As it turns out, there’s something to be said for being a creature of habit and eating the same foods day in and day out, especially if you’re on a mission to shrink your belly. When researchers looked at the diets of 6,814 people, they found that the more diverse one’s diet, the more likely one was to experience weight gain. In fact, those who ate the widest range of foods showed a 120 percent greater increase in waist circumference compared with those who had the least diversity.
For your dinner tonight—as well as for lunch and dinner for the next couple days—you’ll be making a super simple roasted chicken breast with roasted veggies and quinoa. Chicken is a versatile, lean protein that’s rich in selenium—a mineral that keeps your skin glowing and your metabolism running properly. Quinoa is an ancient grain that’s touted for its micronutrients, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and antioxidants, like fat-burning quercetin. And, of course, we’re getting in a rainbow of veggies to reap the unique properties of each.
Simply take a good hard look at your diet, make a few modifications you can stick with and get your body moving. Not sure where you stand on diet? Write down everything you eat this week, then compare it to the list above and see where you could have made better choices. Don’t beat yourself up though, learning how to lose stomach fat fast is a process. Simply find areas to improve and work on them next week.
Sit on your hips with both legs extended in front of you. Place your hands behind your hips and keep your back long as you lean back slightly and lift your legs off the floor, holding your belly in and up the entire time. Reach both arms out to the sides of your thighs. Lower your legs about 45 degrees, until your body resembles a wide ‘V’. Hold this position for 10 long, deep breaths (or up to 60 seconds).
How many times have you made it your goal to have a healthy week of eating right? And how many times did that goal fly out the window by Wednesday? We get it. One of the hardest hurdles to jump over when it comes to eating well is preparation and a plan. And most of us just don’t have the time! That’s why we’ve come up with a realistic flat-belly meal plan for a healthy week. After all, study after study shows that healthy home cooking is the fastest way to weight loss success. You’ll learn to cook simple, time-saving recipes that we bet you’ll add to your weekly rotation.
Starting a Meatless Monday tradition is a great way to drop a few pounds because it increases your intake of fiber and a host of other nutrients. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and the lowest body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which are known to possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers, so try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains a few times a month.
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.
It's an all-too-common problem once you hit thirty: Despite your best efforts, you just can't seem to lose the extra weight around your middle, and you look in the mirror wondering what month and year you lost your waistline. Medical research proves you're not alone--that the average American gains one to two pounds a year after age thirty--usually around the stomach. Not only does this excess belly fat make you look and feel bad, it's the most damaging kind of fat; a precursor to heart attacks and certain types of cancer.
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.
There are no wrong ways to eat a Reese’s. Feasting rituals, research suggests, are a form of “mindful eating,” which has the power to make food more pleasurable, and may help prevent overeating. Pleasure, according to research in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, catalyzes the relaxation response, promoting parasympathetic and digestive activities. In other words, you’ll metabolize dessert faster if you really, really enjoy eating it. In one study, participants who were assigned to eat a chocolate bar in accordance with a particular breaking and unwrapping ritual found the candy much more enjoyable—and even more flavorful—than a group who ate the bar informally.
Sure, summer is all about the flat belly—hello bikini season!—but why not tone some other parts of your body while you’re at it? By pairing split lunges with bicep curls you’ll be giving your legs, abs, and arms a workout. Mark, who advises doing this exercise with 1-liter water bottles, says, “Even though you aren’t actively moving your abs, they play a huge role in keeping your spine upright during this exercise, so please make sure you keep them engaged throughout the entire movement. This one makes your entire body tremble—so get ready!”
The next time you’re making a salad or eating some yogurt, add some almonds to the dish. Not only will the nuts add a nice crunch to your food, but their high protein and fiber content makes them ideal for weight loss. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/4/1/e000993.full found that consuming 1.5 ounces of almonds daily (as opposed to a carb dense muffin) along with a heart-healthy diet, helped to improve cholesterol and lipid profiles among the research participants. The study also found that eating almonds reduces belly fat, too.
"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.
Getting rid of belly fat isn't just about fitting into skinny jeans—research shows that people with less visceral belly fat (the fat that surrounds your organs) have a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So not only will losing fat help you look and feel better, it will also help ward off dangerous health issues. While there isn't one magic food that will melt away belly fat, studies have reported certain foods have special belly-fat-burning benefits, such as avocado, artichokes, whole grains, kefir, green tea, eggs, peanuts and chickpeas. These foods work in different ways to help shrink fat cells and decrease waist circumference. This 7-day meal plan incorporates these flat-belly foods, plus vegetables, whole grains, fruits and healthy fats and protein, in delicious ways to help make it easier to lose belly fat and feel great.
Essentially, that meal plan involves eating plenty of leafy greens and fiber-rich vegetables, as well as high-fiber, low-sugar fruits, like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and pears. He also recommends two to three servings of whole grains per day, as well as six to seven servings of protein — with a preference for nuts, legumes, fish, and dairy over beef, pork, and chicken.