"When we're seated, our back muscles and spine help keep us upright and the abs are in a slack position, especially if you slouch," explains Joseph Herrera, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and the director of sports medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City. "Although we would end up reclining without the opposing muscle forces they provide, intentionally contracting your abs is the only way to activate them as you sit." As I stand in his office, Dr. Herrera tapes electrodes beneath my rib cage and just above my belly button. Cables connect those electrodes to an electromyography (EMG) machine, which makes a whooshing sound every time the underlying abdominal muscles — my external obliques and rectus abdominis — are activated.
I’m doing the ab challenge this month and am loving it. I was wondering if we couldn’t do a challenge next month as well, but maybe one for the back… I’m just worried that all this crunching will make me look like a banana :P Though actually, a lot of guys in my class look like bananas because of working only abs, really… Or maybe you could just suggest some good back moves, and I’ll do that for myself.
Carbohydrates take water to metabolize, and too much fluid can make you feel bloated, Henderiks says. But that doesn’t mean you have to ban all carbs from your diet. Opt for complex, starchy, and fiber-filled ones such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, legumes, oats, leafy greens, and asparagus, which are more slowly digested, and try to limit your daily tally to about 200 grams.

Chewing gum when you’re hungry fills your tummy with extra air, causing bloat. Many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, which can lead to bloating. Skip the gum altogether or opt for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Take the oats out of the pot and pour into a resealable container. For this morning, combine a cup of oats, a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (includes nutmeg, cloves, and ginger), half a banana (sliced), about 5 chopped walnuts, and a quarter cup of almond milk, or your milk of choice. Place in the microwave for a minute, stir, and enjoy!
Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of salt in Americans' diets—and the scary part is you probably don't even realize it. Because of the way these addictive foods are formulated, salt is hidden in everything from soups to pasta sauces to even sweet things like boxed cakes. Swap out processed foods in favor of fresh fare and your tummy will thank you. Not only will you lose the salt-bloat but you'll also lose the extra empty calories and lose weight.
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.)

Our gut microbiome controls far more than we give it credit for, which is why having your gut colonized with beneficial types of bacteria is so important. One way to do this is by taking a probiotic supplement. You can also make these 12 foods that boost good gut bacteria part of your everyday diet. Not only will this help you get sick less, feel happier, and ease digestion but it can also help you de-bloat, flattening out your tummy in the process. Try these home remedies to lose belly fat.
Your phone, tablet, and television may be affecting your waist size in more ways that one. Obviously if you're sitting on electronics then you're not moving around and burning calories. But the effects go beyond just energy. Blue light from electronic screens can disrupt your circadian rhythms; so our addiction to electronics is reducing our sleep as people favor Netflix-bingeing to bed. Both of these effects have been linked to higher levels of belly fat.
Know your anatomy. Familiarize yourself with the muscle groups that make up your abdominal area. If you understand how the muscles work, it will be easier to use them properly when you exercise. Then plan a smart abdominal workout to complete at least three times per week. It doesn't have to last longer than 10-15 minutes, but it should include exercises to work the internal and external obliques on the sides of your torso as well as exercises to work the rectus abdominis, which runs down the middle of your midsection and defines your six-pack.
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.
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.

Cruciferous veggies are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, but unfortunately they're also the ones most likely to cause your tummy to inflate. Thanks to raffinose, a compound that produces extra gas as it breaks down, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and the like can seriously increase your waistline. But don't ditch them forever. Just save them for meals where you can wear loose pants. Here are other surprising foods that cause gas.
"I recommend the DCBA approach: Diet first, Cardio second, Building muscle third, and Abs exercises last. Follow it and you can safely lose one to two pounds a week. Spend 60 minutes a day preparing healthier meals. Spend 20 minutes a day three to five times weekly doing cardio. Spend 15 minutes a day three times a week strength training. Finally, spend 5 minutes a day three times a week doing abs exercises."

HOW TO MAKE IT: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put two skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 pound) on a baking sheet, coating with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary, to taste. Next, chop up a sweet onion, half a pound of red pepper(s), a pound of carrots, and half a pound of brussels sprouts. Toss to coat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Throw everything on one tray and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Meanwhile, you can cook your quinoa according to package instructions.


A classic Pilates move, the roll up is 38 percent more effective at targeting the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”) and 245 percent more effective at targeting the obliques than a basic crunch, according to an Auburn University study. To do it, lie face-up with legs straight, ankles, knees, and thighs together. Flex feet and extend arms overhead. Inhale to prepare as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. On your exhale, continue to roll up by drawing in abdominals, reaching arms up and over toward feet. Keep abdominals contracted, with spine rounded in a “C” curve. Pause and inhale. On your exhale, roll down through each vertebra in a controlled movement, keeping heels pressed evenly into the floor the entire way up and down. Do 15 reps as controlled and precise as you can, as many days a week as possible.
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called “the belly fat” hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn’t good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it’s important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn’t? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)
Lie faceup with legs together and extended straight out. Rotate hips slightly to left so that legs are on a left diagonal. Place left hand lightly on back of head and extend right arm straight out to side, palm facedown (A). Crunch up and lift legs, keeping legs on the diagonal (B). Slowly lower back to floor. Do 30 to 40 reps; repeat on other side.
Breakfast: Banana “Pancake.” Imagine a pancake that doesn’t leave you feeling sluggish, but instead nourishes you for your morning. That’s just want this banana “pancake” does: http://www.theskinnyconfidential.com/2012/09/25/ummm-seriously-dying-ingredient-pancakes-flourless-full-protein/. *Be sure to follow the suggestion to include flax seed for optimal results.

I bet you knew this one was coming…and I am sure you have heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”. Which is true to an extent. You still need to train in order to burn subcutaneous fat sitting on top of your muscles and of course to condition the muscle under the fat, but clean eating will keep you from counteracting all your hard work in the gym. Think of it this way, if a small order of French fries is around 400 calories that’s about 30 minutes of jogging. You can undo all your hard work in the gym if you eat too much and you eat crap. So, don’t overeat, and all processed foods need to go. Get rid of the potato chips, microwave dinners, and definitely put an end to those fast food fixes. The chemicals in these garbage foods like fake flavors, colors, fats, sweeteners etc. disrupt your biochemistry and slow your metabolism. Plus, the sodium, simple starches, and sugars alone will help keep your belly looking bloated and defeat your efforts. Replace the junk food with whole, quality, organic foods that are packed with healthy nutrients, not preservatives. Then, work these three foods into your diet for maximum belly-fat burn.
UPDATE (1/16/17)...I initially gave this a 4/5 thinking it was sound, smart advice, but 13 months later, after reading a number of nutrition books, I've come to understand a lot of the bad advice given in this book. While there are some good points on antibiotics, the advice and justification of Whole Grains are terrible (frankly, I dismiss anyone's nutritional advice when they say you need to eat whole grains; whole grains suck; see Wheat Belly or Undoctored by William Davis and/or Eat the Yolk ...more
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