Boxing also gives you a cardio workout that burns extra calories. Add 16 minutes of boxing three times a week to your regular cardio routine (30 minutes at high intensity four to five times a week), and you can lose up to 2 inches from your waist in four weeks. Simply throw punches while holding 1- or 2-pound weights for 8 minutes, alternating arms, then repeat without weights at a faster pace for 8 more minutes."

Throw intense, high-speed intervals into your usual cardio workout, and you’ll burn the same or more total calories in a shorter amount of time—and the harder you push it, the more calories you burn after your workout, Holland says, meaning the fat will melt off to reveal your abs. Peterson recommends adding sprints of 10, 20, and 30 seconds and recovering for two to three times that long. Bonus: You can “sprint” on anything: treadmill, bike, rower, swimming, elliptical—you name it.
“Proper sleep is crucial for weight loss. Too little sleep leads to poor food choices, largely due to increased levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Too little sleep also decreases levels of leptin, a hormone that helps satiate your appetite. Lack of sleep also clouds judgment and causes impulse decision making, which inevitably leads to poor food choices,” adds founder and Certified Sleep Science Coach at SleepZoo, Chris Brantner.
The external obliques are the V-shaped muscles running diagonally down your sides that, along with the internal obliques underneath them, help you rotate your spine when a Ryan Gosling look-alike walks by. The rectus abdominis, meanwhile, is the straight-down-the-center muscle which, yes, can make you appear to have a six-pack if you have a seemingly single-digit body-fat percentage like Ryan Gosling's. The one remaining ab muscle, which Dr. Herrera's surface EMG won't be picking up, is the transversus abdominis. The deepest-down of all, it does a complete wraparound of your midsection and pulls it in like a corset.
Moves like the tolasana and the eight subsequent ones we did that day are representative of a shift that ab exercises have taken in the past decade or so. Previously there was a tendency to isolate the abdominal muscles to give each one an individual workout — crunches for your rectus abdominis, bicycles for the obliques — but as Olson points out, that's not the way it works in real life. "When you're reaching up to get something, picking up a baby or bending down, you need all the muscles to work together," she says. "Instead of targeting each one, you should aim for functional fitness, where the muscles work as a unit."
The pooch is bad enough, but what's worse is the back problems an overworked rectus can create—anything from general pain to degenerative or herniated disks, says Wells. "The stronger muscles in the front of your body take over and your back muscles turn off ," he says. With nothing to hold your spine in place, the disks can shift and squish together.
As part of the Flat Belly Plan, have an anti-inflammatory snack in the afternoon. Snacks should be rich in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that help curb inflammation. They're the natural compounds that give berries and other fruits their vibrant color. Try a sliced yellow bell pepper with hummus or a bowl of mixed berries drizzled with dark chocolate. Click here for more anti-inflammatory food suggestions.
If you find regular water too boring, consider making sassy water instead. Sassy water is simply regular water infused with a number of refreshing and energizing ingredients, which help to speed up the metabolism and cut down on belly fat. Recipes vary, but many include some combination of ingredients such as orange slices, lemon slices, grated ginger, cucumber, fresh spearmint, and fresh basil. The water is left to infuse overnight — making it refreshingly "sassy" by the next morning!
Your core is the center of your body. You need to identify it, engage it and have all movements extend from it. It's also key to go beyond basic crunches. They're one-dimensional, hitting only the rectus abdominis (or six-pack). My quickie series targets the midsection from multiple angles, part of the reason why my clients over 40, like J.Lo, still have sculpted abs. Pair with 30 to 60 minutes of cardio and aim to do it six times a week.
Make dessert an occasional treat rather than an everyday event so it doesn’t become a habit, says Rumsey. If you’re already feeling bloated, eating sweets full of simple carbs could just make it worse, says Armul. “But if it’s been a healthy day and you’ve stayed active, a small portion of dessert should be fine and won’t cause major bloating,” she says. The key to making it fit into your flat-belly day is sticking with one small portion—a serving of ice cream is probably smaller than your usual scoop (or two)—or picking a healthier choice, like frozen fruit, to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you’re the type of person that drowns your sorrows in a pint of ice cream, you might be what experts refer to as an “emotional eater”—and it’s likely the primary reason you have trouble staying trim. To lose weight, you need to first learn the difference between emotional hunger, which comes on suddenly, and physical hunger, which comes on gradually and is often accompanied by physical cues like a growling stomach, explains Forberg. The best way to overcome the urge to eat? Realize that although a bad feeling will eventually go away, the calories you consumed while you were feeling down, won’t. And the next time you’re feeling emotional, don’t try to mask your emotions or distract yourself. Experts say that truly experiencing your emotions will teach you that it’s possible to tolerate them head-on. Once you’ve done this exercise, it’s time to find a new, healthy coping strategy. Hitting the gym or calling a friend to vent are both solid options. For more tips from Forberg, check out her latest ETNT article, The Biggest Loser Dietitian’s Top 25 Weight Loss Foods.
“Dance cardio really is an amazing way to trim belly fat because it is going to help shed fat on the body as a whole. It is obviously a cardio workout, but because your body is forced to move in all different directions in different planes, it is making every single muscle in your body work. Similar to the benefits of a HIIT workout, you get the cardio plus toning benefit all in one,” Hope explains. So try a dance-centric class at your gym or turn up your iPod and bust some moves at home.
A recent study revealed that when women who were unhappy with their weight completed a one-time, 15-minute writing exercise about an important personal issue, they went on to lose at least three pounds over a three-month period. On the other hand, their counterparts who wrote about an unimportant topic gained three pounds, according to Cheryl Forberg, author of A Small Guide to Losing.
As we grow older, our metabolism dips and more fat begins to accumulate around our waistline, giving us that ‘spare tyre’! But getting rid of belly fat is not just about appearances. Studies say that people with a large midriff are 2.75 times more likely to die of heart disease, even if they are within a healthy weight range. The fat stored in your belly region is more dangerous than the fat stored in the rest of your body. It increases bad LDL cholesterol, messes with your blood sugar, increases your blood pressure and your risk of having a heart attack. In short, having that spare tyre is more dangerous than simply being overweight!
Since the best way to lose weight and stay in shape involves a combination eating right and exercising, we’ve included both types of tips on our list, and also interspersed some valuable habits to keep in mind if you’re looking for a flat belly. While tossing some berries and nuts into your oatmeal is a great way to boost your intake of satiating protein and fiber that will transform your tummy for the better, so too is doing some core-engaging flat planks. Couple those adjustments with ensuring you get a solid eight hours of sleep each night, and watch the belly fat disappear faster than the sunscreen you can never seem to buy enough of.
Drink water. Stay hydrated to stay energized and active. You’ll also reduce belly bloat from water retention if you maintain a well-hydrated body. Skip the high-calorie sports drinks and sweetened drinks. Stick to homemade flavored water to keep your hydration habit cheap and healthy. If you feel like your belly weight is due to water retention, there are safe ways to lose water weight quickly so that your tummy gets flatter in a few days (or even a few hours).
Shift your weight into your right foot. Hug your left shin into your chest, then extend it straight back behind you so it’s parallel to the ground. Flex your left foot and point the toes down. Bring your fingertips to the ground to stabilize yourself if you need to. Reach your arms out in front of you so your body is in a straight line from your fingertips all the way down your back and out through your left heel. Stay here for 3 long, deep breaths then slowly return to standing. Repeat on the 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.”


