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.
Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it's taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the Endocrine Society. Worse, that weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Instead, the researchers found, the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythms, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun.
Want a flatter stomach in two seconds? Stand up straight! Slouching emphasizes belly rolls but straightening your spine elongates your whole body, making you look taller and sleeker. Want to go even flatter for a picture? Use the old modeling trick and arch your back slightly—this will pull your skin tighter across your stomach while moving it farther away from the camera, making it look slightly smaller. Yeah, it’s a temporary fix but good posture offers many health benefits beyond looking good.
Dark chocolate is packed with MUFAs—or monounsaturated fatty acids—that help your body burn belly fat. Dark chocolate is also filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries. It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, according to a study from Denmark. Try a chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. Get your fix in these 10 Guilt-Free Chocolate Desserts.
Step two is to get some calorie-burning cardio exercise. Of course you've already heard that pointer often, but Weltman takes this idea one step further, noting that high-intensity aerobic exercise is even more effective at burning off visceral fat than the same amount of low-intensity exercise. In one study, he had overweight women walk or jog five times a week; one group worked out for a longer amount of time at a low intensity, while the other did shorter stints of high-intensity work. Even though each group burned the exact same number of calories in each workout, the high-intensity group melted off more visceral fat. "We speculate that there's a relation between the intensity of the workout and the amount of growth hormone released, which is a powerful mobilizer of visceral fat," Weltman says.
Sure, trampolines are built for kids, but as an adult using one for rebounding is a great way to flatten your tummy. “Not only is it a great cardio workout (which is the first step to tightening up your midsection) but it makes your core work like crazy so you are getting the cardio plus the toning,” explains Hope Pedraza, a Certified Personal Trainer through American College of Sports Medicine “Everything you need for a tight tummy!” To get a comprehensive workout using a mini trampoline, Hope suggests jumping, lifting your knees up high, twisting, adding some light weights to move around while you’re jumping, and moving in all directions in different planes.
The last protein you’ll be cooking this week is another lean meat, pork tenderloin. Congratulations! You made it through the week without red meat! The average American eats about 3.3 oz of red meat per day. Eating too much red meat has been linked to chronic, inflammation, heart problems, cancer, and an unhealthy gut, so our flat-belly plan eschews the stuff. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it, though! Experts recommend having only 3 servings of red meat a week—but make sure it’s grass-fed beef, not grain-fed. This source is teeming with heart-healthy omega-3s and fat-burning conjugated linoleic fatty acids. It’s also lower in inflammatory saturated fats.
In this book, we look at all of the ways you can improve your own gut health, starting with the food you eat. My diet recommendations, meal plans, and recipes will help feed and protect your gut microbes. And we look at the many other steps you can take to support your beneficial bacteria, from avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to changing the way you think about dirt and germs. Even the choices you make about how you bring your children into the world can have an impact on your family’s microbiomes.