Reading the nutrition label of packaged foods is important, but you also want to carefully review the ingredients list. While the nutrition label will tell you how many calories and grams of fat and sugar are in the food, the ingredients list will tell you what’s exactly in it. Ask yourself: Does it have processed oils? What is the source of the sugar content? Are there food additives?
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.
Chewing gum when you’re hungry fills your tummy with extra air, causing bloat. Many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, which can lead to bloating. Skip the gum altogether or opt for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
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.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Reheat burger patty in a flat iron skillet on medium-high. On the other side of the pan, drop a tablespoon of grass-fed butter onto the skillet and warm up an English muffin until brown. Remove bun. After about 3 minutes, top turkey burger with a handful of cheddar cheese, pour a tablespoon of water onto the pan, and cover the pan with a lid. Once the cheese has melted, remove, place on top of the bun, and layer on a slice of tomato, avocado, and top off with some dijon mustard. Serve with a side salad of arugula (or lettuce of your choice) with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes. You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist."
Naturally sweet oatmeal recipes in Zero Belly Diet were the key to test panelist Isabel Fiolek's dramatic 13-pound weight loss. "I happen to have a big sugar addiction," Isabel admits. "But the recipes have been surprisingly satisfying for my sweet tooth." Isabel also made dramatic health strides: A checkup after her six weeks on Zero Belly Diet revealed she'd dropped her total cholesterol by 25 percent and her blood glucose level by 10 percent.
Lie faceup on floor with arms by sides. Curl head and shoulders off floor, then raise arms overhead (biceps by ears) and legs up at a 45-degree angle to start. Keeping upper body lifted throughout, bring knees toward chest and circle arms around, touching palms to outside of knees. Extend legs and raise arms overhead to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite at Rush University Medical Center suggests filling half your plate with vegetables so you don't have room for unhealthy foods. Eating more vegetables not only helps whittle your waist, but also lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A vegetable-filled lunch might include 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 2 cups of mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 cup of roasted red potatoes. This meal contains 545 calories.
For a flat belly, put down the chips and cookies and snack on some air-popped popcorn instead. The air-popped stuff doesn’t have the salt and fat that comes with unhealthy microwave popcorn that’s usually doused in butter, and it’s also an excellent source satiating fiber and protein. In fact, one cup of popcorn popped fresh in olive oil and lightly salted has 2 g of fiber, one g of protein, and is only 40 calories. To add some flavor to the tasty, low-calorie treat, make use of metabolism-boosting spices such as cinnamon or cayenne pepper. For more ways to boost your fiber intake, check out The 43 Best Foods for Fiber!
"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.
Removing saturated fat (the kind found most often in animal products like meat) and replacing it with monounsaturated fat in moderation is undoubtedly a good thing. It helps lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and the chance of heart attack and stroke. So it’s a good approach for anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease.
It’s not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, , allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that’s published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.