What causes it? Your genes, for one thing. "Some families just carry most of their weight in their bellies, no matter how thin they are," says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., author of The MD Factor Diet. But visceral fat gets worse for all of us as we get older, especially if we're under a lot of stress or not sleeping well, says nutritionist Sara Vance, author of The Perfect Metabolism Plan. That's thanks to hormones that make us hungrier even as our bodies are practically hoarding fat.

Bloating isn't all in your head. It IS possible to carry extra water weight in your tummy. To beat the bloat, decrease your sodium intake to no more than 2000 mg a day and increase your water consumption. It's easy to start monitoring your sodium intake by reading food labels. Limiting the amount of sodium you consume will help you reduce your water retention and look leaner in your clothes.
Lately the common sit-up has stirred controversy, coming under fire from certain experts for putting excessive wear and tear on the spine. While evidence is mounting but the jury is still out, try this simple back-friendly modification from Stuart McGill, PhD, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada and author of The Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance: Lying faceup on the floor, slip your hands underneath the natural curve of your spine. "You can activate the rectus abdominis with tiny upward movements, as if you're lifting your head and shoulders off a bathroom scale so it registers zero," he explains.
Hara hachi bu is a Japanese practice to “Eat until 80% full.” If you follow Hara hachi bu, you could save nearly 300 calories per day. It can take up to 30 minutes for the body to register satiety signals, according to research, so consider using chopsticks to slow your pace and feel your fullness. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, healthy-weight customers were nearly three times more likely to use chopsticks than obese customers.

Maximize belly-fat loss by boosting anti-inflammatory foods that are high in magnesium and monounsaturated fatty acids. You’ll continue to enjoy one Belly Soother Smoothie per day, but your other meals will be larger, to keep your metabolism humming. Here, we introduce fiber-rich and carb-light grains—quinoa and oat bran—and pair them with magnesium-rich fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, plus MUFA-rich oils and other foods, to create filling stir-fries and protein-packed dinners that will keep you fueled up and feeling good.

• When high estrogen levels are unopposed by sufficient progesterone, the resulting condition of estrogen dominance also impacts your body fat's distribution. In both men and women, higher estrogen levels predispose the body to store fat around the abdomen. In women, estrogen dominance causes fat to be stored around the waist, hips, and thighs, and it's the main reason that many middle-age women have pear-shaped bodies. Estrogen dominance is also the reason for the middle-age spare tire in men.
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Brace your abs in tight and press through your heels to bridge your hips off the floor. Keeping your hips lifted and square, extend your left leg up to the ceiling, foot flexed. Sweep your left leg to the right, passing the midline of your body and then sweep back out to the left, slightly past your left hip. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times (back and forth) with the left leg, and then switch legs and repeat 10 more times before lowering out of bridge.
Keeping a bag of frozen fruit in your freezer makes it so easy to whip up this portable smoothie. Besides the convenience, frozen fruit can also be healthier than fresh fruit in the off-season because frozen fruit is picked at its peak and is full of free-radical-fighting antioxidants. What’s more, the act of freezing the fruit may also help release some of those antioxidants as the ice crystals can burst open the cells in which they’re stored! We like putting yogurt in our smoothies to add a little fat and protein and spinach to add fiber. And either a tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds for their anti-inflammatory omega-3s. All three will help to blunt any spike in blood sugar from the fruit (which also have their own source of fiber).
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.)

Maintaining your weight loss is all about balance, you should try to follow the 80/20 rule. Focus 80 percent of the time on eating healthy, belly-friendly foods that shrink the waistline and fight inflammation. Then 20 percent of the time, you have room to veer off track a bit. This 20 percent is your splurge. You may choose to have one day a week where you have a splurge meal, or you may opt for a small snack twice a week where you don’t exactly make the healthiest choice.

