Remember when you ate the rest of the holiday cookies after a big, rich meal, and still felt hungry the next day? That's because prolonged periods of overeating—hello, like the holidays!—make your stomach's network of stretch receptors (the ones that send messages to your brain that you're full) less sensitive. Short-circuit your post-binge appetite by eating healthy portions of low-calorie, high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They'll keep those receptors satisfied without directing you toward the leftover pies.
The next part of the plan aims to reduce inflammation. Belly fat has been linked to inflammation and elevated cortisol (the stress hormone). Belly fat is even thought to be "toxic" to your system as it releases chemicals into your body that wreak havoc on your appetite and the way your body metabolizes food. That's why anti-inflammatory foods are thought to be effective in fighting belly fat and breaking the vicious cycle.
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called “the belly fat” hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn’t good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it’s important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn’t? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)
“Researchers believe that reflecting on values can serve as a buffer to the stress and uncertainty that leads to emotional eating and help in maintaining self-control in difficult situations,” she explains. To reap the benefits at home, Forberg suggests pulling out a journal, setting the timer and free-flowing about what’s important to you. “Write as though no one else will read it. Come clean with what’s bugging you. It may surprise and enlighten you,” adds Forberg. For more weight loss hacks, check out these 40 Ways to Lose Weight in 4 Seconds.
Incorporate strength training. While it's true you'll need to lose the fat over your abdominals so that your muscle tone can show through, don't rely on cardio alone to get the job done. Muscle will help reshape your body and allow you to actually burn calories while your body is at rest, not just when you're hitting the gym. Studies show that those who lift weights have a lower fat mass percentage than those who do aerobic exercise alone.
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.
Just like vegetables, this can be as simple or as complex as you want it. Maybe you’re just making sure there’s a protein source at each meal (if it was lacking before). Maybe you’re figuring out rough portion sizes. Maybe you’re taking it to the max and actually weighing your food. The point is, you should be including it throughout the day and week.
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.
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.
"Most women don't want to talk about it, but you really have to set aside a specific time each day to use the bathroom," notes Judith Reichman, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "If you don't, it's too easy to give into feeling rushed, and ignore the urge to go." Once you've trained your brain to dismiss your body's signals, you set the stage for bloat-inducing constipation.
Though it's been months since its debut, the book continually spikes on Amazon's Movers and Shakers list — its roundup of the top-selling products across the site — and it's currently listed as the No. 1 bestseller in the Diet Books category. Naturally, this begs the question: What's all the hype about? Aside from the famous author — and the fact that the title suggests fixing a problem just about every human struggles with (just look at search traffic for "flat belly" and "flat stomach" exercises). Is it all just marketing hype?