I ask Dr. McCulloch how I ended up with a relatively slim 26-1/2-inch waist that has forced me to belt every pair of pants I've ever bought in order to cinch the gap created by wearing sizes big enough to fit my more ample bottom. The answer includes factors like body type, fat composition, and possibly even the shape of the pelvic bone, where your ab muscles attach, she says. Theoretically, a wider pelvis can translate into a broad lower abdomen and hips, compared with what's north of the belly button. "These are all variations on normal, and genetics can play a big role," she assures me.
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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.
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.
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Eating every three or four hours will prevent you from getting too ravenous. Curb your hunger with a midafternoon snack so you aren’t starving by dinnertime. “If you wait too long or build up this intense hunger, you’re more likely to choose those convenience foods and more likely to overeat at that next meal,” says Armul. “You want generally smaller to moderate portion sizes because they’re an easier load for your body.”
When you’re continually stressed out, it’s bad news for your belly. Stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol, and because cortisol is evolutionarily linked to alerting your body to external dangers (like that buffalo headed straight for you) and low blood-glucose levels, it forces your body to store fat and makes you feel hungry. In other words, if you’re stressed, you’ll start craving that afternoon candy bar even if your stomach is actually full. To avoid stress, try simple things like yoga, taking deep breaths and meditating for a few minutes each day.
©2007.C. W. Randolph, M.D., Genie James. All rights reserved. Reprinted from From Belly Fat to Belly Flat. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.
Eggs are the number one source of choline, a fat-burning nutrient. They fire up your metabolism and help turn off the genes for belly fat storage. In a study of 21 men in the journal Nutrition Research, half of the men were fed a breakfast of bagels while the other half ate eggs. The egg group had a lower response to ghrelin and were less hungry three hours later. They also consumed fewer calories for the next 24 hours! And speaking of belly fat, lose more of it with the help of these 42 Ways to Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat.

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.
This fried rice recipe is the most underrated weight-loss food out there because it utilizes two cooking methods that boost nutrients. For starters, it uses cold brown rice, which changes the starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation (adding to the resistant starches found in the corn and peas). Resistant starches pass through your gut undigested, where they feed your good gut bacteria who then release anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s also fried up with oil, a fat that acts as a barrier against rapid digestion.
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.
Spanx are maybe no one’s idea of a good time, but sometimes you just need a little extra (firm) help to flatten your tummy to wear your favorite dress or for a special evening out. And there’s nothing wrong with turning to technology to help you get there. Body shaping undergarments have come a long way in the past few years with more breathable fabrics and styles for both men and women.
Even if dieters have cut out the cheese pizza and ice cream, losing that extra fat around the middle can prove frustrating, especially for those over 30. Author and doctor Randolph (From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well), along with women's health expert James, asserts that much of the blame can be placed on estrogen. A three-pronged approach to reverse the trend, resulting in additional weight loss, involves eating foods to balance one's hormone levels (primarily cruciferous vegetables, citrus and fiber); using a natural, topical progesterone treatment (naturally, he suggests Dr. Randolph's Natural Balance Cream); and taking seven key dietary supplements, including a range of vitamins, a ""calcium-magnesium combo"" and DHEA. The importance of exercise and physician visits are acknowledged but not discussed (""When You Will Need a Doctor"" is essentially two paragraphs about getting one's hormone levels checked). The month's worth of meal plans provided are generally tasty, healthy dishes such as Cauliflower Crab Cakes, Pickled Beets and Grilled Salmon with Dill and Lemon; that said, Randolph's bold assertions and self-promotion give the book an infomercial feel that compromises an otherwise medically sound diet.
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.
Fruits like berries, cherries, apples, and oranges are high in quercetin, a natural compound that reduces inflammation in the belly. And if you put a bowl of the good stuff right where you can see it in your kitchen, you’re more likely to reach for it when you want a snack. These are the 10 reasons why apple cider vinegar is brilliant for slimming down.
Lie faceup with legs together and extended straight out. Place right hand lightly on back of head and extend left arm straight back overhead, holding a 3-pound weight (A). Bring legs up to 90 degrees; crunch upper and lower body while lifting left arm up and then lowering it forward until it's in line with torso (B). Return to start. Do 30 to 40 reps; repeat on other side. Keep neck neutral so you don't strain it.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cut up two 4-oz portions of pork into cubes along with 1/2 cup diced onion. Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a pan over medium-high head. Add pork and onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add a 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots, and 1/4 cup frozen corn. Move veggies to the side, and crack two eggs on the other side, whisking to scramble. Add in 1 cup rice, 1 tbsp soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil if you have it, and fry together for another minute. Makes 2 servings.
There are no wrong ways to eat a Reese’s. Feasting rituals, research suggests, are a form of “mindful eating,” which has the power to make food more pleasurable, and may help prevent overeating. Pleasure, according to research in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, catalyzes the relaxation response, promoting parasympathetic and digestive activities. In other words, you’ll metabolize dessert faster if you really, really enjoy eating it. In one study, participants who were assigned to eat a chocolate bar in accordance with a particular breaking and unwrapping ritual found the candy much more enjoyable—and even more flavorful—than a group who ate the bar informally.
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!”
Sit on your hips with both legs extended in front of you. Place your hands behind your hips and keep your back long as you lean back slightly and lift your legs off the floor, holding your belly in and up the entire time. Reach both arms out to the sides of your thighs. Lower your legs about 45 degrees, until your body resembles a wide ‘V’. Hold this position for 10 long, deep breaths (or up to 60 seconds).

