Spanx are maybe no one's idea of a good time, but sometimes you just need a little extra (firm) help to flatten your tummy to wear your favorite dress or for a special evening out. And there's nothing wrong with turning to technology to help you get there. Body shaping undergarments have come a long way in the past few years with more breathable fabrics and styles for both men and women.
Fennel, peppermint, and ginger have all been shown in research studies to have calming effects on the belly. They work by enhancing digestive enzymes so your food gets moved through your system faster. And faster-moving food means a flatter tummy. In addition, peppermint reduces cramping and gas, ginger helps with nausea and inflammation, and fennel is a diuretic to help you stop retaining water. Here are other home remedies to help an upset stomach.
Let’s start with a reality check — despite the claims of the fad diets and belly-busting exercises out there, you can’t target fat loss. If you want a flatter stomach, you need to reduce your overall body fat level with a low-calorie, high-nutrition diet and regular calorie-burning exercise. You probably won’t be able to achieve washboard abs in a month, but you can establish new, healthier habits that will benefit your belly and the rest of your body.
Know your anatomy. Familiarize yourself with the muscle groups that make up your abdominal area. If you understand how the muscles work, it will be easier to use them properly when you exercise. Then plan a smart abdominal workout to complete at least three times per week. It doesn't have to last longer than 10-15 minutes, but it should include exercises to work the internal and external obliques on the sides of your torso as well as exercises to work the rectus abdominis, which runs down the middle of your midsection and defines your six-pack.
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Chewing gum when you’re hungry fills your tummy with extra air, causing bloat. Many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, which can lead to bloating. Skip the gum altogether or opt for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
Start each day by making a large pitcher of "spa water"—that's water filled with sliced whole lemons, oranges, or grapefruits—and make a point of sipping your way through at least eight glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant D-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization. For added belly-blasting benefits, brew yourself a pot of green tea, one of the five best teas for weight loss.
Sodium is a big culprit of bloat by causing your body to retain water, but potassium helps counterbalance that salt—here are some other causes of bloating to know about. “By eating more potassium, you can help reduce bloating,” says Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. Slice banana into your yogurt, or scramble up eggs with tomato and spinach, which are other good sources of potassium.
Yep, you read that right. High-water foods like fruits and veggies will fill you up faster, says Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Start your meal with soup, salad, or her favorite pick: Pre-dinner sliced crudité and spicy hummus. The combo of capsaicin (a spice in hot peppers) and the chickpeas' soluble fiber can help curb hunger.
With the weather getting warmer it’s the perfect time to go for a walk or run, but remember to vary your speeds. Why, you ask? Research has shown it will help you shrink your belly. In a Danish study reported by the American Diabetes Association, two groups of people with type 2 diabetes were put on a walking program. One group walked at a steady speed, while the other group varied their walking speed. After four months, the interval-training group lost eight more pounds than the steady walkers. Even better, the walkers who changed up their speeds lost visceral belly fat and improved their blood sugar control.
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.