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.
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.
You know that light yellow color that makes margarine look almost indistinguishable from butter when laid side by side? Well, it’s far from natural. In fact, without all the additives, margarine is actually an appetite-crushing shade of grey—yuck! As if that weren’t bad enough, many brands add propylene glycol, a synthetic compound, to their recipe to add grease without adding calories. Research has shown that the spread may expand your waistline, increase dangerous cholesterol levels and up your heart disease risk. Instead of margarine, we suggest one of these 8 Best Fats for Weight Loss.
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.
When you’re continually stressed out, it’s bad news for your belly. Stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol, and because cortisol is evolutionarily linked to alerting your body to external dangers (like that buffalo headed straight for you) and low blood-glucose levels, it forces your body to store fat and makes you feel hungry. In other words, if you’re stressed, you’ll start craving that afternoon candy bar even if your stomach is actually full. To avoid stress, try simple things like yoga, taking deep breaths and meditating for a few minutes each day.

DR. RANDOLPH: Synthetic hormone drugs, such as the popularly-prescribed Premarin and Prempro family of products, have been shown to be very dangerous, increasing a woman's risk of breast cancer, blood clotting, stroke and even Alzheimer's disease. That is because these synthetic hormones have a very different molecular structure than the ones produced by the ovaries.
If you're after a sleeker middle, add dairy to your diet. Research shows that its proteins increase satiety and cause you to eat less. My choice: homemade Parmesan crisps. Preheat oven to 350; line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide 2 cups grated Parmesan into 2-Tbsp. portions. Form each into a small pile and press with the back of a fork. Bake until melted and flat, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with chopped cooked vegetables (I love spinach, squash or eggplant).
Many people chew gum as a way to stifle cravings or prevent mindless eating but this tactic may have an unfortunate side effect: belly bloat. Everyone naturally swallows a small amount of air when they chew but it's magnified for people who chew gum, which causes gas and bloating. In addition, some artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase your appetite for junk food, so gum could be increasing your waistline on two fronts.
Research shows the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily, often hidden in processed foods, including “healthy” ones such as yogurt, frozen dinners, sauces, and salad dressings. Twenty teaspoons adds up to 325 empty calories a day, and insulin production increases with sugar intake, which can slow your metabolism, making it harder to burn those empty calories. Read labels and try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
“Soda, both diet and regular, have absolutely no nutritional benefits and may even have serious health implications,” says Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, a Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian. “Not only are they loaded with empty calories, harmful preservatives, sugar or artificial sweeteners, they also have dangerous artificial coloring derived from coal sources,” explains Consalvo. But that’s not even the worst part. “To prevent mold growth in the cans and bottles, makers add the preservative potassium benzoate (a known carcinogen linked to thyroid damage, leukemia and other cancers) into the cans.” Consalvo suggests eliminating soda and drinking water, seltzer or detox tea instead.
Crunches work the upper abdomen, leg raises work the lower abdomen, and side bends work the obliques (also known as love handles). About 15-25 reps each day should be enough. If you can do more than that, try adding weights to your routine. Note that doing crunches will only build muscle underneath your existing belly fat, but will not burn that fat directly.
Yup, this means all the “secret ab routines” you see about targeting certain abs (Upper abs! Lower abs! Obliques!) mean diddly-squat about getting rid of the fat on top of those muscles – those are only necessary when you are at a low bodyfat percentage. Which means you can stop doing 10 different ab exercises to hit the different muscles in your stomach. It’s not a good use of your time!

Protein drinks are great ways to get a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition into a delicious, simple snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. And the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat. (Here's a complete guide to easy-to-digest plant proteins.)
Make fish a regular part of your weekly meal rotation. The Harvard Medical School suggests replacing your saturated fat foods -- steak and bacon -- with more polyunsaturated fats -- salmon and tuna -- to help reduce belly fat. Plus, these healthy fats lower risk of heart disease, which is more prevalent in men than women. A healthy dinner for a flatter belly might include 4 ounces of broiled tuna with 2 cups of roasted Brussels sprouts and 1/2 cup of brown rice for 540 calories.

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."

A slim, sexy stomach is something most of us covet. Unfortunately, you can't just exercise your way to it. A lot has to do with what you put into your mouth. I find that one contributor to a bloated belly is gluten. That's why I choose to eliminate it from my diet. But not everyone can (or wants to!), especially since it pops up in everything from salad dressing to soy sauce. I advise women to try giving up gluten for a week and see how they feel. Rather not? Simply stick to whole grains, which are a much healthier choice than the overly processed alternatives. A cleaner diet, along with the following moves, will improve your core by the end of the month.
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.
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart, toes tucked under. Extend your arms out straight in front of your chest, palms facing down. Lift your chest and press your pelvis forward as you hinge backwards, arching slightly through your lower back. Pause and focus on opening up your chest while also keeping your ribcage down and your belly button drawn into your spine. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat up to 10 times.
During your teenage years your body is changing and growing in all sorts of important ways. Losing weight is possible but you will want to be careful to do so safely so you don't end up causing health problems. Talk to your doctor about your desire to lose weight so they can make sure there isn't an illness causing you to gain weight in the first place, and so they can help you identify ways to lose weight safely while still having a healthy body.
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.
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