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.


Now that we know how important it is to get rid of belly fat, let us see how it gets there in the first place. Men have a tendency to hold excess fat in their bellies, though women are more prone to store it in their hips and thighs – a protection offered by hormones. However, menopause removes this protection, making women equally vulnerable. An apple shaped woman will also have this vulnerability, mainly due to her genes. Other reasons include more calorie intake, mainly from processed food, alcohol and trans fats as well as bloating due to gassy foods.
Plant-based protein powders are a low-sugar, high-fiber alternative to popular dairy-based supplements, which can lead to bloating. Hemp, rice and pea proteins are all good options; however, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting complete proteins with a full amino acid profile, so aim to find a protein powder blend that combines all three. We like Vega One ALl-in-One Nutritional Shake and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend. Whip up any of these 23 Best Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss to reap the benefits. Even if they call for whey protein, you can sub-in your plant-based favorite.
Want to get a flat tummy fast? This plan from best-selling author Liz Vaccariello may help you beat belly bulge in less than a month. The secret? Your body’s weight-loss weapon: stomach bacteria. Scientists have identified a relationship between imbalanced digestive bacteria and weight gain. This 21-day plan will help you optimize your gut and get slim at the same time!
I'm not going to tell you to abstain from alcohol completely, I'm pretty open about how much I enjoy a little tequila from time to time of the occasional glass of red. But when you're trying to lose weight and tone up, alcohol is the ultimate enemy. Alcohol releases estrogen into the bloodstream and when you have excess estrogen, you're more prone to hold onto weight. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, decreases your willpower, and stimulates your appetite. The result? You're at a diner ordering a cheeseburger and fries at 2 a.m. Now THAT is definitely not the route to a rock hard six pack. Your best bet is to take a hiatus from booze until you meet your weight-loss goals and can re-introduce alcohol into your diet in a healthy way – 2 to 4 drinks a week tops.
The pooch is bad enough, but what's worse is the back problems an overworked rectus can create—anything from general pain to degenerative or herniated disks, says Wells. "The stronger muscles in the front of your body take over and your back muscles turn off ," he says. With nothing to hold your spine in place, the disks can shift and squish together.
OH my gosh… I’ve just finished day 11 of this, and I was so startled to realise I could lift my shoulders off the mat without straining my neck!!!!! I’ve never been able to do this before! I’ve been doing blogilates videos on and off for a while now, and I always struggled with core workouts because I was always straining my neck, and couldn’t understand how anyone could “lift their shoulders” Without all the strain. This is ace! Ive recently started doing all the combined 30 day challenges because I suffered a foot injury last year that has really hampered any kind of exercise I’ve tried since (for a month, I couldn’t even walk). This seemed like a way of working out that would slowly develop muscles without putting too much strain on my foot. The fact that I’m already seeing progress gives me hope! Thank you Cassey :) x
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.
Replace your candy and cookie jars on the kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruits and containers of nuts. Stock your fridge with chopped veggies and hummus for a quick and healthy snack. This way they’re more readily available, and you have no excuses to grab a bag of chips, right?  Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, the dietitian to the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, likes having washed and prepared cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where you can see them. To discover more healthy foods that will help you lose weight, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body.
MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids, are the cornerstone of the Flat Belly Plan. These are plant-based fats, so the easiest way to remember them is to look for healthy fats that aren’t from animal sources, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, oils and olives. A study done through the American Diabetic Association found that a diet rich in MUFAs worked to reduce belly fat.

Contrary to what many people believe, doing thousands of sit-ups or crunches all day, every day, will not get you closer to achieving those washboard abs. Yep, you read that right. Both belly bulge and love handles are about excess body fat, NOT lack of muscle. And sadly, we can’t spot reduce fat. That's why ab exercises alone are not the solution. Scoring a flat stomach is all about workouts that burn body fat overall. One of the best ways to do that is utilizing exercises that are core focused, but impact different muscle groups at the same time — so you're strengthening your entire body, which burns more calories and subsequently more fat – during and long after your workout.  A perfect example of this would be a mountain climber. You are working your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and accelerating the hell out of your heart rate for optimal calorie burn.


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.

Keeping a food journal is an easy way to control your weight and help you become more aware of any belly-bloating triggers, Bannan says. Write down what you're eating and how your stomach feels throughout the day, and you might discover what isn't treating your tummy kindly. Ask yourself: Do I feel gassy? Am I overfull after just a few bites of certain foods? Does my stomach make sounds or feel swollen following specific meals?
In this book, we look at all of the ways you can improve your own gut health, starting with the food you eat. My diet recommendations, meal plans, and recipes will help feed and protect your gut microbes. And we look at the many other steps you can take to support your beneficial bacteria, from avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to changing the way you think about dirt and germs. Even the choices you make about how you bring your children into the world can have an impact on your family's microbiomes.
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