Ask a woman struggling to lose weight, where does she want the weight to come off first, and I can promise you that she is more than like to say the tummy! This is especially true if you are talking to a woman who has had a baby. For most of us, a flat tummy makes us look slimmer, more proportionate, taller and ultimately more attractive. And the clothes fit better too!
Here at Nerd Fitness, we’re a fan of the idea behind the Paleo Diet (we’re more “Paleo-ish” though), as it covers the list we just outlined above and gives you a simple, if strict, framework to follow. Even if you don’t follow things to the letter, a Paleo-ish diet – and the countless resources that have sprung up for it – are a great starting point for many people.
Crunches address your abdominal muscles, but you also need to do exercises to hit the other major muscle groups including the legs, hips, shoulders, chest, back and arms. At least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of exercises for all of these muscle groups -- including crunches -- completes a total body routine and will help tone your stomach area faster than crunches alone. Once you can do that without getting too tired, repeat each exercise set two or three times, or make them harder by adding weight. The important thing is to continue challenging your body if you want to see continued improvement.
High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”
Abs-friendly foods deal with the causes of belly fat, like balancing your gut bacteria, reducing gas, preventing constipation and containing healthy fats. Whole grains, lean protein, eggs, leafy vegetables, almonds, yogurt and green tea are toppers in this list. Get your dose of Omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish or capsules. Green tea contains catechins which are antioxidants that claim to reduce belly fat.
Step two is to get some calorie-burning cardio exercise. Of course you've already heard that pointer often, but Weltman takes this idea one step further, noting that high-intensity aerobic exercise is even more effective at burning off visceral fat than the same amount of low-intensity exercise. In one study, he had overweight women walk or jog five times a week; one group worked out for a longer amount of time at a low intensity, while the other did shorter stints of high-intensity work. Even though each group burned the exact same number of calories in each workout, the high-intensity group melted off more visceral fat. "We speculate that there's a relation between the intensity of the workout and the amount of growth hormone released, which is a powerful mobilizer of visceral fat," Weltman 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.