As this video from the PictureFit YouTube channel explains, the only guaranteed way to get a flat stomach is through—brace yourself—diet and exercise. To be more precise, you need to use up the fat you have stored around your abs. But because spot reducing is a myth, you’ll have to focus on reducing the fat throughout your entire body. To do that, you’ll need to burn more calories than you put in every day, but it’s more complicated than “eat less, move more.” You need to eat fewer carbs while increasing your lean protein intake. Why? Your body will try to burn carbs for energy first, but if you haven’t ingested many carb-heavy foods, your body will target fat for energy instead. Plus, protein makes you feel full longer. You also need to incorporate resistance training in your workouts to keep yourself from losing muscle mass in addition to fat (more muscle means burning more calories naturally). Low intensity cardio training can help with burning more calories each day, but it won’t help you retain muscle, so make sure it’s not the only thing you do.
For your dinner tonight—as well as for lunch and dinner for the next couple days—you’ll be making a super simple roasted chicken breast with roasted veggies and quinoa. Chicken is a versatile, lean protein that’s rich in selenium—a mineral that keeps your skin glowing and your metabolism running properly. Quinoa is an ancient grain that’s touted for its micronutrients, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and antioxidants, like fat-burning quercetin. And, of course, we’re getting in a rainbow of veggies to reap the unique properties of each.
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.
This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to sunlight in between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you're exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores, instead of from the food you ate. But what really stunned Martha was the improvement in her heart health. Before starting Zero Belly Diet, Martha's heart rate would typically soar to 112 beats per minute (bpm) within moments of starting her exercise bike workout. "After the first week and a half I could not raise my heart rate over 96 bpm with the same workout. It was great to see change in the mirror, and even better to know good things were happening that I couldn't even see."
C.W. Randolph, M.D., graduated from Auburn University's School of Pharmacy and received his medical degree at Louisiana State University's School of Medicine. In 2000, Dr. Randolph attended Columbia University Medical School where he completed an intensivetraining in the field of integrated medicine under Andrew Weill, M.D. He is a frequent speaker at medical organizations and is the coauthor of From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well.
Rather than scarfing down meals, make a point of chewing each bite at least 10 times before swallowing. "The body has to work overtime to break down food in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to major gas and indigestion," Dr. Reichman says. Plus, when you eat fast, you're more prone to swallowing air, which can ratchet up your risk of feeling a little puffy.
I have a question on doing the Double Leg Lifts. I’m about to start Day 7. Ever since day one whenever I try to do the DLLs, moving my legs down, I get this arch in my back. When I get this arch unless I’m holding onto something as a kind of counterweight I can’t lift my legs back up. I still use my core to bring my legs back up, but it seems impossible without holding onto something like a door frame.
But regardless of how tight your ab muscles are, they can't erase belly fat that lies above (subcutaneous) or below them (visceral fat). Those you'll have to burn off—and according to Olson's research, the best belly fat-melting method is Tabata intervals. Maximum-effort cardio intervals raise your level of adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone that's the secret sauce to burning fat.
Seated medicine ball twists are a great way to get a toned midsection because they target your obliques while also engaging your abdominals and lower back muscles. When doing this exercise, Mark advises people to keep their feet on the ground. “This one is all about form, so keep your feet on the ground, lean back just enough to feel an engagement in your abdominals, and make a nice full turn with your shoulders,” he explains, noting you should feel that satisfying core burn in no time.
Carbohydrates take water to metabolize, and too much fluid can make you feel bloated, Henderiks says. But that doesn’t mean you have to ban all carbs from your diet. Opt for complex, starchy, and fiber-filled ones such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, legumes, oats, leafy greens, and asparagus, which are more slowly digested, and try to limit your daily tally to about 200 grams.
Cruciferous veggies are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, but unfortunately they're also the ones most likely to cause your tummy to inflate. Thanks to raffinose, a compound that produces extra gas as it breaks down, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and the like can seriously increase your waistline. But don't ditch them forever. Just save them for meals where you can wear loose pants. Here are other surprising foods that cause gas.
Cat Kick: Stand with feet together, arms extended out like airplane wings. Exhale, and lift the right leg forward and up. At the same time, sweep the arms forward at shoulder level and round the spine, like a cat. The navel should feel as though it's pressing toward the spine. Inhale, and open back up and return to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg, alternating for 20 repetitions.
While no crunch in and of itself will get rid of belly fat, abdominal exercises are the “finishing moves” to sculpt the abs once you’ve removed excess fat via diet and exercise, Holland says. Spend the majority of your workout focusing on the rest of your body, and dedicate no more than 10 percent of your time on abs work. So if you work out for an hour, plan six minutes of abs exercises and give the rest of your time to strength training and/or cardio.
Another metabolism-boosting tip: Eat every three to four hours, and that should include making time for breakfast. Research shows that people who miss a morning meal experience a surge in a hunger-related hormone later in the day. Regular snacks (which should include fiber-filled complex carbs and protein!) will keep you feeling full and your body burning cals at a steady rate.
For a flat belly, put down the chips and cookies and snack on some air-popped popcorn instead. The air-popped stuff doesn’t have the salt and fat that comes with unhealthy microwave popcorn that’s usually doused in butter, and it’s also an excellent source satiating fiber and protein. In fact, one cup of popcorn popped fresh in olive oil and lightly salted has 2 g of fiber, one g of protein, and is only 40 calories. To add some flavor to the tasty, low-calorie treat, make use of metabolism-boosting spices such as cinnamon or cayenne pepper. For more ways to boost your fiber intake, check out The 43 Best Foods for Fiber!
Salt, in moderation, is a good thing—the mineral is necessary for a healthy heart and brain. But too much salt and you'll retain water, bloating up like a water balloon. Cutting salt is one of the primary ways to drop extra water weight (one reason you may see a big weight loss when starting a new diet!). Move the salt shaker off your table so you'll get out of the habit of routinely salting all your food. Then if you taste your food and still really want salt you can still stand up and get some. For more weight loss benefits, add these fat-burning foods your plate.
Target your deepest ab muscles with The Boat: Lie face up on a mat with arms by your sides. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine and reaching arms forward. At the same time, raise your legs so that you're balancing on your butt, knees bent and shins parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs and arms. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Though it's been months since its debut, the book continually spikes on Amazon's Movers and Shakers list — its roundup of the top-selling products across the site — and it's currently listed as the No. 1 bestseller in the Diet Books category. Naturally, this begs the question: What's all the hype about? Aside from the famous author — and the fact that the title suggests fixing a problem just about every human struggles with (just look at search traffic for "flat belly" and "flat stomach" exercises). Is it all just marketing hype?