Munching on the right snacks throughout the day is one of the best ways to shrink your waistline. Need proof? According to a recent study, researchers found participants lost significantly more body weight when they incorporated low-sugar, high-protein snacks into their daily food routine. Fitting in healthy, high protein snacks (such as a handful of unsalted almonds) helps to maintain blood-sugar levels—which keeps your brain from triggering hunger pangs—and stops your body from indulging in unhealthy foods after what feels like a long day of starvation.
Stoke your body with meals that combine belly-friendly fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats so you never feel hungry. We’ll stay largely carb-light, but now you’re ready to reintroduce sweets to your diet, with a delicious dessert every other day. Meals feature an ideal balance of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat, which research indicates is the best mix for decreasing inflammation and improving digestion. It’s the combination we recommend you stick with for life.
A note on low carb diets: With low carb diets (I see you Paleo), a lot of junk carbs (sweets, breads, alcohol) are also restricted in the process. This is good, and often leads to weight loss. Carbohydrates also hold water in the body, so we’ll also see water loss (and subsequent weight loss). All of this is exciting and people think “I’m never touching a carb again!”
A note on vegan/vegetarian diets: This is another topic that entire books and articles are written about, so we won’t dive into them here. Of course, it is absolutely possible to build muscle or lose fat on a vegan/vegetarian diet. Certainly you can get to a flat stomach, you just need to be diligent with your calorie tracking and macros, like we recommend you do above.
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!
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 including these 42 other easy tips to lose weight fast!
Simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in the winter may help attack belly fat while we sleep, according to a study in the journal Diabetes. As it turns out, colder temps can subtly enhance the effectiveness of your brown fat stores, which keep you warm by helping your burn through belly fat. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the participants had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat.
“The plank is a favorite, but we take it to another level opening and closing the legs like scissors while at the same time raising and dropping the hips! So not only are you strengthening the core but also timing the hips, thighs and waist. [We also do] the trunk twist along with a back row using the bands. The benefit of this exercise will give you flat abs and coke bottle obliques while removing those fat handles from the back and arms.”
Core compressions: Sit tall in a chair with your feet hip-width apart and your belly flattened toward your spine. Place one hand on your upper abs and the other on your lower. Take a deep breath in, then exhale forcefully to draw your abdominal muscles in even tighter, keeping your back straight and still. Continue for five minutes, focusing on slow, complete tightening of the muscles. Do two sets.
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.
Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Hold onto the outside of each ankle with your opposite hand, and lift your legs off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. Pull your abs into your spine and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, begin to round onto your back. Continue rolling until your shoulder blades touch the floor, lifting your hips, still holding onto your ankles. Keeping your abs in tight, rock back up to sitting, finding your balance again on your sitting bones. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
Make dessert an occasional treat rather than an everyday event so it doesn’t become a habit, says Rumsey. If you’re already feeling bloated, eating sweets full of simple carbs could just make it worse, says Armul. “But if it’s been a healthy day and you’ve stayed active, a small portion of dessert should be fine and won’t cause major bloating,” she says. The key to making it fit into your flat-belly day is sticking with one small portion—a serving of ice cream is probably smaller than your usual scoop (or two)—or picking a healthier choice, like frozen fruit, to satisfy your sweet tooth.
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. Here are other home remedies to help an upset stomach.
The trick is to never stuff your tummy, or to starve. Eat something within half an hour of waking up and then a breakfast full of wholegrain and protein. Go for a filling lunch and a light dinner at least three hours before bedtime. Eat two snacks – one mid morning and one at tea time. Small, balanced meals do not lead to tummy bulge and keep your metabolism up and running. Best part is that your body never goes into starvation mode, which is when it feels the need to store everything as fat.
It could take months before you start to notice a difference, so don’t expect the process to be easy. And if you do manage to develop a nice, toned six pack, it probably won’t change your life. You don’t need a perfectly flat tummy or washboard abs to be healthy and look good. Keep in mind, people can’t see your abs under your clothing, it’s hard work maintaining them (nonstop dieting), and the low levels of body fat required to have a flat stomach may actually leave you looking less athletic and attractive. So, if you really want a flat stomach, get ready to fight for it. Otherwise, just shoot for being healthy.
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 to your plate to help you lose weight.
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 loyal dog of nearly seventeen years, Nala.