Sugary treats, while obviously delicious, aren't very good for our bodies—and that includes our tummies. Not only do the added calories add inches to our waistlines, but sugar overload leads to insulin resistance, which tells the body to store extra fat around the waist. But that's long-term stuff. Sugar also bloats your tummy in the short-term by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to extra gas. When it comes to flattening your belly, nixing sugar is one of the best things you can do. Here are clear signs you're eating too much sugar.
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.
Contrary to the popular belief that estrogen is solely a female hormone, men can also be estrogen dominant. In men, progesterone is produced in the adrenal and testicular tissue. When men reach their forties, falling progesterone levels lead to a fall in testosterone levels. As both the progesterone and testosterone levels decline, the male body becomes estrogen dominant. To find out if estrogen dominance is responsible for your increased belly fat—and possibly a host of other physical, mental, and emotional concerns and health risks—continue reading. Chapter 2 will help you to understand how age, body fat, and environmental toxins can join forces to sabotage your inner hormonal equilibrium.
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For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your belly will carry almost 4% less fat. Thankfully, there are more enjoyable ways to increase your fiber than scarfing down a box of bran flakes: Two apples, ½ cup of pinto beans, 1 artichoke, or 2 cups of broccoli will all give you 10 grams of belly-flattening fiber. Here are 6 more tasty ways to get your 10 g.
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!
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.
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.
The good news, according to Weltman, is that high intensity — the level at which you feel the effort and can no longer hold a conversation — is different for each person. "You may have to run to get to that level, while someone else may just have to jog or walk," he explains. "It all depends on your level of fitness, but the great thing is, you can do it whether you're a competitive athlete or just starting out."
As part of the Flat Belly Plan, have an anti-inflammatory snack in the afternoon. Snacks should be rich in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that help curb inflammation. They're the natural compounds that give berries and other fruits their vibrant color. Try a sliced yellow bell pepper with hummus or a bowl of mixed berries drizzled with dark chocolate. Click here for more anti-inflammatory food suggestions.
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.
Losing weight can be just as hard emotionally and physically. Remembering why you started your weight-loss journey can help lift your spirits when you’re down and motivate you to stick with it when you want to throw in the towel. “Take a moment each morning to remember what you’re working for—whether it be improved energy so you can play with your children or a longer happier life,” says Dyan Tsiumis, who dropped more than 70 pounds before becoming a personal trainer. “When you focus on all the good that will come from all of your hard work, it’s easier to stay on track,” she adds.
Seated medicine ball twists are a great way to get a toned midsection because they target your obliques while also engaging your abdominals and lower back muscles. When doing this exercise, Mark advises people to keep their feet on the ground. “This one is all about form, so keep your feet on the ground, lean back just enough to feel an engagement in your abdominals, and make a nice full turn with your shoulders,” he explains, noting you should feel that satisfying core burn in no time.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cook down ½ large onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 package of chopped spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil until onions are tender. In a separate bowl, combine three-quarters of a pound of lean ground turkey with a third of a cup of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, and then the cooled onion and spinach. Season with salt, pepper, dried thyme and oregano, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Combine with hands, and use two-thirds of the mixture to form 12 small meatballs.
Sylvia's age, weight gain, and mild depression were common indicators of an underlying hormonal imbalance, specifically estrogen dominance. I told Sylvia that I could help her without diet pills or antidepressants. After following the plan for six weeks, she walked into the office a changed woman. She had lost nine pounds and an inch and a half from her waist. Within ten weeks, she celebrated with a shopping spree for new size 8 pants. In my practice, I have helped thousands of people like Sylvia, people who had no idea that shifting hormone production was the hidden culprit causing their weight gain.
Lower your sodium intake. Sodium causes your body to retain water, which causes you to look bloated — especially around your abdominal region. Whenever possible, try replacing high-sodium foods with healthier options. Switch regular table salt for kosher or sea salt, which is lower in sodium. Some foods high in sodium include soy sauce, restaurant meals, MSG, cured meats like pepperoni and salami, ham, bacon, sauces, and snack foods.
You likely don’t think you’re eating air, but talking while noshing, drinking from a straw, and chewing gum can all cause air to accumulate in your stomach, making it expand over your waistband. In addition to breaking those bad habits, taking smaller bites can also help you keep the air out, says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, R.D., author of The Belly Fat Fix and a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
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.