"When you're frazzled, your body increases its production of steroids and stress hormones, which negatively affect your digestive system, causing major constipation," says Dr. Reichman. And as if that weren't enough to leave you looking pouchy, stress also amps up the production of cortisol, a "fight or flight" hormone that sends excess fat directly to your midsection in its attempt to protect your vital organs. To minimize tension, Dr. Reichman advises taking 20 minutes a day to relax.
Even calorie-free sodas can make your belly bigger because the carbonation will bloat you up. “With carbonated beverages, there’s nowhere else for gas to go but out, so either belch or gas,” says Crandall. Plus, the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks can cause bloating and gas in some people, says Armul. Try water infused with lemon or cucumbers instead for a flavorful, refreshing drink. Here’s how stomach doctors deal with belly bloat.
“Researchers believe that reflecting on values can serve as a buffer to the stress and uncertainty that leads to emotional eating and help in maintaining self-control in difficult situations,” she explains. To reap the benefits at home, Forberg suggests pulling out a journal, setting the timer and free-flowing about what’s important to you. “Write as though no one else will read it. Come clean with what’s bugging you. It may surprise and enlighten you,” adds Forberg. For more weight loss hacks, check out these 40 Ways to Lose Weight in 4 Seconds.
To start off your quest for a flat belly this summer, why not begin with a simple and versatile exercise you can do whenever you have a spare 5 minutes? Flat planks engage your core, and according to Eat This, Not That! For Abs author Mark Langowski, they are “the single most effective move that works every muscle in your body.” Whether you’re doing some flat planks while you watch TV at night or in your office during some downtime, they will have your abs (and the rest of you) looking fit and toned in no time. “If you can only do it for 30 seconds before collapsing, try to add 10 seconds to it each time you attempt it,” Mark advises. “Do this for three sets every other day and you’ll start seeing results!”