Only a genie in a bottle could give you a flat stomach in three days. If genies existed. Since they don't, here's the straight truth: short of surgery or dangerous pills or cleanses, there simply is no fast fix for excess belly flab.
With a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can expect to safely shed 1 to 2 pounds of body fat -- some of which will come from from your belly -- per week. Depending on how much you have to lose to achieve a flat stomach, you should expect the weight to come off in several months or even years.
In the short-term, you can take control of one thing that can make even an already flat stomach appear to bulge: bloating. Making a few changes to your diet can make a big difference in belly bloating in just a few days -- no genie required.
Watch What You Eat
Eating too much at one time or eating too quickly can both cause bloating. If you typically wait too long between meals and eat when you're starving, you're likely to eat too much and too quickly. Eating too much causes your belly to become distended because the excess food can't be digested quickly enough. Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow excess air, which leads to the formation of gas in your belly.
Eat smaller meals more frequently: This prevents you from becoming so hungry that you overeat. It also gives your body less to process at one time, so it's easier on your digestive system.
Don't eat in a hurry: Make sure you have enough time to sit down and eat slowly and mindfully. Pay attention to your food as you're eating it, chew it thoroughly, and don't get distracted while eating.
Avoid talking while eating: Although a little casual chit chat during meals is fine, too much talking while eating can cause you to swallow excess air, which leads to bloating.
Avoid Certain Foods
While trying to reduce bloating to achieve the appearance of a flatter tummy, it's best to avoid foods that are known culprits for causing gas and bloating. High-fiber fruits and vegetables, dairy products and whole grains are common gas-producing foods. Examples of these foods include:
- brown rice
- ice cream
Other offenders include prepared foods containing the milk sugar lactose, foods containing sorbitol such as candies and gum, carbonated drinks and alcoholic beverages such as wine and dark beer.
You can try reducing your intake of FODMAPs to prevent bloating. FODMAP stands for "fermentable Oligo-, Di-, mono-saccharides and polyols." These are types of short-chain carbohydrates that some people can't digest, leading to bloating, gas and diarrhea. If you think this might be your problem, reduce your intake of foods containing fructose, such as sweets and fruits; lactose in dairy foods; fructans in gluten grains, such as wheat, spelt, barley and rye; galactans in legumes; and polyols in sugar alcohols used to sweeten foods.
Salty foods such as chips, pretzels and jerky, or over-salting your foods at meals can cause your body to retain water, which can also cause you to feel bloated. This kind of bloating is likely to show up all over your body and not just in your belly, however.
Whether or not these foods cause bloating differs from individual to individual. Through trial and error, you'll find out which foods lead to a bloated belly and which don't. Since many foods that cause bloating are also healthy foods, don't cut them out of your diet for more than a few days -- unless you really need to because you're intolerant.
Choose Healthy Options
To avoid bloating in the short-term, focus on foods that are not known to cause gas. These include:
- meat, poultry and fish
- lower fiber vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and okra
- lower fiber fruits such as melons, grapes, berries, cherries and avocado
- gluten-free bread, rice bread and plain rice
Your Long-Term Plan
Following a short-term diet to reduce bloating is the only way to make your stomach appear flatter in three days. Plan for the future by making a long-term plan including regular exercise and a healthy diet, which will flatten your stomach over time. Then, you won't need quick fixes that may or may not be effective.
Get at least the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Start by walking on your lunch break or in the evenings. Try jogging or riding a stationary bike at the gym. Join a weight training class or take up yoga. Whatever activity you do will help burn belly fat and help you maintain your ideal weight.
However, exercise can't make up for an unhealthy diet. To get a flat stomach, you need to watch what you eat, avoiding too many calories from processed, refined, sugary and fatty foods. Focus your diet around whole foods, including fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meat and poultry and fish. Save sweets for special occasions and cut out sugary beverages all together.