"When we're seated, our back muscles and spine help keep us upright and the abs are in a slack position, especially if you slouch," explains Joseph Herrera, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and the director of sports medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City. "Although we would end up reclining without the opposing muscle forces they provide, intentionally contracting your abs is the only way to activate them as you sit." As I stand in his office, Dr. Herrera tapes electrodes beneath my rib cage and just above my belly button. Cables connect those electrodes to an electromyography (EMG) machine, which makes a whooshing sound every time the underlying abdominal muscles — my external obliques and rectus abdominis — are activated.
Your phone, tablet, and television may be affecting your waist size in more ways that one. Obviously if you’re sitting on electronics then you’re not moving around and burning calories. But the effects go beyond just energy. Blue light from electronic screens can disrupt your circadian rhythms; so our addiction to electronics is reducing our sleep as people favor Netflix-bingeing to bed. Both of these effects have been linked to higher levels of belly fat. These 21 other terrible habits will make your belly fat worse.
Even if dieters have cut out the cheese pizza and ice cream, losing that extra fat around the middle can prove frustrating, especially for those over 30. Author and doctor Randolph (From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well), along with women's health expert James, asserts that much of the blame can be placed on estrogen. A three-pronged approach to reverse the trend, resulting in additional weight loss, involves eating foods to balance one's hormone levels (primarily cruciferous vegetables, citrus and fiber); using a natural, topical progesterone treatment (naturally, he suggests Dr. Randolph's Natural Balance Cream); and taking seven key dietary supplements, including a range of vitamins, a ""calcium-magnesium combo"" and DHEA. The importance of exercise and physician visits are acknowledged but not discussed (""When You Will Need a Doctor"" is essentially two paragraphs about getting one's hormone levels checked). The month's worth of meal plans provided are generally tasty, healthy dishes such as Cauliflower Crab Cakes, Pickled Beets and Grilled Salmon with Dill and Lemon; that said, Randolph's bold assertions and self-promotion give the book an infomercial feel that compromises an otherwise medically sound diet.
If you are a woman in your thirties, you need to understand that estrogen dominance is not 'your mother's problem.' For most women, estrogen dominance is a concern to be reckoned with long before middle age or menopause. As a woman approaches her midthirties, the balance of hormones within her body begins to shift, starting with a decline in progesterone. In fact, progesterone production declines 120 times more rapidly than does estrogen production. It is this downward shift in progesterone production that causes the body to become estrogen dominant.
Losing weight can be just as hard emotionally and physically. Remembering why you started your weight-loss journey can help lift your spirits when you’re down and motivate you to stick with it when you want to throw in the towel. “Take a moment each morning to remember what you’re working for—whether it be improved energy so you can play with your children or a longer happier life,” says Dyan Tsiumis, who dropped more than 70 pounds before becoming a personal trainer. “When you focus on all the good that will come from all of your hard work, it’s easier to stay on track,” she adds.
Protein is kryptonite to belly fat. When you eat protein, your body has to expend a lot of calories in digestion—about 25 calories for every 100 calories you eat (compared with only 10 to 15 calories for fats and carbs). With that said, stock your kitchen with boneless skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, lean beef, lamb, wild salmon, shrimp, scallops, cod, tuna, and halibut. Looking for a new tasty way to eat salmon? Check out this Zero Belly Green Tea Poached Salmon Recipe for some inspiration.
I ask Dr. McCulloch how I ended up with a relatively slim 26-1/2-inch waist that has forced me to belt every pair of pants I've ever bought in order to cinch the gap created by wearing sizes big enough to fit my more ample bottom. The answer includes factors like body type, fat composition, and possibly even the shape of the pelvic bone, where your ab muscles attach, she says. Theoretically, a wider pelvis can translate into a broad lower abdomen and hips, compared with what's north of the belly button. "These are all variations on normal, and genetics can play a big role," she assures me.
Stand upright, feet apart. Lock your fingers to create a solid grip. Exhale, and sweep the hands, arms, shoulders, and chest to the left, as if you were rowing a canoe. At the same time, lift the left knee up and to the right. Inhale and return to the starting position. Exhale and perform the movement to the right. Keep switching sides for 20 reps.
"I recommend the DCBA approach: Diet first, Cardio second, Building muscle third, and Abs exercises last. Follow it and you can safely lose one to two pounds a week. Spend 60 minutes a day preparing healthier meals. Spend 20 minutes a day three to five times weekly doing cardio. Spend 15 minutes a day three times a week strength training. Finally, spend 5 minutes a day three times a week doing abs exercises."
Flat-Belly Bonus: Fiber-rich lentils feed healthy gut bacteria and keep things moving along smoothly in your gut to prevent bloating and constipation. And adding dark leafy greens (as we do in tonight's dinner) helps you take in fewer calories without increasing hunger. As per Harvard University research, vegetables are the number one food that promotes weight loss.

