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.
Core compressions: Sit tall in a chair with your feet hip-width apart and your belly flattened toward your spine. Place one hand on your upper abs and the other on your lower. Take a deep breath in, then exhale forcefully to draw your abdominal muscles in even tighter, keeping your back straight and still. Continue for five minutes, focusing on slow, complete tightening of the muscles. Do two sets.
Lie on your right side, supporting your upper body on your right elbow, forearm, and hand. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Slowly lift the rest of your body off the floor, so all that's touching is your forearm and feet. (Use the other arm to balance. For an advanced move, hold that arm straight up in the air.) Hold as long as is comfortable or until you can no longer maintain good form. Then slowly lower and relax. Repeat on the other side, alternating until fatigued.
I’ve completed the third line. I just realized I’ve been doing the leg lifts wrong. I was doing them as alternating, not as double. No wonder it’s felt so brutal! As I said on the Thigh challenge, I didn’t understand why there was 12 days of doing exercises 1-3 ten times, and 6 days doing exercise 4 ten times. Now that I’ve completed Day 18, it makes perfect sense. My abdominal area is getting stronger, which is helping with my belly fat. Today after doing all five exercises 10 times I thought “I’m supposed to do these 22 times?!” My next thought was “No, I’m supposed to increase these five exercises by a count of 1 over the next 11 days and finish up with 22 times.
Take off your “fat jacket.” It’s a simple analogy, but helps make the point about the types of exercise that offer the best results for fat reduction and, in turn, a flatter stomach. Think of your body’s layer of fat covering your stomach (and elsewhere) as a “jacket” (one of its purposes, after all, is to hold in body heat). Your exercise goal is to shed that jacket.
If you can do more than five reps of an exercise, pick up a heavier weight. As you build muscles and your body gets stronger, you can increase your load to challenge your body. It’s particularly important to work larger muscle groups, like your glutes, with a heavier weight. “This will burn fat, in the belly and other areas, quicker than any ab exercise.”
Vary your cardiovascular exercise routines. For fat reduction and weight loss, your goal should be to average thirty to sixty minutes of aerobic exercise daily. The exercise doesn’t need to be intense, but should make you breathe hard enough to make having a conversation a bit of a challenge, and work up at least a light sweat (think again of the jacket analogy from above).
Lately the common sit-up has stirred controversy, coming under fire from certain experts for putting excessive wear and tear on the spine. While evidence is mounting but the jury is still out, try this simple back-friendly modification from Stuart McGill, PhD, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada and author of The Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance: Lying faceup on the floor, slip your hands underneath the natural curve of your spine. "You can activate the rectus abdominis with tiny upward movements, as if you're lifting your head and shoulders off a bathroom scale so it registers zero," he explains.
To start off your quest for a flat belly this summer, why not begin with a simple and versatile exercise you can do whenever you have a spare 5 minutes? Flat planks engage your core, and according to Eat This, Not That! For Abs author Mark Langowski, they are “the single most effective move that works every muscle in your body.” Whether you’re doing some flat planks while you watch TV at night or in your office during some downtime, they will have your abs (and the rest of you) looking fit and toned in no time. “If you can only do it for 30 seconds before collapsing, try to add 10 seconds to it each time you attempt it,” Mark advises. “Do this for three sets every other day and you’ll start seeing results!”
Do aerobic exercises daily. Sure, you can do 100 crunches a day, but if you've got a layer of belly fat covering up your ab work then what's the point? You need to burn the top layer of stomach fat to see the changes. Cardio exercises will heat up your core temperature and improve circulation, both of which will aid in acquiring a flat stomach. Strive for at least 30 minutes a day minimum, but include 1-2 days of rest each week.
When you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, it’s important to make each calorie count by choosing low-calorie, high-nutrition foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. The tables available through the Mayo Clinic provide examples of how making some relatively simple food “swaps” and portion alterations can help significantly reduce your calorie intake.
Nonstarchy vegetables: Because vegetables fill you up without filling you out, they’re really the backbone to any healthy eating plan. They’re also loaded with anti-inflammatory properties to continue to banish belly fat for life. Even when you reach your goal weight, aim to have a minimum of four servings of nonstarchy vegetables every single day.
"My No. 1 tip: Do the ball exchange three times a week. Lay flat on your back with your arms above your head and legs straight out. Start with a stability ball above your head in your hands. Bring the ball up above your chest as you bring your legs up to meet the ball and place it between your ankles. Bring the ball back down to the floor with your legs and straighten your arms back out over your head.
Avocados are a double-whammy to belly fat. First, they're packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that dim your hunger switches; a study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. Second, unsaturated fats like those found in avocados seem to prevent the storage of belly fat. (These creative ways to eat avocado will help you up your intake.)
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.
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.
Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, the heart-healthy compounds in chocolate, that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content. We like Nibmor Extreme Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs.
Try to cook fresh when you can instead of relying on packaged foods, says Armul. “There are preservatives in them to prolong shelf life,” she says. “The thing that makes them so convenient is they’re there all the time, waiting on the shelf—but that also means they’re higher in sodium.” When that extra sodium holds water, you’ll end up feeling bloated. Here are more foods that relieve stomach bloating.
Whether you’re sleeping in or up before the sun, a yogurt parfait is the perfect way to start your Sunday. Packed with protein and slow-digesting fiber, this perfectly-portioned parfait will certainly tide you over until your late lunch or brunch—providing you with long-lasting energy that will help prevent the spikes in blood sugar your typical sugary bowl of cereal would give you. That’s why this is one of our favorite healthy breakfast ideas.
Like lunch, your evening flat-belly meal should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter whole grains, and one-quarter protein. That combination is packed with nutrients, but will also keep you full. A healthy plate might contain vegetables roasted in olive oil, a serving of quinoa, and three to six ounces of chicken or fish, says Rumsey. (Read these secrets nutritionists won’t tell you for free.)
Before hitting the hay, prepare breakfast for half of the week tonight! This recipe makes enough for 4 breakfasts, of which we’re only using 3 servings this week, so you can finish the last serving next Sunday (just throw a portion in the freezer tomorrow to keep it fresh)! We’re using the overnight oats method to cut down on time since we’ve chosen to use one of the longer-cooking oats, steel-cut. They might take longer to prepare, but steel-cut oats are one of the best cuts out there. They’re lower on the glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, meaning they’ll keep you fuller, longer. These oats are also loaded with vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin), which are so important, the government usually enriches your cereal with them!
Who knew leftovers could taste this good? Lean pork tenderloin is the perfect protein for this Thai-inspired salad. We like to top it off with two dressings that play off each other. The first is the leftover cilantro-lime vinaigrette, and the second is a spicy peanut sauce to add some healthy polyunsaturated fats to your plate. If you don’t already have some peanut butter, be sure to check out our PB guide, The 36 Top Peanut Butters—Ranked!, before you head to the store.
Stork tells Fox News he also get asked for advice quite a bit, but he thinks it's great that people are so interested in their health. "The one thing that I’ve learne,d and this is something that I found to be true since I started hosting “The Doctors,” is [that] we all want to be healthy … We don’t always succeed, but we’re all looking to be healthier and if people have questions for me … unless, like one time on a plane, a guy said, 'Hey doc, my hemorrhoids are really acting out!' No!"