What causes it? Your genes, for one thing. "Some families just carry most of their weight in their bellies, no matter how thin they are," says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., author of The MD Factor Diet. But visceral fat gets worse for all of us as we get older, especially if we're under a lot of stress or not sleeping well, says nutritionist Sara Vance, author of The Perfect Metabolism Plan. That's thanks to hormones that make us hungrier even as our bodies are practically hoarding fat.
WHAT'S GOING ON: There are two kinds of belly fat: There's the stuff right under your skin that you can pinch (ugh), called subcutaneous fat. But that's actually the less harmful kind. It's visceral fat that poses a real threat to your health. It plumps your middle from the inside out, surrounding organs such as your liver, lungs, and heart—and putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Kristen Gill Hairston, M.D., an endocrinologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.
We know pasta is a weeknight staple, which is why we had to include it in our meal plan. But instead of using refined, inflammation-inducing white-flour pasta, we’re using a spaghetti squash. It’s just one of our favorite pasta tips to stay skinny because not only is its glycemic index lower than spaghetti, it’s also higher in micronutrients like vitamin A, folic acid, and potassium.
Incorporate strength training. While it's true you'll need to lose the fat over your abdominals so that your muscle tone can show through, don't rely on cardio alone to get the job done. Muscle will help reshape your body and allow you to actually burn calories while your body is at rest, not just when you're hitting the gym. Studies show that those who lift weights have a lower fat mass percentage than those who do aerobic exercise alone.
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."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Take the oats out of the pot and pour into a resealable container. For this morning, combine a cup of oats, a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (includes nutmeg, cloves, and ginger), half a banana (sliced), about 5 chopped walnuts, and a quarter cup of almond milk, or your milk of choice. Place in the microwave for a minute, stir, and enjoy!
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. In the meantime, eating right and exercising are natural ways to balance your hormones.
Before hitting the hay, prepare breakfast for half of the week tonight! This recipe makes enough for 4 breakfasts, of which we’re only using 3 servings this week, so you can finish the last serving next Sunday (just throw a portion in the freezer tomorrow to keep it fresh)! We’re using the overnight oats method to cut down on time since we’ve chosen to use one of the longer-cooking oats, steel-cut. They might take longer to prepare, but steel-cut oats are one of the best cuts out there. They’re lower on the glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, meaning they’ll keep you fuller, longer. These oats are also loaded with vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin), which are so important, the government usually enriches your cereal with them!
Just like vegetables, this can be as simple or as complex as you want it. Maybe you’re just making sure there’s a protein source at each meal (if it was lacking before). Maybe you’re figuring out rough portion sizes. Maybe you’re taking it to the max and actually weighing your food. The point is, you should be including it throughout the day and week.
Do aerobic exercises daily. Sure, you can do 100 crunches a day, but if you've got a layer of belly fat covering up your ab work then what's the point? You need to burn the top layer of stomach fat to see the changes. Cardio exercises will heat up your core temperature and improve circulation, both of which will aid in acquiring a flat stomach. Strive for at least 30 minutes a day minimum, but include 1-2 days of rest each week.
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.
Slouch and your stomach pooches. Straighten up, and your tummy looks trimmer without breaking a sweat! For better posture, align your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and knees over ankles. Keep your shoulders open like a shirt on a hanger, not one draped on a peg. Draw your navel to your spine. Not least, keep your weight even on the balls of your feet and your heels.
Another imbalance that plagues the abs is between the obliques, the muscles that cinch your sides. You have two sets on both your right and left, and if you show them love, they'll give you a nice hourglass shape. Sadly, your left obliques start out at a disadvantage, says Hahn. Blame your heart, which takes up extra space and makes the obliques difficult to tone—an issue that's compounded if you're right-handed. "Think about where your mouse pad is," says Hahn. "Then you shake hands, change the radio station in the car—you do so much with your right side, making it stronger."
