Ask a woman struggling to lose weight, where does she want the weight to come off first, and I can promise you that she is more than like to say the tummy! This is especially true if you are talking to a woman who has had a baby. For most of us, a flat tummy makes us look slimmer, more proportionate, taller and ultimately more attractive. And the clothes fit better too!
Think of your ab muscles as the meat in the middle of a fat sandwich. On top of them is subcutaneous fat, the stuff you pinch as you look in the mirror. Below them is visceral fat, which is the type that takes up residence next to your internal organs — in excessive amounts if you continually overdo it on calories and experience too much pent-up stress. "When you fill up those subcutaneous areas, fat winds up getting stored where it shouldn't, in your deep abdomen or your liver," explains Arthur Weltman, PhD, exercise physiology professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Visceral fat has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, he notes.
Remember when you ate the rest of the holiday cookies after a big, rich meal, and still felt hungry the next day? That's because prolonged periods of overeating—hello, like the holidays!—make your stomach's network of stretch receptors (the ones that send messages to your brain that you're full) less sensitive. Short-circuit your post-binge appetite by eating healthy portions of low-calorie, high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They'll keep those receptors satisfied without directing you toward the leftover pies.
Try the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week. For an additional challenge, perform planks with forearms on the floor, as shown. (Watch this video to make sure you're neailing the proper form every time.)
Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, the heart-healthy compounds in chocolate, that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content. We like Nibmor Extreme Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs.
Carbohydrates hold water in your body, which may make your belly bloat. Plus, high-carb, high-sugar breakfast foods like bagels or cereal might fill you up initially, but you’ll probably end up searching for more food within an hour, says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. “Those digest pretty rapidly, and then your blood sugar spikes up and drops back down pretty quickly because they digest so fast,” she says. That extra morning munching will likely add up to more calories and bloat than you would have had if you’d started with a more filling breakfast. Be sure to follow these other daily habits that reduce bloating and flatten your belly, too.
Take off your “fat jacket.” It’s a simple analogy, but helps make the point about the types of exercise that offer the best results for fat reduction and, in turn, a flatter stomach. Think of your body’s layer of fat covering your stomach (and elsewhere) as a “jacket” (one of its purposes, after all, is to hold in body heat). Your exercise goal is to shed that jacket.
That depends. It doesn’t matter how hard you train your abs if you have fat lying on top. Cardio gets rid of that fat, but if you’re already thin with a low body fat percentage and/or have a fast metabolism it’s unlikely that you will need it. If you do have fat and want to do cardio, first decide what kind of cardio you’d like to do (steady state vs. HIIT). For steady state I’d recommend something like 5 times a week, but for HIIT I’d recommend no more than 4 times a week (every other day). If your HIIT workouts are under 12 minutes then feel free to do them more times a week.
Shernice, yes just do one set of the given workouts each day. It may seem like Day 30 would be too easy for you (I can already do it too), but the point is that you’ll be working your abs EVERYDAY on top of your regular workout. I usually only have one dedicated ab day each week, but incorporating more ab exercises in our daily life will make them stronger by the end of the month. Do the challenge, focus on good form, and have fun! :)
Maintaining your weight loss is all about balance, you should try to follow the 80/20 rule. Focus 80 percent of the time on eating healthy, belly-friendly foods that shrink the waistline and fight inflammation. Then 20 percent of the time, you have room to veer off track a bit. This 20 percent is your splurge. You may choose to have one day a week where you have a splurge meal, or you may opt for a small snack twice a week where you don’t exactly make the healthiest choice.
WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
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.