"When you're frazzled, your body increases its production of steroids and stress hormones, which negatively affect your digestive system, causing major constipation," says Dr. Reichman. And as if that weren't enough to leave you looking pouchy, stress also amps up the production of cortisol, a "fight or flight" hormone that sends excess fat directly to your midsection in its attempt to protect your vital organs. To minimize tension, Dr. Reichman advises taking 20 minutes a day to relax.
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.
That means Pink Lady over Granny Smith, watermelon over honeydew, red grapes over green ones. The higher levels of nutrients called flavonoids—particularly anthocyanins, compounds that give red fruits their color—calm the action of fat-storage genes. In fact, red-bellied stone fruits like plums boast phenolic compounds that have been shown to modulate the expression of fat genes. To learn more about turning on and off your fat genes, check out the essential list: 21 Nutrition Myths—Busted!
Get more "bang" for your ab-exercise "buck." Ideally, instead of focusing on muscle-toning exercises that target only your abdominals, you should seek out alternatives that utilize other muscle groups as well. They often require more exertion, which can help with fat burning. Also, additional muscle tone in the back, chest, shoulders, legs, etc. can improve posture and otherwise help make your belly appear slimmer.
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.
Ever since my divorce three years ago, I have felt as if someone was pumping up a spare tire around my middle. I used to wear size 6 pants, and now I can barely squeeze into size 10. I swear I'm not eating any more than I did five years ago. If anything, I eat less. Even though I go to the gym and walk on a treadmill at least five hours a week, this fat around my belly just won't budge.
Replace your candy and cookie jars on the kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruits and containers of nuts. Stock your fridge with chopped veggies and hummus for a quick and healthy snack. This way they’re more readily available, and you have no excuses to grab a bag of chips, right? Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, the dietitian to the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, likes having washed and prepared cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where you can see them. To discover more healthy foods that will help you lose weight, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body.
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.
"Researchers are now discovering that gut bacteria also seem to play a role in the complex process of weight loss and weight gain," he writes. "We don't know exactly how much impact our Little Buddies have on our weight, but we're learning enough to believe that understanding the connection more fully may help us as we confront the obesity epidemic in the United States — and in our own bodies."