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.
Your body needs some sodium to function, but too much can lead to fluid retention in the gut, Henderiks says. Put down the shaker and forgo processed and prepared foods as much as possible in favor of homemade meals so you can control the salt. Experts recommend maxing out at 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day, but this is one time when less is better.
Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat and palms together in front of chest (prayer position). Lean back 45 degrees, extend arms forward, and lift legs with knees bent 90 degrees (balance on tailbone) to start. Slowly lower body until middle and lower back are on floor (head, shoulders, and legs remain lifted). Slowly return to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 reps.
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.
A healthy lunch should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, with the other half split between whole grains and protein, says Rumsey. “That way, you have some carbs but not too much,” she says. Pick a dressing low in sugar and sodium—olive oil with balsamic vinegar will give you a little healthy fat to keep you full and help absorb nutrients from your veggies. (Here are more food combinations that help you get the most health benefits.) Add at least three vegetables, 3 to 6 ounces of a protein like chicken or beans, and just a thumb-sized amount of extras for crunch or flavor such as dried fruit, croutons, and olives, says Rumsey. Double wash canned beans before adding them to your salad to rinse away their gas-forming, bloat-producing properties, says Crandall.
It’s probably no surprise that pasta isn’t the best flat-belly dinner choice—after all, simple carbs won’t fill you up, so you’ll probably end up eating a huge portion—but even your vegetable choice can make you overdo it on carbohydrates. Load your plate with starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas, and you could practically watch your belly blow up. “That’s going to take you longer to digest, which will make you feel bloated,” says Rumsey. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage could also make you gassy and bloated, says Crandall. While all of those veggies can be a part of a healthy diet, stick with non-starchy, non-cruciferous choices like tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms on days when you’re particularly worried about bloat.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Add a spoonful of a cup of 2% Greek yogurt (if you haven’t purchased it in bulk, this is also equivalent to a single container) to the bottom of a dish. Microwave a half a cup of frozen mixed berries with a teaspoon of lemon juice until lightly defrosted. Layer on top a quarter cup of mixed berries, and half of a third of a cup of granola. Add the second half of your yogurt, then the berries, and then finish with granola.
Dr. Travis Stork is an Emmy®-nominated host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors, and a board-certified emergency medicine physician. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned his M.D. with honors from the University of Virginia, being elected into the prestigious honor society of Alpha Omega Alpha for outstanding academic achievement. Based on his experiences as an ER physician, Dr. Stork is passionate about teaching people simple methods to prevent illness before it happens with the goal of maximizing time spent enjoying life while minimizing time spent as a "patient." Dr. Stork is a New York Times #1 bestselling author of “The Doctor’s Diet,” “The Doctor’s Diet Cookbook,” “The Lean Belly Prescription,” and “The Doctor Is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness.” An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Stork is a devotee of mountain and road biking, whitewater kayaking and hiking with his 15 year old dog, Nala.
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means the more you have, the faster your metabolism is and the more calories you burn all day long—all key for a whittled middle. Resistance training builds this quality lean muscle, so do two to three total-body strength sessions a week, says Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag. For fat-melting cardio, all you need to do is your weight, he adds: If you’re 145 pounds, do 145 minutes a week, broken up however fits into your schedule—say, 60 minutes Saturday, 45 Tuesday, and 40 Thursday.
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.
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.
Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Hold onto the outside of each ankle with your opposite hand, and lift your legs off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. Pull your abs into your spine and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, begin to round onto your back. Continue rolling until your shoulder blades touch the floor, lifting your hips, still holding onto your ankles. Keeping your abs in tight, rock back up to sitting, finding your balance again on your sitting bones. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
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!"
Flat-Belly Bonus: Fiber-rich lentils feed healthy gut bacteria and keep things moving along smoothly in your gut to prevent bloating and constipation. And adding dark leafy greens (as we do in tonight's dinner) helps you take in fewer calories without increasing hunger. As per Harvard University research, vegetables are the number one food that promotes weight loss.
Sodium is a big culprit of bloat by causing your body to retain water, but potassium helps counterbalance that salt—here are some other causes of bloating to know about. “By eating more potassium, you can help reduce bloating,” says Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. Slice banana into your yogurt, or scramble up eggs with tomato and spinach, which are other good sources of potassium.
No, we're not telling you that you need a tummy tuck. Rather, there are several common health conditions that can make your belly bulge and until you fix the anatomical issues underneath, nothing else can flatten it out. For instance, many women have a diastisis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles, after pregnancy. In about 25 percent of these women, the muscles never quite come back together, leading to a permanent protrusion. Similarly, a hernia (congenital or from an injury) can also cause your belly to stick out. Both conditions can be resolved surgically.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Using leftover pork from yesterday, throw together a Thai pork salad. Combine a quarter pound of pork (a third of the leftovers), 2 cups romaine lettuce, ¼ red bell pepper, ½ cup cilantro leaves, and 1 shredded carrot. Top with the rest of the cilantro-lime dressing. We like the two-dressing combo with some peanut sauce. To make, combine ½ tablespoon of peanut butter, a squirt of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, and enough water to thin it out.
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.