Editor’s Note: This article has been modified from David Soto’s book, “Pass Your PT Test: An Unconventional Guide to Passing the Air Force Physical Fitness Assessment.

If you are struggling with the waist measurement portion of your physical fitness assessment, one way to overcome the circumference of your waist is to reduce inflammation.

You have more than likely experienced acute inflammation when you sprained your ankle or got stung by a bee. As a result, the affected area gets swollen, red, painful, or even warm. Typically these effects go away over a short period of time, when the threat is gone. If the inflammation persists, it is a good indication that something more serious is actually wrong. People who thought their wrist was sprained often find out it is actually broken after the swelling does not go away after a couple days.

Chronic inflammation — which can be caused by consuming irritating foods —  affects your body the same way as acute inflammation (pain, swelling, redness, and heat), but is present over a long duration of time, months or even years. Imagine your body’s reaction to a bee sting never going away. Now imagine this bee sting happening inside your body.

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I want you to keep in mind that your heart and lungs are protected by your ribcage. They are also separated from the rest of your internal organs by a wall of muscle known as the diaphragm. Your diaphragm basically lies horizontally right at the bottom of your rib cage. Right below your diaphragm are your liver and stomach. Now if these two organs swell up due to inflammation, where do you think they are going to go? Not up. You diaphragm prevents that. How about down? Nope, your other organs take up the rest of the space in your thoracic cavity. The only option is out. This is the part of your belly you can’t seem to get rid of and exactly where the test administrators measure waist for your PT test.

You may or may not have excess body fat, but if you have a belly, especially right below your rib cage, I am willing to bet a big part of that is inflamed organs.

You can exercise and restrict your calories all you want, but if you are still eating irritating foods, nothing will reduce the inflammation in your gut. This is why, for a lot of people, diets don’t work.  

Below are just a few irritating and inflammatory substances.

  1. Wheat
  2. Sugar
  3. Dairy
  4. All other grains
  5. Booze

So, how do you reduce inflammation in your gut? Give up number one on the list above: wheat.

This includes all breads, tortillas, cereals, pancakes, waffles, pastas and sweets made with flour. Keep in mind, most things that are labeled “gluten free” are processed junk. They will likely still cause inflammation and definitely spike your insulin, which has a number of negative side effects itself.

If this is easy for you to do, feel free to eliminate the next item on the list. If you want drastic results, eliminate them all. I have seen one of my client’s waistlines shrink inches in just 30 days, but he had only lost five pounds. Why the drastic loss of inches but not a drastic loss in weight? He gave up these inflammatory foods and the swelling simply went down.