating because our body is working overtime to digest our foods. Everyone’s response period is different, and the goal is to choose smoothie ingredients that speed up the process. Poon recommends adding fresh pineapple or papaya to your mix since they contain digestive enzymes to help you digest efficiently.
“Both bromelain and papain—the enzymes found in these fruits—happen to be particularly adept at breaking down proteins,” she explains. “So, they will minimize bloating, too.”
As you whip up your smoothie, pay attention to the consistency: is it chunky or more like a liquid? According to sports dietitian Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, your goal should be the latter, since a smooth smoothie results in a smooth tummy. (Get it?)
“Make sure the smoothie contains enough liquid so you could sip it, not spoon it. The way you ingest the smoothie can also help to prevent bloating as it will leave the stomach more quickly,” she says.
Here are the 14 Best Smoothie Ingredients for a Flat Belly.
Interesting fact: one cause of bloating is an imbalance of sodium. Since most Americans eat more than the recommended daily value of sodium, it is actually a pretty common occurrence, Poon explains. How can you combat this habit? With potassium-rich foods that balance out the sodium and thus, end bloating.
“Plant-based sources of potassium that make great smoothie additions include bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, spinach, kiwi, and coconut water,” Poon says.
One important note, though: potassium-rich foods can only do so much, so it is vital to make sure that you are moderating sodium in other meals throughout the day.
If you tend to be hungry 24/7, a smoothie may feel lackluster and unsatisfying to you. However, Dr. Axe says you can turn that around by choosing the right ingredients to fill you up. He recommends chia seeds since they are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber. In addition to curbing cravings, he says they’re also used to boost energy and exercise performance, which will help you to burn more calories throughout the day.
Even though it’s a natural part of the fruit, fructose can also disrupt digestion, causing bloating. That’s why Poon says to stick to lower-fructose fruits such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, and kiwis to help avoid this discomfort.
“You’ll also want to limit high fructose fruits such as apples, grapes, and pears in your smoothies,” she continues. “Further, it’s a good idea to skip any added sweeteners; even natural sweeteners such as honey and agave are high in fructose.”
Blend up the best smoothie ever from our list of 27 Best Immune-Boosting Smoothie Recipes!