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Is it belly fat or just bloating? This guide will help you find out

Published on:15 April 2020, 17:06pm IST
That big belly could be due to fat accumulation over time or simply because of bloating. Know the difference so you can combat the problem.
Sonakshi Kohli
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All my bloating and digestion woes slowly went away. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Am I just bloated or is my belly fat prompting me to up my workout and diet game?”. This question haunts every woman—especially before she’s about to slip into a skimpy dress that promises to highlight her curves—ALL the curves, we mean. Yes, even that of her belly bulge. 

If you too happen to face this problem in life, we know exactly how these mixed signals from the body can be super-confusing and make it difficult for you to decide the right plan of action to tackle the problem. But, not anymore.

This has got to stop right here, right now as we’re about to unveil just the right way of figuring out whether your bigger belly is a result of bloating or fat accumulation. Here’s how you can differentiate between the two pain-in-the-rear problems:

What exactly are these two problems even?

Belly fat
Belly fat is usually something that develops over a period of time and stays longer as well. It occurs when you are consuming more calories than required and settles around the organs, especially the lower belly,” points out Preety Tyagi, nutritionist, health coach, and co-founder, My22BMI, a health and wellness services company.

Bloating
“Bloating is an occasional ballooning or swelling up of the stomach that usually happens due to gas build-up/water retention post-consumption of certain foods,” she adds.

So what causes these problems?
Belly fat
Tyagi attributes belly fat to the following causes:

  • Consuming higher calories than needed or burnt.
  • Lack of exercise and physical workout.
  • Hormonal imbalance.
  • High consumption of unhealthy fats and carbohydrates in the diet.
  • Dehydration and water retention.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Poor sleep
  • Smoking

Bloating
As for bloating, she says: “Bloating can be caused after eating foods that are hard to digest or cause gas during digestion. Poor digestion and the incapability to break down these foods can fill up the gastrointestinal tract with air or gas.”

“Lactose intolerance (the inability to digest milk/dairy products) is also a major cause of bloating,” she adds.

Not to mention, bloating could be a side-effect of certain medications or just an underlying health problem such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, bacterial infection, etc. In fact, you could be bloated due to excessive water retention if you’re going through a bad pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or simply if you’ve had too much sodium from salt/preserved foods.

These symptoms can help you identify the real villain
By now you’re probably clear about how bloating and belly fat are two entirely different problems. Unfortunately, though, their similar effects can still stir up some confusion. But, these symptoms can help you identify whether you’re just bloated or it is belly fat.

Belly fat
This is basically fat accumulation inside the abdominal cavity. Hence, the most common sign would be a noticeable increase in the size of your belly bulge over time. In case you’ve been overeating, living a sedentary lifestyle, and not exercising every day, you can be certain that the cause of your misery is belly fat, that has accumulated over time because of your poor lifestyle. 

belly fat or bloating

If ignored, belly fat can make your life worse. “It is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. It also involves a high risk of heart attacks, asthma, and many more health issues,” Tyagi warns.

Bloating
As for bloating, she says,“Bloating can be caused after eating foods that are hard to digest or cause gas during digestion. Poor digestion and the incapability to break down these foods can fill up the gastrointestinal tract with air or gas.”

“Lactose intolerance (the inability to digest milk/dairy products) is also a major cause of bloating,” she adds.

Not to mention, bloating could be a side-effect of certain medications or just an underlying health problem such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, bacterial infection, etc. In fact, you could be bloated due to excessive water retention if you’re going through a bad pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or simply if you’ve had too much sodium from salt/preserved foods.

Also, Read: Here’s a crash course on prebiotics to keep your gut healthy and happy

How can you combat these problems?
Now that you know what the real problem is, you can try out these expert-recommended ways to combat the issue:

Belly fat:

  • Avoid sugary foods. Foods that contain a lot of sugar and additives.
  • Eat a lot of soluble fiber.
  • Eat a lot of protein and control the intake of carbohydrates.
  • Exercise regularly and adequate.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat mindfully and avoid overeating.

Bloating:

  • Don’t eat big portions of food at one time.
  • Avoid swallowing air while eating. 
  • Don’t eat foods that cause gas or constipation.
  • Avoid sugary drinks/beverages—especially with alcohol.
  • Have gut-friendly, clean, home-cooked food.
  • Eat more fiber and less salt.

Now that you know, make healthy decisions and get fit.

1 Comment

  1. Totally useless post. Look at their suggestion : Don’t eat foods that cause gas or constipation.

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Sonakshi Kohli Sonakshi Kohli

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then.