What Causes Bloating?

Bloating 101

So you’re going through your healthy, fitness conscious checklist: you’ve been sticking to your regimen with a workout plan that combines resistance training, toning and cardiovascular exercise; you’ve lost weight as planned and your abs are showing through – even the scales and before and afters photos agree. So why, if you’re being so well behaved and healthy, do you look so bloated?


A healthy heart, better stamina and an improved metabolism are what it’s all about, but when you’re bloated, it can lead you to falsely think all that work isn’t paying off. Bloating can feel as uncomfortable, sometimes combined with gas, and can inhibit your physical performance, making you feel slow, sluggish and less dexterous than usual. Whatever it is about bloating that bothers you, what does it mean, and how can you stop it if it’s bothering you.

sophiearis how to avoid bloating

Air is one of the main reasons your belly may look like a beach ball all of a sudden (despite all the sit-ups you’ve been doing). You may well be reading this wondering when all that air got into your stomach, and the answer is likely that you’ve swallowed it. It’s not like you’ve been going about your business like a goldfish swallowing air as you go, so where could it have come from?


Two of the most common culprits are ones you likely haven’t realised. If you’re an avid gum chewer or sweet eater when you chew it creates the illusion that you are eating and so you swallow and digest though there are no actual solids passing through your system. You are, however, probably swallowing a lot of air with each gulp.


The other culprit is equally harmless on the surface, but whenever you drink through a straw you will be filling your boots with air as you suck up the liquid.

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On a diet? The next common issue is that if you’re not eating consistently then a big meal will be a lot of work for your system to digest, meaning it will go slow. An answer to that is to eat regularly rather than binging. Further to this, if you’ve been replacing sugars for sweeteners and other products for low-calorie versions then there’ll be more artificial foods that don’t digest easily and tend to stay in your stomach for longer than their natural equivalents.


Sodium is a major cause of bloating. It is recommended that you consume under 2,300 mg. Processed food is high in sodium as are sandwiches, so if you’re living a busy lifestyle and always on the go and a sandwich or quick microwave meal seems a decent solution, all that sodium says otherwise when your belly starts to bloat. An answer is to break the habit once in a while and find bread substitutes and throw some lettuce into the mix.


It’s not just the unhealthy junk food that’s an issue, though, you know by now what beans do to you. They’re definitely a positive addition to any diet, but for all their good nutrition and fibre they contain carbs that aren’t easily digested.


Eating too much before heading to bed is another one to be conscious of. Lying down impairs your digestion, that’s why many good folk tend to take a stroll to assist digestion after a heavy meal. But if you eat a lot before bed, you won’t be breaking it down as quickly as you would in the waking eyes. So if you did a mega workout the day before, come the morning you might be wondering why your belly’s looking so puffy.


Allergies. This one is last but definitely not least. When was the last time you were tested for wheat and dairy allergies? Not all allergies are as serious as they can be from peanuts and bee stings. Often, if you’re not eating something as part of your regular diet or you develop an intolerance, your digestive system can’t handle it as you’d like, resulting in anything from bloating, cramps, and gas to diarrhoea.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Claire Muszalski

Claire Muszalski

Registered Dietitian

Claire is a Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.

Talking and writing about food and fitness is at the heart of Claire’s ethos as she loves to use her experience to help others meet their health and wellness goals.

Claire is also a certified indoor cycling instructor and loves the mental and physical boost she gets from regular runs and yoga classes. When she’s not keeping fit herself, she’s cheering on her hometown’s sports teams in Pittsburgh, or cooking for her family in the kitchen.

Find out more about Claire’s experience here.

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