Often it seems the more you eat, the more you want to eat, and also the more you are ABLE to eat? Is it because your stomach has stretched from prolonged overeating? How about, when you eat less and feel you are no longer able to eat as much as you used to, it is because your diet has caused your stomach to shrink?
I remember this being something I would often say when I was younger. Like, “I used to be able to clean my plate! My stomach must have shrunk.”
But how true is that statement? Can you really shrink your stomach by eating less? The answer might surprise you.
The Smithsonian.com article, “Does Dieting Actually Make Your Stomach Shrink?” explains the process of a stomach’s preparation for a meal and what happens after you’re done:
Even before dinner is served, the digestion process has already begun. In anticipation of a meal, saliva builds up in your mouth, while acid and enzymes accumulate in the stomach to help break down food. The stomach muscles also relax to prepare for the impending bombardment…For the average adult, this natural “stretchiness” is far more important than baseline volume in determining how full someone gets from a given intake of food. As you eat more, your stomach volume can increase more than five-fold to house all the chow. After the food passes through the digestive tract, however, the stomach returns to its original size.
While your stomach does have the ability to stretch, it doesn’t stay that way for long. So on that big cheat day you had this past weekend when you stuffed yourself to the gills didn’t really make your stomach permanently bigger, at least not on the INSIDE.
By overeating, however, you may have started a dirty new habit. Eating more volume can affect your appetite and what it takes for you to really feel full.
WebMD explains, “Once you are an adult, your stomach pretty much remains the same size–unless you have surgery to intentionally make it smaller. Eating less won’t shrink your stomach…but it can help to reset your ‘appetite thermostat’ so you won’t feel as hungry, and it may be easier to stick with your eating plan.”
So what’s the answer? In short, it’s both “no” and “yes.” No, you can’t shrink your internal stomach organ by cutting back on food. However, eating less will help you reduce your overall appetite and help you eat less on a regular basis, which can also help reduce the size of your midsection or “outer” stomach, among other areas.
Don’t go too far with reducing your intake, though. Skipping meals has been linked to abdominal weight gain.
ScienceDaily reported that in one study using animals, “skipping meals set off a series of metabolic miscues that can result in abdominal weight gain. In the study, mice that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers–which scientists consider a telltale sign of pre-diabetes. When the liver doesn’t respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose, that extra sugar in the blood is stored as fat.”
This means that skipping meals can actually have the OPPOSITE of the desired effect, causing your body to store fat in the very place you want to lose it most–your abdomen.
So what’s the best way to shrink your stomach? I’m afraid the answer is good old-fashioned healthy diet and exercise. A balanced diet of good food and healthy portion size combined with a good mix of cardio and weight training are the building blocks for a great midsection. Taking care of digestive health to prevent bloating and promote regularity are also good ways to keep your abs in check.
Looking for some ab exercises to help out with shrinking your stomach from the OUTSIDE? Check out my Killer Core Gym Workout video!
Stomach-shrinking graphic by M. Johnson.