Crunches address your abdominal muscles, but you also need to do exercises to hit the other major muscle groups including the legs, hips, shoulders, chest, back and arms. At least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of exercises for all of these muscle groups -- including crunches -- completes a total body routine and will help tone your stomach area faster than crunches alone. Once you can do that without getting too tired, repeat each exercise set two or three times, or make them harder by adding weight. The important thing is to continue challenging your body if you want to see continued improvement.
Replace your candy and cookie jars on the kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruits and containers of nuts. Stock your fridge with chopped veggies and hummus for a quick and healthy snack. This way they’re more readily available, and you have no excuses to grab a bag of chips, right? Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, the dietitian to the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, likes having washed and prepared cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where you can see them. To discover more healthy foods that will help you lose weight, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body.
A slim, sexy stomach is something most of us covet. Unfortunately, you can't just exercise your way to it. A lot has to do with what you put into your mouth. I find that one contributor to a bloated belly is gluten. That's why I choose to eliminate it from my diet. But not everyone can (or wants to!), especially since it pops up in everything from salad dressing to soy sauce. I advise women to try giving up gluten for a week and see how they feel. Rather not? Simply stick to whole grains, which are a much healthier choice than the overly processed alternatives. A cleaner diet, along with the following moves, will improve your core by the end of the month.
Squat-thrust push-ups. Start in push-up position, do one push-up, then push off with your feet and pull your knees up to your chest so your feet land between your hands (still on the ground in push-up position), then jump as high as you can, arms over head. Squat back down with your hands on the floor, then jump back to push-up position again. Do as many as you can do well with good form.
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.
A dry sandwich is no good, but neither is one smothered in high-calorie mayo. Swap the popular condiment for avocado instead and help blast fat. Just half of an avocado contains 4.6 grams of belly-filling fiber, and its satiating powers are so potent that a study in the Nutrition Journal discovered that folks who added half a fresh avocado to their meal reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. And unlike mayo, which is basically void of nutrients, avocados contain metabolism-enhancing monounsaturated fats that have been shown to reduce hunger, and unsaturated fats, which seem to prevent the storage of belly fat. For more ways to blast your belly fat, take a look at 10 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 10 Days!
Stand upright with heels together, toes slightly turned out. Bring your arms up, hands joined, below the chin. Exhale and press your arms down. Keep your hands and arms very close to the body. At the same time, lift your heels off the ground onto your tiptoes. Hold for two seconds at the "top,” inhale, and return to the starting position. The abs go "in and up" and the arms go down. Do 20 reps.
Stand upright, feet apart. Lock your fingers to create a solid grip. Exhale, and sweep the hands, arms, shoulders, and chest to the left, as if you were rowing a canoe. At the same time, lift the left knee up and to the right. Inhale and return to the starting position. Exhale and perform the movement to the right. Keep switching sides for 20 reps.
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.
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!”
No, we’re not telling you that you need a tummy tuck (although that would flatten your belly, we suppose). 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.
Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between the gut microbiome and a healthy immune system and gastrointestinal system, as well as autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease), allergies and asthma – even cancer. And with every study that is published, they are convinced that a healthy gut leads to a healthy body. Indeed, when your gut is happy, your skin glows with health and you look and feel younger.
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.
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.
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.
That means Pink Lady over Granny Smith, watermelon over honeydew, red grapes over green ones. The higher levels of nutrients called flavonoids—particularly anthocyanins, compounds that give red fruits their color—calm the action of fat-storage genes. In fact, red-bellied stone fruits like plums boast phenolic compounds that have been shown to modulate the expression of fat genes. To learn more about turning on and off your fat genes, check out the essential list: 21 Nutrition Myths—Busted!
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.
As for celebrity fad diets, Stork says he's suspicious. “I'm wary of all celebrity fad diets. I think when we started hosting 'The Doctors' is when the maple syrup diet came out, and it was all about, 'Oh pour a little maple syrup with lemon,' and I was like, 'No, no, that's not going to cure you of all that ails you. I think people need to be careful with celebrities because we always forget … celebrities have a lot of money and access to a lot of things that most normal people don't."