You have 80 trillion microbes in your belly, and most of them are angry. Healthy fiber is what we call “prebiotic,” meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them fight inflammation and fat gain. Fiber-rich sources of carbs are BPA-free canned black and garbanzo beans, peas, peanuts, peanut butter, old-fashioned oats, quinoa and brown rice. Looking for tasty ways to enjoy your oatmeal? Check out these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes!
Pass up baked goods. This is my own personal rule to get (and keep) flat abs. I love baked goods but there’s really nothing good about them as far as your abs are concerned. Cupcakes are awesome but they are bad for your belly. Baked treats often contain way too much sugar, tons of fat and almost no nutritional value. Many packaged baked goods also contain trans fat. If you really need dessert, have a small square of chocolate or a small scoop of ice cream. At least ice cream contains metabolism-boosting protein, which is essential for weight loss
A note on vegan/vegetarian diets: This is another topic that entire books and articles are written about, so we won’t dive into them here. Of course, it is absolutely possible to build muscle or lose fat on a vegan/vegetarian diet. Certainly you can get to a flat stomach, you just need to be diligent with your calorie tracking and macros, like we recommend you do above.
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."
Lie faceup with legs together and extended straight out. Place right hand lightly on back of head and extend left arm straight back overhead, holding a 3-pound weight (A). Bring legs up to 90 degrees; crunch upper and lower body while lifting left arm up and then lowering it forward until it's in line with torso (B). Return to start. Do 30 to 40 reps; repeat on other side. Keep neck neutral so you don't strain it.
Eggs are the number one source of choline, a fat-burning nutrient. They fire up your metabolism and help turn off the genes for belly fat storage. In a study of 21 men in the journal Nutrition Research, half of the men were fed a breakfast of bagels while the other half ate eggs. The egg group had a lower response to ghrelin and were less hungry three hours later. They also consumed fewer calories for the next 24 hours! And speaking of belly fat, lose more of it with the help of these 42 Ways to Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat.
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.
As part of the Flat Belly Plan, have an anti-inflammatory snack in the afternoon. Snacks should be rich in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that help curb inflammation. They're the natural compounds that give berries and other fruits their vibrant color. Try a sliced yellow bell pepper with hummus or a bowl of mixed berries drizzled with dark chocolate. Click here for more anti-inflammatory food suggestions.
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!
Cruciferous veggies are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, but unfortunately they’re also the ones most likely to cause your tummy to inflate. Thanks to raffinose, a compound that produces extra gas as it breaks down, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and the like can seriously increase your waistline. But don’t ditch them forever. Just save them for meals where you can wear loose pants. Here are other surprising foods that cause gas.
Crunches work the upper abdomen, leg raises work the lower abdomen, and side bends work the obliques (also known as love handles). About 15-25 reps each day should be enough. If you can do more than that, try adding weights to your routine. Note that doing crunches will only build muscle underneath your existing belly fat, but will not burn that fat directly.
There’s arguably nothing easier than pouring some cereal into a bowl to start your day, but loading up on Frosted Flakes in the a.m. is detrimental for your belly. Tony the Tiger’s favorite cereal, while tasty, is packed with sugar and empty calories that are keeping you from having the body you want. Forgoing the Frosted flakes in favor of eggs is an easy way to change that. Since they are an excellent source of protein, eggs have the power to keep you fuller, longer. In fact, in one study with 21 participants, half were fed a breakfast of bagels while half ate eggs. The egg group had a lower response to ghrelin (the “hunger hormone,”) were less hungry three hours later, and consumed fewer calories over the course of the next day than the bagel eaters. What’s more? Egg yolks contain choline, a nutrient with powerful fat-burning properties.
A note on low carb diets: With low carb diets (I see you Paleo), a lot of junk carbs (sweets, breads, alcohol) are also restricted in the process. This is good, and often leads to weight loss. Carbohydrates also hold water in the body, so we’ll also see water loss (and subsequent weight loss). All of this is exciting and people think “I’m never touching a carb again!”
HOW TO MAKE IT: Combine piece of salmon, ¼ avocado, half a tomato, and a handful of frozen corn (which will thaw by lunchtime) with 2 cups of lettuce of your choice (we like romaine). Adding a handful of cheddar cheese or crushed tortilla chips is optional. To make the dressing, combine a cup of cilantro, a clove of garlic, the juice of 1 lime, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Save half of the dressing for a salad later this week.
The last protein you’ll be cooking this week is another lean meat, pork tenderloin. Congratulations! You made it through the week without red meat! The average American eats about 3.3 oz of red meat per day. Eating too much red meat has been linked to chronic, inflammation, heart problems, cancer, and an unhealthy gut, so our flat-belly plan eschews the stuff. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it, though! Experts recommend having only 3 servings of red meat a week—but make sure it’s grass-fed beef, not grain-fed. This source is teeming with heart-healthy omega-3s and fat-burning conjugated linoleic fatty acids. It’s also lower in inflammatory saturated fats.
“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."