When you spend your summer pretty much living in swimsuits or crop tops, your focus — for better or worse — may be on your abs. It’s important to accept your body, love your body for what it is, and not lose out on summer fun because you aren’t satisfied with the state of your six pack (because there’s way too much fun to miss). But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat foods that help you achieve flatter abs — and avoid a few other foods that may cause bloating at the wrong time, like 10 minutes before a pool party.
This is the worst food you can eat in the summer for a flat stomach. Luckily, you can also easily kick it to the curb and replace it with much healthier alternatives.
Pretzels are a tempting summer snack because they're relatively low in calories, especially for a carb, and are so easy to grab and munch on the run. But pretzels contain 359 mg of sodium per ounce. Considering how most adults are encouraged to have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day, that's a big chunk of your daily intake to have come from a snack that serves up very little nutritional value.
By all means, enjoy pretzels — in moderation — if you're trying to avoid bloating.
Sodium Intake Causes Water Retention And Bloating
The number one reason to eat pretzels in moderation or to avoid them altogether in the summer is that they contain an abundance of sodium, which retains water and can actually cause visible bloat soon after your snack.
“The CDC reports that about 90% of Americans consume more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet (2,300 mg per day for most people, and 1,500 mg for adults over 50, and people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high risk of hypertension),” reports TIME. “Sodium sneaks its way into most processed and packaged foods, including soups, breads, and these other surprisingly salty foods.”
So, while you may be avoiding refined carbs because they aren't the best choice for flat abs, be sure to check labels on foods that you suspect have a lot of sodium — including condiments like soy sauce (which has 879 mg of sodium per tablespoon).
Have This Instead: Kale Chips
With just 50 calories per serving and 201 mg of sodium, baked kale chips provide the crispy texture you might miss when you toss pretzels to the curb, but they’re also a rich source of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Add a drizzle of olive oil to your kale before you bake it and you’ll even benefit from omega-3 fatty acids.
Have This Instead: Air-Popped Popcorn
Another delicious snack option for when you crave snacks is air-popped popcorn, which has just 30 calories per one cup serving, a sliver of fiber and iron, and 0 mg of sodium. You won’t get the same nutrients from popcorn as you will from kale, but it will satisfy your cravings and keep you on top of your flat abs goals. Just remember: don’t add butter or a ton of oil. If you want a little flavor, try sprinkling a dash of cinnamon or even cayenne pepper on your popcorn.