Another imbalance that plagues the abs is between the obliques, the muscles that cinch your sides. You have two sets on both your right and left, and if you show them love, they'll give you a nice hourglass shape. Sadly, your left obliques start out at a disadvantage, says Hahn. Blame your heart, which takes up extra space and makes the obliques difficult to tone—an issue that's compounded if you're right-handed. "Think about where your mouse pad is," says Hahn. "Then you shake hands, change the radio station in the car—you do so much with your right side, making it stronger."
As this video from the PictureFit YouTube channel explains, the only guaranteed way to get a flat stomach is through—brace yourself—diet and exercise. To be more precise, you need to use up the fat you have stored around your abs. But because spot reducing is a myth, you’ll have to focus on reducing the fat throughout your entire body. To do that, you’ll need to burn more calories than you put in every day, but it’s more complicated than “eat less, move more.” You need to eat fewer carbs while increasing your lean protein intake. Why? Your body will try to burn carbs for energy first, but if you haven’t ingested many carb-heavy foods, your body will target fat for energy instead. Plus, protein makes you feel full longer. You also need to incorporate resistance training in your workouts to keep yourself from losing muscle mass in addition to fat (more muscle means burning more calories naturally). Low intensity cardio training can help with burning more calories each day, but it won’t help you retain muscle, so make sure it’s not the only thing you do.

Lie faceup with legs together and extended straight out. Rotate hips slightly to left so that legs are on a left diagonal. Place left hand lightly on back of head and extend right arm straight out to side, palm facedown (A). Crunch up and lift legs, keeping legs on the diagonal (B). Slowly lower back to floor. Do 30 to 40 reps; repeat on other side.
High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”
Pilates Zip Up: Stand upright with the heels together, toes slightly turned out. Bring the arms up, into an "upright row" position, hands just underneath the chin. Exhale, press the arms down (as if pressing down on a box of dynamite), keeping the hands and arms very close to the body. Simultaneously, lift your heels off the ground onto your tiptoes. Hold for two seconds at the "top" and inhale and return to the starting position. The abs go "in and up" and the arms go down. Perform 20 repetitions.
No, we're not telling you that you need a tummy tuck. Rather, there are several common health conditions that can make your belly bulge and until you fix the anatomical issues underneath, nothing else can flatten it out. For instance, many women have a diastisis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles, after pregnancy. In about 25 percent of these women, the muscles never quite come back together, leading to a permanent protrusion. Similarly, a hernia (congenital or from an injury) can also cause your belly to stick out. Both conditions can be resolved surgically.

In this book, we look at all of the ways you can improve your own gut health, starting with the food you eat. My diet recommendations, meal plans, and recipes will help feed and protect your gut microbes. And we look at the many other steps you can take to support your beneficial bacteria, from avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to changing the way you think about dirt and germs. Even the choices you make about how you bring your children into the world can have an impact on your family's microbiomes.
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