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.
Rather than start your week off by Googling 'how do you get a flat stomach?' and falling into a pit of contradicting answers, listen here. It may be Monday but if you want that flat tummy, it's time to work. Try out some of these simple moves to work that core. PT Kristoph Thompson says, 'exercises from standing, lunging or sitting translate to much better functional strength than those done lying down.' Essentially sack off doing endless crunches.
Rather than scarfing down meals, make a point of chewing each bite at least 10 times before swallowing. "The body has to work overtime to break down food in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to major gas and indigestion," Dr. Reichman says. Plus, when you eat fast, you're more prone to swallowing air, which can ratchet up your risk of feeling a little puffy.
To lose body fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. When trying to lose belly fat, the Harvard Medical School says you should not cut back so much that it makes it too difficult for you to stick to your weight-loss plan. To lose 1/2 pound to 1 pound a week, you need to reduce your overall calorie intake by 250 calories to 500 calories a day. Tracking your calorie intake before you start your diet can give you an idea of how many calories you currently eat and how many you need to lose weight. The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute says most men can safely lose weight limiting intake to 1,500 calories to 1,800 calories a day.
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.
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.
There are healthy belly bacteria, and then there are bad belly bacteria, the later of which studies indicate overweight people have more of in their gut. To keep the fat-causing bugs at bay, you need to eat a variety of foods that support their healthy counterparts—the kind found in the bellies of slim people. Examples of probiotic-rich foods that help you lose weight by aiding digestion include kefir, kombucha, and yogurt.
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?