Strength training is a great way to stay in shape and build up muscle, and because muscle mass burns more calories than fat (every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself), the more muscle on your skeleton, the quicker you will lose the fat throughout your body, especially around your abdomen. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year, and be even closer to obtaining that lean physique you’ve always wanted. A simple way to build up muscle via strength training is to do push-ups or planks.


Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart, toes tucked under. Extend your arms out straight in front of your chest, palms facing down. Lift your chest and press your pelvis forward as you hinge backwards, arching slightly through your lower back. Pause and focus on opening up your chest while also keeping your ribcage down and your belly button drawn into your spine. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat up to 10 times.

But because you don't have X-ray vision to see whether too much of the potentially dangerous visceral fat is parking itself in your own belly, scientists have figured out a couple of DIY guidelines. To avoid increased risk of obesity-related diseases, women should have a waist measurement no bigger than 35 inches (measure it at the smallest point of your midsection), and some experts recommend a waist-to-hip ratio of around 0.8, meaning that your waistline should be no greater than 80 percent of your hip circumference. According to a Mayo Clinic study released last May, the ratio of waist to hip is believed to be a measurement of visceral fat. Other fascinating research, published in the American Journal of Human Biology, found that women who give birth before age 40 have an average of two centimeters more fat around their bellies than women of the same ages who haven't given birth. (I'll have to thank my two daughters for those extra centimeters.)
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.

Peterson has his clients work up to holding a plank for 1 minute. Then they progress to performing vacuums during the exercise: Suck in your abs like you’re trying to button jeans that are too tight. Hold for 3 counts, then release for 3 counts. Repeat until the end of your plank. You’ll have to build back up to a minute, but it’s worth it, Peterson says.


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.
×