Think of it this way — if you were wearing a light jacket, would the type of exercise you are doing make you want to take it off? You want to choose aerobic exercises that warm your body enough that you’d want to shed a real jacket — brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, and so on. Cardiovascular exercises of this sort can burn enough calories to require your body to draw energy from (and thus “shed”) your “fat jacket.”
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.
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.

Begin in downward facing dog. Extend your left leg up to the ceiling, pointing your toes. Shift your weight forward and begin to lower your hips into a plank pose but instead of putting your left toes down, bend your left knee into your chest, lifting your abs into your spine during the entire movement. Press your hips back up and extend your left leg behind you as you return to downward facing dog. Repeat 10 times with the left leg, 10 with the right.
Just don't wait until you blow the tape-measure test to start defending your belly from this flab. Step one is to toss the trans fats, which are found in prepackaged treats under the alias partially hydrogenated oils and have been shown to pack on body fat, particularly in the abdomen. Replace them with monounsaturated fats — for example, olive oil and those in walnuts and avocados — which help your body metabolize belly fat. And swig some reduced-fat milk, like 1 percent or skim, while you're at it: Calcium increases the activity of enzymes that break down fat cells and reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers your body to hoard belly fat.

Sugary treats, while obviously delicious, aren't very good for our bodies—and that includes our tummies. Not only do the added calories add inches to our waistlines, but sugar overload leads to insulin resistance, which tells the body to store extra fat around the waist. But that's long-term stuff. Sugar also bloats your tummy in the short-term by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to extra gas. When it comes to flattening your belly, nixing sugar is one of the best things you can do. Here are clear signs you're eating too much sugar.


Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called "the belly fat" hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn't good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it's important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn't? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)

When it comes to ab flab, there are two ways to tackle the problem: Either burn blubber or suck it in with stronger muscles. "Even if you don't lose fat, you can improve your waistline by toning your muscles," says Michele Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama.
Simply put, artificial sweeteners cause belly fat. A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity. In the study of older adults, researchers found those who drank diet soda each day experienced more than triple the increase in waist size over the course of nine years, so put down the Diet Coke and don’t even think about reaching for some Equal to put in your morning coffee.
I understood how she felt. Obesity shortened my own father's life, and for most of my childhood, I struggled with an extra 25 pounds as well. I figured it was my genetic destiny to be fat, too. But then I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I've made it my life's work to learn everything there is to know about belly fat. But nothing in my 20 years of health journalism has prepared me for the groundbreaking research that has emerged in just the last year—new science that shows exactly how we can turn off our fat genes and lose weight almost automatically.

Your body can retain water when your sodium and potassium levels are out of whack, Bannan says. In addition to keeping sodium in check, consume potassium-rich foods to maintain the balance and de-puff your belly. Try incorporating 1 medium baked potato without skin (610mg), 1/2 cup white beans (595mg), 1 cup cooked spinach (839mg), 10 dates (466mg), or 1 cup edamame (676mg) daily.


Dr. Travis Stork is an Emmy®-nominated host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors, and a board-certified emergency medicine physician. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned his M.D. with honors from the University of Virginia, being elected into the prestigious honor society of Alpha Omega Alpha for outstanding academic achievement. Based on his experiences as an ER physician, Dr. Stork is passionate about teaching people simple methods to prevent illness before it happens with the goal of maximizing time spent enjoying life while minimizing time spent as a "patient." Dr. Stork is a New York Times #1 bestselling author of “The Doctor’s Diet,” “The Doctor’s Diet Cookbook,” “The Lean Belly Prescription,” and “The Doctor Is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness.” An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Stork is a devotee of mountain and road biking, whitewater kayaking and hiking with his 15 year old dog, Nala.

A recent study found that those who ate three yogurts a day while dieting lost 81% more belly fat than people who didn't eat yogurt. All study participants were directed to eat 500 calories less per day. As part of the Flat Belly Plan, you should eat about 6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt before every meal. Why? It's thought that calcium can help stop fat from entering your cells, improve your body’s ability to break down fat and help your body carry out fat through your bowel movements.
Out-of-whack hormones have all kinds of uncomfortable side effects and belly bloat is one of them. There's a reason that bloating is one of the primary complaints women have during menopause! While you can't turn back the clock and reclaim the hormone profile of your 20's, you can make sure you're within the normal range—something your doctor can check for you. (Before your appointment, know these signs of a thyroid disorder). In the meantime, eating right and exercising are natural ways to balance your hormones.

A recent study revealed that when women who were unhappy with their weight completed a one-time, 15-minute writing exercise about an important personal issue, they went on to lose at least three pounds over a three-month period. On the other hand, their counterparts who wrote about an unimportant topic gained three pounds, according to Cheryl Forberg, author of A Small Guide to Losing.
Not only does drinking water prevent you from misinterpreting thirst signals as hunger, but contrary to popular belief, it actually can reduce water weight. Staying well hydrated will help you digest and flush out the sodium holding water in, giving you a flatter belly. “A lot of people refrain from drinking more water if they’re bloated, but you actually do want to continue drinking more water throughout the day,” says Armul. “It helps restore fluid balance.” Here are more things experts wish you knew about water weight.
Whether you’re sleeping in or up before the sun, a yogurt parfait is the perfect way to start your Sunday. Packed with protein and slow-digesting fiber, this perfectly-portioned parfait will certainly tide you over until your late lunch or brunch—providing you with long-lasting energy that will help prevent the spikes in blood sugar your typical sugary bowl of cereal would give you. That’s why this is one of our favorite healthy breakfast ideas.
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.

With our new 21-Day Tummy plan, you will be eating more anti-inflammatory foods, especially those rich in magnesium, and fewer carb-dense foods and FODMAPs (rapidly fermentable carbohydrates that can aggravate your gut). This plan helped my fellow testers and me shrink our stomachs (by up to 4 1/2 inches in one case!) and ease our tummy troubles. At least two people stopped taking prescription drugs for heartburn entirely, and GI symptoms disappeared completely for several testers.
Avocados are a double-whammy to belly fat. First, they're packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that dim your hunger switches; a study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. Second, unsaturated fats like those found in avocados seem to prevent the storage of belly fat. (These creative ways to eat avocado will help you up your intake.)
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.
I’m looking for advice please. I had a c section 12 weeks ago and was cleared for exercise at week 6. I wasn’t given any help from the doc who said no crunches but definitely start Pilate’s again. I made sure to tell her my exercise plans. I have a very small abdominal separation (!less than 3 fingers). I’m looking to the mommas on here. Are there exercises on here safe for me? What should I stay away from? Please help me I really Want to lose the weight. Also I was they didn’t cut any muscle but instead pulled it apart.
My personal opinion from research and working out the past few months. You do not have to do three sets. Because technically each exercise is one set when it comes to abs. BUT, when working out you need to push yourself! If you do not feel it after, which I can see being possible the first week with such low amount of reps, then you do it again! If you are pushing yourself, then no matter what you do, you’re doing it right.
It's not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that's published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.
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