In addition to exercise, getting in shape quickly will require some habit changes. For starters, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on two and a half times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on slightly less than that. Though that might not sound like much, when you have a regular bedtime and stick to it, you set yourself up for day-in, day-out weight loss.
Dinner: Stuffed Bell Peppers. Fill this super food with everything you need for dinner and you’ll have an easy to make dinner loaded with nutrients in no time. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/stuffed_peppers.html *note: replace canola oil with olive oil and use brown rice or quinoa for the rice called for in this recipe. Use sliced avocados leftover from lunch as a garnish/side.
The good news, according to Weltman, is that high intensity — the level at which you feel the effort and can no longer hold a conversation — is different for each person. "You may have to run to get to that level, while someone else may just have to jog or walk," he explains. "It all depends on your level of fitness, but the great thing is, you can do it whether you're a competitive athlete or just starting out."
In fact, weight-loss research proves that because of shifting hormone production, the average person will add one to two pounds around his or her middle each year between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five. As long as your body's cellular metabolism is compromised by an untreated hormone imbalance—most particularly estrogen dominance—the extra pounds around your middle will be nearly impossible to lose.
Given the rising temps it’s to be expected that you may drink more water than usual in the coming months, just make sure your H20 intake occurs before you chow down. According to a British study, sipping 16 ounces of water before each meal can lead to substantial weight loss. Researchers enlisted 84 obese adults for a three-month experiment and broke the participants into two groups. The first group was told to drink 16 ounces of water half an hour before each of their meals while. the other group was told to imagine that they were already full prior to digging in. When the study concluded, the water group lost about 9 pounds, while their imaginative peers shed approximately three fewer pounds. Scientists suspect loading up on H2O before meals is an effective weight loss strategy because it helps increase satiety. If you’re less hungry when meal time rolls around, then you’re more inclined to make smarter food choices.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Combine piece of salmon, ¼ avocado, half a tomato, and a handful of frozen corn (which will thaw by lunchtime) with 2 cups of lettuce of your choice (we like romaine). Adding a handful of cheddar cheese or crushed tortilla chips is optional. To make the dressing, combine a cup of cilantro, a clove of garlic, the juice of 1 lime, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Save half of the dressing for a salad later this week.
The last protein you’ll be cooking this week is another lean meat, pork tenderloin. Congratulations! You made it through the week without red meat! The average American eats about 3.3 oz of red meat per day. Eating too much red meat has been linked to chronic, inflammation, heart problems, cancer, and an unhealthy gut, so our flat-belly plan eschews the stuff. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it, though! Experts recommend having only 3 servings of red meat a week—but make sure it’s grass-fed beef, not grain-fed. This source is teeming with heart-healthy omega-3s and fat-burning conjugated linoleic fatty acids. It’s also lower in inflammatory saturated fats.
Beating yourself up over food is a knowledge-behavior gap many unsuccessful dieters fall into. Calling yourself “greedy” or a “fat pig” or “weak-willed” only makes you feel bad about yourself, which often leads to eating more in an attempt to give yourself a boost. It’s important to try to stop the negative self-talk, says Freida B. Herron, M.S.S.W., L.C.S.W. “I often suggest imagining that your desire to overeat is a lovable 5-year-old child,” she says. “You don’t want to berate or shame your appetite—that only leads to more dysfunctional eating.” Instead, treat yourself with respect, understanding, and affection, as you would that child.

