Adequate sleep plays an integral role in our weight. This is because our metabolism dictates everything from the rate we burn calories to when and where we store fat. And your metabolism is simply your biochemistry / hormone balance. For this reason, when we don’t sleep the body doesn’t release as much fat burning HGH, and conversely it releases more of the belly fat stress hormone cortisol as well as an appetite enhancing hormone called Ghrelin. Be sure to get your shut eye. 8 hours a night is preferable, but 7 will suffice.
"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.
Think of your ab muscles as the meat in the middle of a fat sandwich. On top of them is subcutaneous fat, the stuff you pinch as you look in the mirror. Below them is visceral fat, which is the type that takes up residence next to your internal organs — in excessive amounts if you continually overdo it on calories and experience too much pent-up stress. "When you fill up those subcutaneous areas, fat winds up getting stored where it shouldn't, in your deep abdomen or your liver," explains Arthur Weltman, PhD, exercise physiology professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Visceral fat has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, he notes.
Just like vegetables, this can be as simple or as complex as you want it. Maybe you’re just making sure there’s a protein source at each meal (if it was lacking before). Maybe you’re figuring out rough portion sizes. Maybe you’re taking it to the max and actually weighing your food. The point is, you should be including it throughout the day and week.
Seated medicine ball twists are a great way to get a toned midsection because they target your obliques while also engaging your abdominals and lower back muscles. When doing this exercise, Mark advises people to keep their feet on the ground. “This one is all about form, so keep your feet on the ground, lean back just enough to feel an engagement in your abdominals, and make a nice full turn with your shoulders,” he explains, noting you should feel that satisfying core burn in no time.
“Shockingly, maybe the most effective exercise of all is just getting off the couch and walking. There's all this great data that sitting is bad for us and all this wonderful data that just moving is good for you … If you could start a program of 30 minutes of walking a day, combined with healthy eating — maybe it's not the ultimate goal, but that's enough."
Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Hold onto the outside of each ankle with your opposite hand, and lift your legs off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. Pull your abs into your spine and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, begin to round onto your back. Continue rolling until your shoulder blades touch the floor, lifting your hips, still holding onto your ankles. Keeping your abs in tight, rock back up to sitting, finding your balance again on your sitting bones. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
Sprinting is better for weight loss than running at a steady pace, says Dan Roberts, one of the UK’s top trainers. “Sprinting builds muscle which helps burn fat quickly. Also, the action of driving the legs initiates the abs and core” explains Roberts. “The faster you go and the shorter your recovery, the more your abs will develop.” Instead of your typical 30-minute trot, do 20 sets of 30-second sprints with a 30-second recovery between each. Here’s how to do it:
A healthy lunch should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, with the other half split between whole grains and protein, says Rumsey. “That way, you have some carbs but not too much,” she says. Pick a dressing low in sugar and sodium—olive oil with balsamic vinegar will give you a little healthy fat to keep you full and help absorb nutrients from your veggies. (Here are more food combinations that help you get the most health benefits.) Add at least three vegetables, 3 to 6 ounces of a protein like chicken or beans, and just a thumb-sized amount of extras for crunch or flavor such as dried fruit, croutons, and olives, says Rumsey. Double wash canned beans before adding them to your salad to rinse away their gas-forming, bloat-producing properties, says Crandall.
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.
Fennel, peppermint, and ginger have all been shown in research studies to have calming effects on the belly. They work by enhancing digestive enzymes so your food gets moved through your system faster. And faster-moving food means a flatter tummy. In addition, peppermint reduces cramping and gas, ginger helps with nausea and inflammation, and fennel is a diuretic to help you stop retaining water.
C.W. Randolph, M.D., graduated from Auburn University's School of Pharmacy and received his medical degree at Louisiana State University's School of Medicine. In 2000, Dr. Randolph attended Columbia University Medical School where he completed an intensivetraining in the field of integrated medicine under Andrew Weill, M.D. He is a frequent speaker at medical organizations and is the coauthor of From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well.
Simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in the winter may help attack belly fat while we sleep, according to a study in the journal Diabetes. As it turns out, colder temps can subtly enhance the effectiveness of your brown fat stores, which keep you warm by helping your burn through belly fat. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the participants had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat.
"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."