Maximize belly-fat loss by boosting anti-inflammatory foods that are high in magnesium and monounsaturated fatty acids. You’ll continue to enjoy one Belly Soother Smoothie per day, but your other meals will be larger, to keep your metabolism humming. Here, we introduce fiber-rich and carb-light grains—quinoa and oat bran—and pair them with magnesium-rich fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, plus MUFA-rich oils and other foods, to create filling stir-fries and protein-packed dinners that will keep you fueled up and feeling good.
Remember that second piece of salmon? That’ll be your protein for lunch! To complement the spicy paprika on the salmon, we’ve chosen to do a take on a fajita salad. Our favorite part is the simple cilantro-lime salad dressing. Making your own dressing at home can save you 12 grams of added sugar. Don’t believe us? Check out these surprising foods with added sugar.
For your dinner tonight—as well as for lunch and dinner for the next couple days—you’ll be making a super simple roasted chicken breast with roasted veggies and quinoa. Chicken is a versatile, lean protein that’s rich in selenium—a mineral that keeps your skin glowing and your metabolism running properly. Quinoa is an ancient grain that’s touted for its micronutrients, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and antioxidants, like fat-burning quercetin. And, of course, we’re getting in a rainbow of veggies to reap the unique properties of each.
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“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes. You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist."

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.
If you find regular water too boring, consider making sassy water instead. Sassy water is simply regular water infused with a number of refreshing and energizing ingredients, which help to speed up the metabolism and cut down on belly fat. Recipes vary, but many include some combination of ingredients such as orange slices, lemon slices, grated ginger, cucumber, fresh spearmint, and fresh basil. The water is left to infuse overnight — making it refreshingly "sassy" by the next morning!
That's exactly what happened when last summer I shared Zero Belly Diet with a test panel of more than 500 people, some of whom lost as much as 16 pounds in just 14 days, and up to three inches off their waist. The secret to Zero Belly Diet is the new science of nutritional genetics, the study of how our genes are turned on and off by the foods we eat. Simply making a handful of tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can help improve your gut health, dampen inflammation, turn off your fat genes and start your body shedding fat—in particular, belly fat—almost automatically.
©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.
The thyroid gland is best known for its metabolic function affecting weight. Estrogen dominance renders the thyroid hormones dysfunctional, causing your body's metabolism to slow down. The resulting condition is called relative hypothyroidism. In addition, the changes in your body's blood sugar levels—some of which occur naturally with age and some of which are due to a hormone imbalance—are also linked to weight gain. As the body's progesterone production decreases with age and estrogen becomes dominant, your body releases insulin more rapidly and more often. When fluctuating hormones unnaturally stimulate insulin release, you get hungry faster and will often crave sugar. In fact, these food cravings can sometimes be uncontrollable, and people who are estrogen dominant tend to consume more sweets even when they aren't truly hungry. As a result, they ingest more calories than their bodies require and pack on even more pounds.
Removing saturated fat (the kind found most often in animal products like meat) and replacing it with monounsaturated fat in moderation is undoubtedly a good thing. It helps lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and the chance of heart attack and stroke. So it’s a good approach for anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease.
Work to reduce your stress level. It turns out that you can place a little bit of the blame for your bulging belly on our caveman ancestors. Part of the “fight or flight” reflex that helped protect our predecessors from sabre-tooth tigers triggers a release of cortisol, which signals the body to store fat in the abdominal area — saving it as energy for tough times to come.[14]