Want a flatter stomach? Look in your glass—milk and soda are two major causes of tummy inflation. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, which means that your glass of warm milk before bed may be the reason you wake up with too-tight pajamas. And when it comes to soda, both regular and diet are belly busters both from the sweeteners used and the carbonation. Try eliminating these from your diet and see if it helps flatten your tummy.
A study by Eat This, Not That! magazine advisor Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that you can estimate how much someone weighs by taking a photo of their kitchen counter. After analyzing photos of 200 kitchens, he found that women who have soda sitting on their countertops weigh an average 26 pounds more while those who have cookies weigh about eight pounds more. The biggest surprise: Keeping cereal on your counter leads to an additional 20 pounds of body weight. The lesson here is to clean empty calories off your countertops to start losing weight.

Sugary treats, while obviously delicious, aren't very good for our bodies—and that includes our tummies. Not only do the added calories add inches to our waistlines, but sugar overload leads to insulin resistance, which tells the body to store extra fat around the waist. But that's long-term stuff. Sugar also bloats your tummy in the short-term by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to extra gas. When it comes to flattening your belly, nixing sugar is one of the best things you can do. Here are clear signs you're eating too much sugar.
And as a little extra bonus, we’ve reduced your added sugar intake to essentially 0 grams per day. With some clever tricks (like adding bananas to sweeten your oatmeal) and by completely eschewing ultra-processed foods (which provide the average American with 90 percent of the added sugar you’d consume in a day), cooking at home not only helps you lower your calorie intake, but also helps you to cut that inflammation-inducing added sugar. So grab a pen and paper, get to the grocery store, and start cooking! You’ll start feeling slimmer, less bloated, and have more energy in no time.
Day 3 of the ab challenge and feeling great! For anyone who is thinking of starting this, DO IT. I can already feel myself getting stronger in my core. Day 1, the leg lifts were awful, Day 3 they weren’t as bad. I see results so quickly and am very excited and motivated to continue! Good luck popsters! Btw- Dont forget the water part. It is so important and if you dont like water, add some lemon or fruit!
If you find regular water too boring, consider making sassy water instead. Sassy water is simply regular water infused with a number of refreshing and energizing ingredients, which help to speed up the metabolism and cut down on belly fat. Recipes vary, but many include some combination of ingredients such as orange slices, lemon slices, grated ginger, cucumber, fresh spearmint, and fresh basil. The water is left to infuse overnight — making it refreshingly "sassy" by the next morning!
HOW TO MAKE IT: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a 1 pound, small spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place in an oven-safe baking dish, flesh-side up, and pour about 2 tablespoons of water into each half. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until tender. In the meantime, pour a serving of marinara sauce into a small saucepan along with 6 of the mini meatballs to begin to heat up and defrost. Cover. Once the squash is done, pour out the water and use a fork to scrape long, spaghetti-like strands from the flesh onto your plate. Save the other half of the squash for lunch tomorrow.
Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of salt in Americans' diets—and the scary part is you probably don't even realize it. Because of the way these addictive foods are formulated, salt is hidden in everything from soups to pasta sauces to even sweet things like boxed cakes. Swap out processed foods in favor of fresh fare and your tummy will thank you. Not only will you lose the salt-bloat but you'll also lose the extra empty calories and lose weight.
This crunchy and creamy pair will be a perfect low-calorie snack to tide you over between meals today and throughout the week. Thanks to their high water content, carrots and cucumbers are two of the most satiating and hydrating low-cal veggies out there. And pairing them with protein- and fiber-rich hummus makes for a near-perfect weight loss snack. With just a single can of chickpeas, this recipe makes enough for a week’s worth of snacks!
HOW TO MAKE IT: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put two skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 pound) on a baking sheet, coating with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary, to taste. Next, chop up a sweet onion, half a pound of red pepper(s), a pound of carrots, and half a pound of brussels sprouts. Toss to coat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Throw everything on one tray and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Meanwhile, you can cook your quinoa according to package instructions.

