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For many of us, when we think of losing weight, the first body part we think of is our stomach. Many diet and exercise fads make claims that they will “burn belly fat” (or something along those lines) because they know most people are self-conscious about the size of their stomachs.

Stomach Bloating vs. Stomach Fat

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What if I told you that what most people think is “stomach fat” isn’t really fat at all? Because that very well may be the case behind your seemingly large stomach. It is very likely that this is actually being caused by bloating, which can be a build up of air, gases or fluids in the stomach region.

This build up causes the stomach to enlarge in order to make space for this bloating, resulting in a larger appearance. However, just because it is larger does not mean you contain any more fat. In order for you to get rid of this bloating, you must make certain changes to your lifestyle.

The following 5-step test will determine whether you are experiencing bloating or not, and what you can do to get rid of it.

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How Fast Do You Eat?

Scarfing down meals as quickly as possible is a sure way to cause bloating of the stomach. To start off, when you eat quickly your body is not able to send a signal to your brain letting it know that you’re full fast enough. This results in over-eating which can cause bloating simply by having a bunch of undigested food sit in your stomach.

Another reason eating quickly causes bloating is because you are inhaling large amounts of air every time you swallow. This means that you are pumping your stomach full of air as you eat, causing even further bloating. To prevent bloating during eating, simply slow down. Make sure to thoroughly chew your food rather than swallowing it.

How Much Dairy Do You Consume?

Almost all human beings are lactose intolerant to an extent. Although some are more sensitive than others, dairy products have been known to cause digestive issues in most people if heavily consumed. This can include, among other things, bloating. This is due to the fact that our bodies have a hard time digesting lactose, or milk sugar, which results in bloating.

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Try reducing the amount of dairy in your diet (this includes milk, cheese, yogurt etc.) and see if it has an impact on your stomach size.

How Much Salt Do You Eat?

Aside from gas and air, another substance that can cause bloating is water. This build up of water in the stomach can result when one consumes a diet that is high in salt and sodium. High amounts of sodium in the diet can cause water retention in the stomach which can cause bloating caused by fluids.

Try cutting salt out of your diet as a seasoning and reduce the amount of high-sodium foods that you eat.

What Are Your Stress Levels Like?

Although we all know that bloating can cause stress, you may be surprised to hear that stress can cause bloating as well! In fact, the digestive system in general is commonly affected by stress. When stress hormones flood the body many internal changes occur. The body begins to favor processes that deal with stress rather others such as the digestive system.

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Blood flow to the gut, intestinal permeability, mucus production and many other factors are heavily affected during states of stress, which often results in bloating. Try out some stress reducing exercises such as yoga or meditation and see if this has an effect on your stomach bloating.

Are You Intolerant To Gluten?

Although many people feel bloated after eating bread or other wheat-based foods, individuals with an intolerance to gluten, a mixture of proteins found inside wheat, can experience extreme bloating after eating it. People with a gluten intolerance have a hard time digesting gluten, which causes a build up of gas and the resulting bloating.

Try avoiding wheat based foods, such as bread, pasta, cereal etc. and see if this has an impact on your stomach size.

For more information on bloating and what you can do to prevent it, click here.

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