Exposure to light at night doesn’t just interrupt your chances of a great night’s sleep, it may result in weight gain, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Study subjects who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than those sleeping in the lightest rooms. For more ways to lose weight, check out these 33 Ways to Flatten Your Belly—Fast!!
Let’s start with a reality check — despite the claims of the fad diets and belly-busting exercises out there, you can’t target fat loss. If you want a flatter stomach, you need to reduce your overall body fat level with a low-calorie, high-nutrition diet and regular calorie-burning exercise. You probably won’t be able to achieve washboard abs in a month, but you can establish new, healthier habits that will benefit your belly and the rest of your body.
Good book, short and to the point. I'd actually give it 3.5 stars. Estrogen dominance really doesn't apply to me yet but better safe than sorry. Besides I need my workouts not to go to waste, so flat abs here I come. Most of the foods suggested were very similar (if not exact) with the foods suggested in the Abs Diet books. So I guess these are the foods to eat if you want to see that six pack :)
HOW TO MAKE IT: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put two skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 pound) on a baking sheet, coating with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary, to taste. Next, chop up a sweet onion, half a pound of red pepper(s), a pound of carrots, and half a pound of brussels sprouts. Toss to coat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Throw everything on one tray and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Meanwhile, you can cook your quinoa according to package instructions.
Dark chocolate is packed with MUFAs—or monounsaturated fatty acids—that help your body burn belly fat. Dark chocolate is also filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries. It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, according to a study from Denmark. Try a chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. Get your fix in these 10 Guilt-Free Chocolate Desserts.
If you’re the type of person that drowns your sorrows in a pint of ice cream, you might be what experts refer to as an “emotional eater”—and it’s likely the primary reason you have trouble staying trim. To lose weight, you need to first learn the difference between emotional hunger, which comes on suddenly, and physical hunger, which comes on gradually and is often accompanied by physical cues like a growling stomach, explains Forberg. The best way to overcome the urge to eat? Realize that although a bad feeling will eventually go away, the calories you consumed while you were feeling down, won’t. And the next time you’re feeling emotional, don’t try to mask your emotions or distract yourself. Experts say that truly experiencing your emotions will teach you that it’s possible to tolerate them head-on. Once you’ve done this exercise, it’s time to find a new, healthy coping strategy. Hitting the gym or calling a friend to vent are both solid options. For more tips from Forberg, check out her latest ETNT article, The Biggest Loser Dietitian’s Top 25 Weight Loss Foods.

DR. RANDOLPH: Synthetic hormone drugs, such as the popularly-prescribed Premarin and Prempro family of products, have been shown to be very dangerous, increasing a woman's risk of breast cancer, blood clotting, stroke and even Alzheimer's disease. That is because these synthetic hormones have a very different molecular structure than the ones produced by the ovaries.

Hi Tiffany, Did you do this plan in its entirety? what was your results? Do you think it was wirth the effort? im looking for a meal plan to kick off better eating after a three day smoothie/ juice cleanse. My daughter and I want to do this together. she is 14 & I am 46. We eat fairly well now. Lots of whole foods and fresh ingredients but I think being on a specific meal plan will hold us accountable etc.
No, we're not telling you that you need a tummy tuck. Rather, there are several common health conditions that can make your belly bulge and until you fix the anatomical issues underneath, nothing else can flatten it out. For instance, many women have a diastisis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles, after pregnancy. In about 25 percent of these women, the muscles never quite come back together, leading to a permanent protrusion. Similarly, a hernia (congenital or from an injury) can also cause your belly to stick out. Both conditions can be resolved surgically.

Don’t fret about having to cook tonight, this sheet-pan supper is super simple. You’ll be making a piece of sockeye salmon (or wild salmon of your choice, just not farmed Atlantic) with roasted asparagus and brown rice. An important part of the flat-belly diet is getting in those anti-inflammatory, brain-protecting omega-3s that will help you lose weight and improve your health, and salmon is teeming with them. Plus, you’ll get in a serving of prebiotics via the asparagus to start healing your gut and decrease the inflammation that’s causing weight gain.


No the exercises don’t cause bloating. The reason that Cassie asks us to drink water is so that our body can flush out all the unnecessary garbage, like sodium for example, in our body that causes bloating. When our bodies hold on to these things and bloat up, (also known as water weight) the abs still exist but we cant see them because of all the bloating.
"Researchers are now discovering that gut bacteria also seem to play a role in the complex process of weight loss and weight gain," he writes. "We don't know exactly how much impact our Little Buddies have on our weight, but we're learning enough to believe that understanding the connection more fully may help us as we confront the obesity epidemic in the United States — and in our own bodies."
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