After a long winter of calorie counting and hard-core training you’ve finally lost weight and feel confident in your bathing suit!
But until you hit the beach and show off your newly toned bod, you really haven’t crossed the finish line. To tear through the tape looking like your best self, you’ll need to be mindful of what you eat while you’re lounging around in the sand (and the day before, too). It may sound silly, but if you eat the wrong thing you could become the (not so) proud new parent of a prodigious food baby that downplays your hard-earned weight loss. Keep uncomfortable gas from ruining your beach bod by keeping these perpetrators out of your cooler.
1. Trail Mix
The Culprits: Salt and fructose
To the untrained eye, a bag of trail mix seems like a waist-friendly beach snack. It’s filled with satiating nuts and bits of fiber-filled fruit, so it’s got to be far better than chips and pretzels, right? Unfortunately, not so much. Like the chips and pretzels, most trail mixes are loaded with salt, a nutrient that attracts water like a magnet, causing water retention and bloat. And for those who have trouble absorbing fructose, the dried fruit in the mix only makes matters worse. Even if you don’t consider yourself sensitive to the natural sugar, it’s better to steer clear when you’re baring it all on the beach. University of Kansas research suggests that nearly 50 percent of people experience gas from fructose.
Eat This! Instead: Unsalted nuts and fruits that banish bloat are both tasty, flat-belly alternatives.
2. Ice Cream
The Culprit: Lactose
The sand is as hot as a griddle and your throat as dry as the dessert. Then, through the hot wavy air, you see it: an ice cream truck pulling into the parking lot. It’s possible to indulge in a scoop or two without blowing your diet, but if you really want your abs to pop, you may want to reconsider indulging in something creamy. Dairy lactose can cause bloating, gas and stomach discomfort even if you aren’t particularly intolerant of the sugar.
Eat This! Instead: Popsicle Pop Ups. They’re a ubiquitous summer staple that’s low in sugar (10 g) and calories (80-90).
3. Mixed Drinks
The Culprits: Alcohol, fructose and artificial sweeteners
As the mercury rises, so does the availability of booze, making it all the more difficult to fight the urge to indulge. But if you want to look your best in your swim gear, just say no. Alcohol’s diuretic effect can cause water retention and bloat, and if you indulge in something sugary like a pina colada, your body will also produce a gas to aid its digestion. And ordering a “skinny” version your favorite umbrella-topped drink is just as dangerous: To cut calories, bartenders and booze producers fill these beverages with hard-to-digest artificial sweeteners, which cause the belly to swell up like a pufferfish.
Eat This! Instead: If you’re craving something fruity in your cup, mix up a pitcher of detox water and bring it along to the beach.
4. Nutrition Bars
The Culprits: Oligosaccharides and artificial sweeteners
Since everything at the beach burger joint has been given the fryer treatment, you throw a few nutrition bars in your bag before heading out the door. If you’re looking to slim down long-term, this is a smart move. But if you’re looking to keep your tummy tight on the beach, you won’t be a fan of what these snacks do to your bod. Most bars turn to gas-inducing soy isolate to amp up the protein count, and like other beans, soy contains oligosaccharides, sugar molecules the body struggles to break down. With nowhere to go, oligosaccharides hang out in your stomach, causing uncomfortable pressure and bloat.
Eat This! Instead: For lunch, enjoy some honeydew melon–a naturally diuretic fruit–and a bed of spinach salad topped with grilled chicken. The green superfood, while filling, is one of the few salad starters that doesn’t cause bloating.
5. Sparkling Beverages
The Culprit: Carbonation
Though you may love the fizzy bubbles in sparkling waters, sodas and seltzers, you won’t love how they get trapped in your stomach and cause it to swell like a balloon.
Eat This! Instead: Though it’s not the most exciting option, for a flat, happy beach belly, fill up on plain ol’ water. The more hydrated you are, the less apt you are to retain fluid, which can cause that poochy tummy look even if you’ve got flat abs.