Is it Bloating or Belly Fat?

Woman getting dressed and looking in a mirror

You look down and see a belly bulge you wish you didn’t have. Before you take action to flatten your stomach, you should understand what’s causing that appearance.  

What Is Bloating?

Most people feel bloated now and then. It’s the sensation that your belly is abnormally enlarged or “distended.” It can occur after eating an especially large meal and is a natural body reaction. Your brain signals your diaphragm to move down and your abdominal walls to relax — essentially creating more space for your stomach. 

While overeating is the most common cause of bloat, other causes include:


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How to tell Bloating from Belly Fat?

There are a few ways to distinguish between bloating and belly fat. One is that belly fat doesn’t greatly increase as a result of one meal or even a day’s worth of meals. Bloating, on the other hand, can happen rapidly and resolve just as quickly. 

Another way to tell the difference is that if you can physically grab the bulge you see, it’s belly fat. You can’t grasp your bloated belly. 

Of course, it’s also possible to have both — belly fat that becomes more prominent with bloating.

6 Tips for Beating Bloat

Bloat is common, but that doesn’t mean you simply have to accept it. You can minimize or avoid bloating altogether by using the six tips below. 

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Eat meals high in protein and complex carbohydrates
  3. Slow the pace at which you eat to help prevent overeating
  4. Continue eating healthy fiber, but avoid rapid, large increases in the amount of fiber you consume
  5. Avoid carbonated beverages
  6. Rather than three meals daily, eat smaller meals more often

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6 Tips for Losing Belly Fat

The good news about your efforts to lose belly fat is that many of the steps you take can help prevent bloating, as well. To eliminate that bulge, you can:

  1. Drink lots of water
  2. Get regular aerobic exercise and strength training
  3. Reduce your total calorie intake
  4. Eat more protein and complex carbohydrates
  5. Avoid trans fats, alcohol, and sugary foods
  6. Get plenty of sleep 

When to Talk with Your Doctor About Bloating

In some instances, bloating can be a sign of a serious health issue. Talk with your doctor if you experience bloating that’s accompanied by:

  • Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea

A new way of life is possible. We can help you make the lifestyle changes needed to reclaim your freedom. Learn more about Baptist Health’s Bariatric Care and Weight Management services or find a Baptist Health provider online. 


Next Steps and Useful Resources:

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