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.
Try to cook fresh when you can instead of relying on packaged foods, says Armul. “There are preservatives in them to prolong shelf life,” she says. “The thing that makes them so convenient is they’re there all the time, waiting on the shelf—but that also means they’re higher in sodium.” When that extra sodium holds water, you’ll end up feeling bloated. Here are more foods that relieve stomach bloating.
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.
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."
The book itself doesn't get tediously microbiome-focused, though. The first section of The Lose Your Belly Diet sets the stage, then part two goes into which foods can give you that healthy mix of gut bacteria. Part three focuses on other ways to boost your stomach's microbiome health (avoiding antibiotics when you don't need them, exercise, and what probiotic supplements to take, namely), while part four gets actionable, providing a diet quiz, recipes, and a meal plan.
Even if you can't get to the gym, try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk daily, Lyons says. The simple boost in metabolism will help you burn waistline fat more efficiently. And if you want to work out, skip those gadgets that promise "miraculous abs in minutes." A study from Kansas State University found most devices designed to target abs (think infomercials) don't live up to their promises. You'll see better results with traditional exercise.
"When you're frazzled, your body increases its production of steroids and stress hormones, which negatively affect your digestive system, causing major constipation," says Dr. Reichman. And as if that weren't enough to leave you looking pouchy, stress also amps up the production of cortisol, a "fight or flight" hormone that sends excess fat directly to your midsection in its attempt to protect your vital organs. To minimize tension, Dr. Reichman advises taking 20 minutes a day to relax.
Strength training is a great way to stay in shape and build up muscle, and because muscle mass burns more calories than fat (every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself), the more muscle on your skeleton, the quicker you will lose the fat throughout your body, especially around your abdomen. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year, and be even closer to obtaining that lean physique you’ve always wanted. A simple way to build up muscle via strength training is to do push-ups or planks.
Great book, very easy to read, got done with it within 2 days. The recipes seem easy and the ingredients are reasonably priced, even for organic produce. Haven't actually tasted the recipes yet, will try them this weekend, but the quick hacks have been easy to incorporate, and it's nice that he gives brand names, so it's easy to shop for. The different chapters really make sense regarding their topics ( good "bugs": what they do, and how to help them help you). I also liked the quick list of what you should always buy organic and the list for OK non-organic produce. Looking forward to trying the recipes.
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.
You likely don’t think you’re eating air, but talking while noshing, drinking from a straw, and chewing gum can all cause air to accumulate in your stomach, making it expand over your waistband. In addition to breaking those bad habits, taking smaller bites can also help you keep the air out, says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, R.D., author of The Belly Fat Fix and a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
It’s called a “beer belly” for a reason. Boozy bubbles are a major cause of belly bloat, as anyone who’s ever looked in the mirror after a few too many drinks can attest. But it’s not just the carbonation that is the culprit. Alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your stomach, leading to gas, not to mention all the empty calories that are going straight to your waistline. Instead, skip the alcohol altogether or limit yourself to one serving per day.
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.