"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.
That's exactly what happened when last summer I shared Zero Belly Diet with a test panel of more than 500 people, some of whom lost as much as 16 pounds in just 14 days, and up to three inches off their waist. The secret to Zero Belly Diet is the new science of nutritional genetics, the study of how our genes are turned on and off by the foods we eat. Simply making a handful of tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can help improve your gut health, dampen inflammation, turn off your fat genes and start your body shedding fat—in particular, belly fat—almost automatically.
WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D., one of the nation's leading bioidentical hormone physician experts, has treated thousands of women and men with hormone imbalances for more than a decade. A graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Dr. Randolph is board-certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American Board of Holistic Medicine. As the co-founder of The Natural Hormone Institute, Dr. Randolph continues to be a frequent speaker for medical and consumer health organizations across the country. He is the co-author of the best-selling books, From Hormone HELL to Hormone WELL, From Belly FAT to Belly FLAT, and In the Mood Again.
For test panelist June Caron, incorporating fresh produce like avocados was a life-changing lesson from Zero Belly Diet. The 55-year-old lost 6 pounds in the first week on the program. "Learning to eat real, chemical-free, fresh foods has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I am never hungry. And the weight just keeps coming off!" Glowing skin, healthy nails, and better sleep were Zero Belly bonuses, June said. "I'm well on my way to getting my sexy back. Everyone says I look much younger!"
IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. IBS symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and bloating—So. Much. Bloating. While the causes aren’t all known, it’s thought to be linked to lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, hormones, and stress. Sufferers often find that making changes in these areas eliminates or reduces their IBS (and their stomach circumference!). Here’s how these 10 myths about fat can keep you from losing weight.
Though your uterus shrinks back to its normal size after the baby's born, your muscles don't always close—in fact, in a small study, nearly 40 percent of women still had a gap six months after giving birth. This breach allows the soft tissue behind your abs to come through, Trupin says. Plus, your back muscles have to compensate for your off-duty abs, putting you at risk for back pain.
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?