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.

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.
Our muscles are habitual of storing a kind of carbohydrate known as glycogen. This stored carbohydrate is only consumed when our body does some extra exercise. When we get rid of carbs, we can actually access this stored fuel and consume it off. For this avoid consuming carbs after lunch and substitute with low-carb food so that no new fat is stored.
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.
So cook up some oatmeal—and top it with some fruit. What's so magical about this combination? Each provides insoluble fiber that helps reduce blood cholesterol and feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. By doing so, you trigger your gut to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that reduces fat-causing inflammation throughout your body. In a Canadian study, researchers discovered that those whose diets were supplemented with insoluble fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—a hormone that controls hunger. (Try these two-minute oatmeal recipes that'll make you an oatmeal fan forever.)
Eating eggs is a low-cost way to incorporate belly fat-fighting protein into your diet. Studies show those who ate two eggs for breakfast lost 65% more weight than those who opted for a carby bagel, so start your day with a MUFA-packed scramble or take a hard boiled egg for a slimming midday snack. (Start the day off right with these 10 belly-flattening breakfasts.)
The best part? Instead of cranking out dozens of crunches, we’re about to make-under your ab routine. For the first two weeks, do two to three circuits of the first four moves; together they hit all four ab muscle groups. “You’ll reach your goal faster if your workout builds on intensity and total reps done over time,” Olson explains. These moves get a little harder and the reps get higher for week three, plus there’s an exercise added in. Same for week four, except this time you’ll add two more moves to your session. By that week, expect two to three circuits of seven moves with the max challenge and reps. No sweat—you’ll be ready.
Yup, this means all the “secret ab routines” you see about targeting certain abs (Upper abs! Lower abs! Obliques!) mean diddly-squat about getting rid of the fat on top of those muscles – those are only necessary when you are at a low bodyfat percentage. Which means you can stop doing 10 different ab exercises to hit the different muscles in your stomach. It’s not a good use of your 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.
Boxing also gives you a cardio workout that burns extra calories. Add 16 minutes of boxing three times a week to your regular cardio routine (30 minutes at high intensity four to five times a week), and you can lose up to 2 inches from your waist in four weeks. Simply throw punches while holding 1- or 2-pound weights for 8 minutes, alternating arms, then repeat without weights at a faster pace for 8 more minutes."
No matter what, do not miss that snack. It's important because it boosts metabolism and balances blood sugar. The lower you keep your blood sugar, the lower you keep your insulin, and insulin makes you store fat around your middle. Eating every three to four hours will keep your blood sugar even, but many people tend to go five or six hours between lunch and dinner without eating."
Snacks are an important part of your weight-reducing diet because they provide a boost of energy in the midafternoon and aid in hunger control. A healthy snack option might include a small orange with 1 ounce of mozzarella cheese, a container of fat-free yogurt with 3/4 cup of blueberries, or six whole-grain crackers with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. Each snack option contains about 150 calories.

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.
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