This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to sunlight in between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you're exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores, instead of from the food you ate. But what really stunned Martha was the improvement in her heart health. Before starting Zero Belly Diet, Martha's heart rate would typically soar to 112 beats per minute (bpm) within moments of starting her exercise bike workout. "After the first week and a half I could not raise my heart rate over 96 bpm with the same workout. It was great to see change in the mirror, and even better to know good things were happening that I couldn't even see."
Another imbalance that plagues the abs is between the obliques, the muscles that cinch your sides. You have two sets on both your right and left, and if you show them love, they'll give you a nice hourglass shape. Sadly, your left obliques start out at a disadvantage, says Hahn. Blame your heart, which takes up extra space and makes the obliques difficult to tone—an issue that's compounded if you're right-handed. "Think about where your mouse pad is," says Hahn. "Then you shake hands, change the radio station in the car—you do so much with your right side, making it stronger."
It could take months before you start to notice a difference, so don’t expect the process to be easy. And if you do manage to develop a nice, toned six pack, it probably won’t change your life. You don’t need a perfectly flat tummy or washboard abs to be healthy and look good. Keep in mind, people can’t see your abs under your clothing, it’s hard work maintaining them (nonstop dieting), and the low levels of body fat required to have a flat stomach may actually leave you looking less athletic and attractive. So, if you really want a flat stomach, get ready to fight for it. Otherwise, just shoot for being healthy.
"I recommend the DCBA approach: Diet first, Cardio second, Building muscle third, and Abs exercises last. Follow it and you can safely lose one to two pounds a week. Spend 60 minutes a day preparing healthier meals. Spend 20 minutes a day three to five times weekly doing cardio. Spend 15 minutes a day three times a week strength training. Finally, spend 5 minutes a day three times a week doing abs exercises."
While it's not possible to uncover a six-pack overnight, it is possible to reduce bloat in hours just by eating strategically—even without subsisting on niche superfoods that you have to search 12 health-food stores to find. Here, nutritionist Keri Glassman reveals a day of flat-belly meals and snacks made from ingredients that you can probably find in your pantry or local bodega.
The good news, according to Weltman, is that high intensity — the level at which you feel the effort and can no longer hold a conversation — is different for each person. "You may have to run to get to that level, while someone else may just have to jog or walk," he explains. "It all depends on your level of fitness, but the great thing is, you can do it whether you're a competitive athlete or just starting out."
Want a flatter stomach? Look in your glass—milk and soda are two major causes of tummy inflation. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, which means that your glass of warm milk before bed may be the reason you wake up with too-tight pajamas. These are signs you might be lactose intolerant. And when it comes to soda, both regular and diet are belly busters both from the sweeteners used and the carbonation. Try eliminating these from your diet and see if it helps flatten your tummy.
You know that light yellow color that makes margarine look almost indistinguishable from butter when laid side by side? Well, it’s far from natural. In fact, without all the additives, margarine is actually an appetite-crushing shade of grey—yuck! As if that weren’t bad enough, many brands add propylene glycol, a synthetic compound, to their recipe to add grease without adding calories. Research has shown that the spread may expand your waistline, increase dangerous cholesterol levels and up your heart disease risk. Instead of margarine, we suggest one of these 8 Best Fats for Weight Loss.
A study by Eat This, Not That! magazine advisor Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that you can estimate how much someone weighs by taking a photo of their kitchen counter. After analyzing photos of 200 kitchens, he found that women who have soda sitting on their countertops weigh an average 26 pounds more while those who have cookies weigh about eight pounds more. The biggest surprise: Keeping cereal on your counter leads to an additional 20 pounds of body weight. The lesson here is to clean empty calories off your countertops to start losing weight.
WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
The two figures standing in front of me one recent winter morning could not look more different. On the right is Carrie McCulloch, MD, a musculoskeletal anatomy expert and the medical director for Kinected Pilates studio in New York City, who is sizing up the shape of my waistline. Dr. McCulloch's own midsection happens to be perfectly rounded because she is only weeks away from giving birth to her first child. On the left is her assistant, Mr. Bones, one of those hanging skeletons that teach medical students how the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. Mr. Bones doesn't actually have a waist, just a hollow space between his ribs and pelvis.
Before hitting the hay, prepare breakfast for half of the week tonight! This recipe makes enough for 4 breakfasts, of which we’re only using 3 servings this week, so you can finish the last serving next Sunday (just throw a portion in the freezer tomorrow to keep it fresh)! We’re using the overnight oats method to cut down on time since we’ve chosen to use one of the longer-cooking oats, steel-cut. They might take longer to prepare, but steel-cut oats are one of the best cuts out there. They’re lower on the glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, meaning they’ll keep you fuller, longer. These oats are also loaded with vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin), which are so important, the government usually enriches your cereal with them!
3) Eat better carbs at better times. Now we’re starting to get a bit more complex. When you are eating carbs, aim for starchy carbs – sweet potatoes, rices, squashes and such. Look for carbs that aren’t processed or liquid. The ingredient list should just be that item (e.g., “sweet potato”, not “cultured wheat starch solids, vinegar, soy lecithin”).
Stork tells Fox News he also get asked for advice quite a bit, but he thinks it's great that people are so interested in their health. "The one thing that I’ve learne,d and this is something that I found to be true since I started hosting “The Doctors,” is [that] we all want to be healthy … We don’t always succeed, but we’re all looking to be healthier and if people have questions for me … unless, like one time on a plane, a guy said, 'Hey doc, my hemorrhoids are really acting out!' No!"
What’s better than squats if you’re looking to get a flat belly? Pairing those squats with a bicycle crunch. This combo is one of Mark’s favorites because of all the different muscle groups it targets. “This compound movement not only hits your legs, but also works lower abdominals, upper abdominals, and obliques—all in one fun move!” he explains. Do a handful of sets a few times a week to start seeing results.
Yup, this means all the “secret ab routines” you see about targeting certain abs (Upper abs! Lower abs! Obliques!) mean diddly-squat about getting rid of the fat on top of those muscles – those are only necessary when you are at a low bodyfat percentage. Which means you can stop doing 10 different ab exercises to hit the different muscles in your stomach. It’s not a good use of your time!