Crunches address your abdominal muscles, but you also need to do exercises to hit the other major muscle groups including the legs, hips, shoulders, chest, back and arms. At least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of exercises for all of these muscle groups -- including crunches -- completes a total body routine and will help tone your stomach area faster than crunches alone. Once you can do that without getting too tired, repeat each exercise set two or three times, or make them harder by adding weight. The important thing is to continue challenging your body if you want to see continued improvement.


Test panelist Bryan Wilson, a 29-year-old accountant, lost 19 pounds and an astounding 6 inches from his waist in just six weeks on the program, and he attributes his success to the Zero Belly shake recipes in the program. "I love the shakes. I added them to my diet, and almost immediately I lost the bloat," Bryan said. "I'm a sweet craver, and the shakes were an awesome alternative to bowls and bowls of ice cream I would have had."
Crunches address your abdominal muscles, but you also need to do exercises to hit the other major muscle groups including the legs, hips, shoulders, chest, back and arms. At least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of exercises for all of these muscle groups -- including crunches -- completes a total body routine and will help tone your stomach area faster than crunches alone. Once you can do that without getting too tired, repeat each exercise set two or three times, or make them harder by adding weight. The important thing is to continue challenging your body if you want to see continued improvement.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Marinate a pound of pork tenderloin in ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger, 3 minced garlic cloves, a tablespoon of red pepper flakes, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of canola oil. Allow to sit in the fridge, chilled for 30 minutes up to 2 hours, and then allow to come to room temperature.
"Eating portion-controlled meals that include whole-grain foods and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) throughout the day is the best way to eat for a flat belly: People who eat whole grains lose more abdominal fat. And making most of the fats you eat MUFAs reduces ab flab, research says." —Keri Glassman, RD, author of The O2 Diet and The Snack Factor Diet

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese practice to “Eat until 80% full.” If you follow Hara hachi bu, you could save nearly 300 calories per day. It can take up to 30 minutes for the body to register satiety signals, according to research, so consider using chopsticks to slow your pace and feel your fullness. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, healthy-weight customers were nearly three times more likely to use chopsticks than obese customers.
When doing an abs circuit, think about all three planes of motion, says celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, who works with Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardashian, and Vanessa Lachey: Try crunches and reverse crunches to hit your sagittal (front to back and up and down) plane, standing side bends for frontal (side-to-side) movement, and chops or twists for transverse (rotational) action. This will help challenge and therefore define your abs.
And as a little extra bonus, we’ve reduced your added sugar intake to essentially 0 grams per day. With some clever tricks (like adding bananas to sweeten your oatmeal) and by completely eschewing ultra-processed foods (which provide the average American with 90 percent of the added sugar you’d consume in a day), cooking at home not only helps you lower your calorie intake, but also helps you to cut that inflammation-inducing added sugar. So grab a pen and paper, get to the grocery store, and start cooking! You’ll start feeling slimmer, less bloated, and have more energy in no time.

Dump the little pink weights. Build and shape muscle to improve the overall effectiveness of your workouts and to maintain a healthy metabolism. How much weight is enough? According to the American Council on Exercise, you should lift 70-80% of your maximum resistance to build and shape your muscles. Maximum resistance is usually defined as your “1 rep max” or the most weight you can lift in one repetition. For most people that means lifting more than the 2-3 pound little pink weights that you find in some fitness centers.

Dr. Travis Stork is an Emmy(R)-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show "The Doctors" and a practicing board-certified emergency medicine physician. He graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and earned his M.D. with honors from the University of Virginia, where he was elected into the prestigious honor society of Alpha Omega Alpha for outstanding academic achievement. Born and rais ...more
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