Though your uterus shrinks back to its normal size after the baby's born, your muscles don't always close—in fact, in a small study, nearly 40 percent of women still had a gap six months after giving birth. This breach allows the soft tissue behind your abs to come through, Trupin says. Plus, your back muscles have to compensate for your off-duty abs, putting you at risk for back pain.
Your brain takes about 20 to 30 minutes to register fullness signals from your stomach. If you finish in just 15 minutes, you might go for seconds, thinking you’re still hungry, says Rumsey. Eating more slowly will give your body time to realize if it’s full, plus it can help you swallow less air into your digestive tract. “You tend to swallow more air when eating fast, and that can cause bloat,” says Rumsey. Put your fork down between bites so you don’t end up shoveling food in your mouth, and count to 20 before you swallow each forkful, recommends Crandall.
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.
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.