Research shows the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily, often hidden in processed foods, including “healthy” ones such as yogurt, frozen dinners, sauces, and salad dressings. Twenty teaspoons adds up to 325 empty calories a day, and insulin production increases with sugar intake, which can slow your metabolism, making it harder to burn those empty calories. Read labels and try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
Plank: Start on your hands and knees and come up into a push-up plank position, balancing on hands (or elbows) and toes (or knees). Align wrists under shoulders; keep your back straight and the abs and glutes tight (to keep the back from sagging). Hold the position and breathe out for 10 seconds, exhaling to tighten the abs and draw the navel to the spine.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cook down ½ large onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 package of chopped spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil until onions are tender. In a separate bowl, combine three-quarters of a pound of lean ground turkey with a third of a cup of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, and then the cooled onion and spinach. Season with salt, pepper, dried thyme and oregano, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Combine with hands, and use two-thirds of the mixture to form 12 small meatballs.
Peterson is a fan of Chaturanga Dandasana—a.k.a. yoga pushup—for the extension and isometric contraction it provides: From plank, bend your elbows and begin lowering toward the floor, with every part of your body an equal distance from the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body, abs engaged (not clenched), back straight, thigh muscles active, and glutes soft. Start by holding the pose above the floor for 5 full, complete breaths, and work up to 10. Push back up to plank in 4 counts. Do 4 reps every other day.
Bloating isn't all in your head. It IS possible to carry extra water weight in your tummy. To beat the bloat, decrease your sodium intake to no more than 2000 mg a day and increase your water consumption. It's easy to start monitoring your sodium intake by reading food labels. Limiting the amount of sodium you consume will help you reduce your water retention and look leaner in your clothes.
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Brace your abs in tight and press through your heels to bridge your hips off the floor. Keeping your hips lifted and square, extend your left leg up to the ceiling, foot flexed. Sweep your left leg to the right, passing the midline of your body and then sweep back out to the left, slightly past your left hip. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times (back and forth) with the left leg, and then switch legs and repeat 10 more times before lowering out of bridge.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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.
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.
Want a flatter stomach? Look in your glass—milk and soda are two major causes of tummy inflation. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, which means that your glass of warm milk before bed may be the reason you wake up with too-tight pajamas. These are signs you might be lactose intolerant. And when it comes to soda, both regular and diet are belly busters both from the sweeteners used and the carbonation. Try eliminating these from your diet and see if it helps flatten your tummy.
Moves like the tolasana and the eight subsequent ones we did that day are representative of a shift that ab exercises have taken in the past decade or so. Previously there was a tendency to isolate the abdominal muscles to give each one an individual workout — crunches for your rectus abdominis, bicycles for the obliques — but as Olson points out, that's not the way it works in real life. "When you're reaching up to get something, picking up a baby or bending down, you need all the muscles to work together," she says. "Instead of targeting each one, you should aim for functional fitness, where the muscles work as a unit."
You’re here because you want a flat stomach. That’s awesome! I know feeling more confident physically in your skin can lead to a dramatic improvement in your outward confidence and self-esteem too. I know my life improved as a result of taking care of myself physically, and that physical strength created an inner strength and confidence that carried over to the rest of my life.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Using leftover pork from yesterday, throw together a Thai pork salad. Combine a quarter pound of pork (a third of the leftovers), 2 cups romaine lettuce, ¼ red bell pepper, ½ cup cilantro leaves, and 1 shredded carrot. Top with the rest of the cilantro-lime dressing. We like the two-dressing combo with some peanut sauce. To make, combine ½ tablespoon of peanut butter, a squirt of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, and enough water to thin it out.
After this you should reallly make a challenge for the arms and shoulders. After doing blogilates for 10 months (ofc being sick a total of 2 of them), I still had a lot of difficulties doing the arm workout the other day that contained a “beginners workout” with some arm workouts. And I still can’t go up in a “bridge”, so please Cassey, make some more arm-workouts that are easy, but effective, with different degrees of difficulty so I can choose an easier one- and follow through (I kinda just sacked together on the last arm workout).
"I recommend the DCBA approach: Diet first, Cardio second, Building muscle third, and Abs exercises last. Follow it and you can safely lose one to two pounds a week. Spend 60 minutes a day preparing healthier meals. Spend 20 minutes a day three to five times weekly doing cardio. Spend 15 minutes a day three times a week strength training. Finally, spend 5 minutes a day three times a week doing abs exercises."
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.