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Your 48-Hour Guide to a Flatter Belly

  • Taylor Walker-Sinning

    Are You Ready to Reset Your Gut?

    Stressing after a week of overindulgence? Studies have shown that stress can lead to bloating all by itself, and bloating and weight gain can be directly related to mild depression. And since the gut is essentially the powerhouse of the body, having an unhealthy gut for long periods of time can lead to problems like diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and chronic fatigue.

    You don't want any of those problems, but if you've been having a fun-filled summer fueled by cocktails, BBQs, and sunshine, you may be ready for a reset. No, you shouldn't stop doing those things altogether (life has to be worth living, amiright?), but you can cut the bloat and feel more comfortable in your own skin within 48 hours—it'll just take a little work. Here's how.

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    Day 1, Morning: H2O to the Rescue

    Water, water, and more water should be the name of the game. Add lemon, cucumber, or fruit if that's what you like and chug away. You and your belly will be much happier! It'll not only help your organs run efficiently, but it'll also keep your GI tract from getting backed up by helping move fat and fiber along.

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    Day 1, Midday: Have a Meal Plan

    If you have a very busy schedule (um, who doesn't?), consider a healthy meal or cooking service like Sun Basket, Blue Apron, or Hello Fresh. You can simply follow the recipe and use pre-portioned ingredients to limit the chances of overeating. For the remaining nights of the week (the above-mentioned services typically only offer about three meals per week), whip up a lean protein with veggies and a dense carb like a white, orange, or yellow sweet potato. Remember, the right carbs are very important for sustaining energy. Try these recipes for breakfastlunch, and dinner.

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    Day 1, Afternoon: Amp Up Your Fruits, Cut Refined Sugar

    Think antioxidant-rich berries or basic fruit like apples, as they'll satisfy your sweet tooth and keep sugar cravings at bay. Feel free to add a healthy fat like almond butter or avocado to keep your energy up in between meals. Cut out refined sugar and all "sugar-free" foods, as they actually force your body to retain water. When you consume sugar-free, chemically processed foods, your body triggers a rush of H2O to your intestines to clear gases and excrete any remnants of your meal. So cutting it out from the get-go will help decrease gut yeast (candida) and yield a happier, flatter tummy.

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    Day 2, Morning: Drink Tea

    Tea has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal purposes, and you can beat bloat with natural teas from your local market in no time. Try not to rely on harsh stimulant teas—easy combinations of warm herbal tea can soothe an inflamed belly and help rev metabolism. Try steeping one peppermint and one chamomile tea bag in hot water for 15 minutes. Or open a can of ginger ale and let it sit until it turns flat (no bubbles, please). Warm it up and steep a black tea bag in the ginger ale for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking.

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    Day 2, Midday: Add Probiotics

    Probiotics are the "friendly bacteria" found in your intestinal tract that shield your body from the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation, gas, and bloating. Taking a probiotic can help keep you regular, especially while traveling. Just make sure there are over 7 billion organisms and that it says on the package that the probiotic can make its way through bile or stomach acid (that way it actually make it to your intestines). If you have allergies, read the package carefully, as some supplements are encased in a substance that could irritate your gut.

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    Day 2, Evening: Choose Your Veggies Wisely

    If you want to limit bloat, then stay away from dark leafy greens like kale, or seriously up the water intake. Although leafy greens are full of health benefits, they could aid in ballooning the belly. Increasing your water intake can help eliminate fibrous waste and keep your tummy flat.