Protein is kryptonite to belly fat. When you eat protein, your body has to expend a lot of calories in digestion—about 25 calories for every 100 calories you eat (compared with only 10 to 15 calories for fats and carbs). With that said, stock your kitchen with boneless skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, lean beef, lamb, wild salmon, shrimp, scallops, cod, tuna, and halibut. Looking for a new tasty way to eat salmon? Check out this Zero Belly Green Tea Poached Salmon Recipe for some inspiration.
This fried rice recipe is the most underrated weight-loss food out there because it utilizes two cooking methods that boost nutrients. For starters, it uses cold brown rice, which changes the starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation (adding to the resistant starches found in the corn and peas). Resistant starches pass through your gut undigested, where they feed your good gut bacteria who then release anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s also fried up with oil, a fat that acts as a barrier against rapid digestion.

Salt, in moderation, is a good thing—the mineral is necessary for a healthy heart and brain. But too much salt and you’ll retain water, bloating up like a water balloon. Cutting salt is one of the primary ways to drop extra water weight (one reason you may see a big weight loss when starting a new diet!). Move the salt shaker off your table so you’ll get out of the habit of routinely salting all your food. Then if you taste your food and still really want salt you can still stand up and get some. For more weight loss benefits, add these fat-burning foods to your plate to help you lose weight.
Studies have shown that people who eat oats for breakfast feel full longer, and whether you prefer oatmeal or overnight oats, try tossing some berries and nuts into the already protein-packed meal to make it even more nutritious. The tasty additions are both great sources of satiating fiber, which is an excellent weight loss ally, and are healthier than brown sugar of syrup, which can cause the formation of belly fat. For an added boost, sprinkle some cinnamon on top. New research suggests the comforting spice improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, inducing them to start burning energy via thermogenesis.
What’s better than squats if you’re looking to get a flat belly? Pairing those squats with a bicycle crunch. This combo is one of Mark’s favorites because of all the different muscle groups it targets. “This compound movement not only hits your legs, but also works lower abdominals, upper abdominals, and obliques—all in one fun move!” he explains. Do a handful of sets a few times a week to start seeing results.
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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