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).
Out-of-whack hormones have all kinds of uncomfortable side effects and belly bloat is one of them. There's a reason that bloating is one of the primary complaints women have during menopause! While you can't turn back the clock and reclaim the hormone profile of your 20's, you can make sure you're within the normal range—something your doctor can check for you. (Before your appointment, know these signs of a thyroid disorder). In the meantime, eating right and exercising are natural ways to balance your hormones.
The two figures standing in front of me one recent winter morning could not look more different. On the right is Carrie McCulloch, MD, a musculoskeletal anatomy expert and the medical director for Kinected Pilates studio in New York City, who is sizing up the shape of my waistline. Dr. McCulloch's own midsection happens to be perfectly rounded because she is only weeks away from giving birth to her first child. On the left is her assistant, Mr. Bones, one of those hanging skeletons that teach medical students how the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. Mr. Bones doesn't actually have a waist, just a hollow space between his ribs and pelvis.
I'm not going to tell you to abstain from alcohol completely, I'm pretty open about how much I enjoy a little tequila from time to time of the occasional glass of red. But when you're trying to lose weight and tone up, alcohol is the ultimate enemy. Alcohol releases estrogen into the bloodstream and when you have excess estrogen, you're more prone to hold onto weight. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, decreases your willpower, and stimulates your appetite. The result? You're at a diner ordering a cheeseburger and fries at 2 a.m. Now THAT is definitely not the route to a rock hard six pack. Your best bet is to take a hiatus from booze until you meet your weight-loss goals and can re-introduce alcohol into your diet in a healthy way – 2 to 4 drinks a week tops.
A flat stomach only appears when you have a low enough bodyfat percentage. The reason there are 1,000,000,000 ab workouts on YouTube is because people know there’s BIG money in the ab-industry for people desperate to get a flat stomach! And ab exercises are much easier to market as exciting than “eat better, get strong, move more, for a long long time.”
Your breakfast toast won’t miss these sugar-laden spreads when you start to shed pounds and notice a flatter belly. One tablespoon of jam easily carries just under 10 grams of sugar. And let’s be honest, who just has one? Top peanut butter sandwiches with fresh pieces of fruit, like banana and strawberry slices to infuse it with some natural sweetness. This tactic will help ward off blood-sugar fluctuations that can cause insulin spikes and put hunger into overdrive.
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.
A recent study found that those who ate three yogurts a day while dieting lost 81% more belly fat than people who didn't eat yogurt. All study participants were directed to eat 500 calories less per day. As part of the Flat Belly Plan, you should eat about 6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt before every meal. Why? It's thought that calcium can help stop fat from entering your cells, improve your body’s ability to break down fat and help your body carry out fat through your bowel movements.
We also love yoga, hula-hooping (yep, great for the abs) and the good standby “Abs of Steel” videos, and trust me the outfits in the 1990’s video will increase the cardio aspect just from laughter alone! There are also a slew of videos online, find one you love and can stick to every few days and you’ll be toning as you shed the unwanted belly fat.
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.