Article last updated: January 2020 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
Most skinny-fat guys suffer from bloating to some extent.
There are many reasons to why you are getting bloated on a diet:
Fluid levels in your body: When you eat too much sodium and not enough potassium your body retains excess water. This water retention can happen within an hour of eating a high sodium meal and make you gain anywhere from 3-10 pounds of water. Around 1/3 of the population is sensitive to sodium and do much better on a high potassium diet and I found that within the skinny-fat category the number is much higher than 1/3 – closer to 2/3 are sensitive to sodium.
How do you know if you retain lots of water? The main indicator is the face. If your face starts looking a bit softer or rounder it’s most likely water retention since water retention happens all over the body whereas the other reasons for bloating I’m about to list below only happen in the stomach.
Is water retention dangerous? To some extent. If your water retention is very severe the water can block the blood flow in your body and thereby your risk of cardiovascular diseases increases significantly. Symptoms of chronic excessive water retention are high blood pressure, soft erections (or erectile dysfunction) and cold hands or feet.
Solution for water retention:
- Cut down on salt intake by reducing table salt, salty snacks, deli meats, prepared meats, high sodium sauces.
- Eat real whole foods. These are usually very limited in sodium.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and potatoes with every meal. These are high in potassium. When you eat a lot of potassium you balance out the sodium and thereby flush out the excess water from your body. This will give you a much more dense and hard looking physique.
- Drink lots of water. When you’re dehydrated you retain excess water. By drinking a lot of water you flush out the excess water.
- Eat foods that are natural diuretics (flush out water from your body). The top food here is watermelon. (Watermelon is a double-edged sword because it flushes out water from all over your body but it can temporarily make your stomach bloated. I.e. your face will look leaner after eating watermelon but your stomach may be distended for a few hours after eating it).
- Build up to a good sweat everyday. Do an activity that makes you sweat and get’s your heart going for at least 30 min per day.
Fiber intake: The other reason for bloating can be high fiber intake. When you eat lots of fiber or suddenly increase you will most likely get bloated. This isn’t dangerous at all however it can be uncomfortable.
Food intolerances: If you eat foods that you are intolerant to that can cause bloating and constipation. Here are some of the top foods skinny-fat guys are intolerant to:
- Dairy products: Whey protein, milk, cheese, chocolate.
- Wheat: Bread, chips, tortillas, pizza, burgers.
- Foods that are known to bloat: There are certain foods that are known to bloat:
Excessive meat intake: When you eat too much meat or protein you will get constipated and that will over time lead to more food in the stomach.
Eating starch sources you don’t tolerate well. Potatoes and rice are safe starch sources that most skinny-fat guys tolerate well. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereals are generally not tolerated well.
Big portion sizes: When you split up portion sizes into 4-6 meals per day rather than 2-3 big ones you put less stress on the digestion.
So here are the main reasons to bloating and now I’ll outline how the average diet in most countries leads to lots of bloating.
The average diet in most countries contains the following things:
- Lots of sodium and not so much potassium (few fruits and vegetables). This leads to a lot of water retention.
- Excessive meat intake.
- Starch sources such as bread, pasta, cereals.
- Big portion sizes.
The combination of all this can easily make you gain an extra 10 pounds of bloating, gassiness and water retention.
When you dial in your diet you will lose most of that 10 pounds and feel light, satiated and energised rather than heavy, bloated and low on energy.
Is bloating dangerous? In some cases bloating is dangerous.
Bloating from excessive water retention is dangerous because it blocks blood flow and thereby puts you at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Similarly, bloating from excessive meat intake or eating foods you don’t tolerate well is dangerous over time because it causes inflammation and inflammation is the root cause of modern diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
This is why you should use food as your medicine – you can prevent most serious diseases by dialling in your diet early.
In addition, health and body-composition go together. If you optimise your diet and health you will also do everything you can to support a leaner and more muscular physique.
With my clients I use a BioFeedback sheet where I ask them questions about how they feel on their diet. An example is how their energy levels are and if they have bloating after certain meals.
Then based on their answers we dial in the diet until it works for them.
Finally, I want to point out that you shouldn’t get obsessed with having a bit of bloating after a meal. It’s completely normal to have some bloating after meals and gain 1-3 pounds throughout the day.
It’s only if the bloating is excessive that you should worry.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer