Getting rid of belly fat isn't just about fitting into skinny jeans—research shows that people with less visceral belly fat (the fat that surrounds your organs) have a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So not only will losing fat help you look and feel better, it will also help ward off dangerous health issues. While there isn't one magic food that will melt away belly fat, studies have reported certain foods have special belly-fat-burning benefits, such as avocado, artichokes, whole grains, kefir, green tea, eggs, peanuts and chickpeas. These foods work in different ways to help shrink fat cells and decrease waist circumference. This 7-day meal plan incorporates these flat-belly foods, plus vegetables, whole grains, fruits and healthy fats and protein, in delicious ways to help make it easier to lose belly fat and feel great.


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.)
Think of it this way — if you were wearing a light jacket, would the type of exercise you are doing make you want to take it off? You want to choose aerobic exercises that warm your body enough that you’d want to shed a real jacket — brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, and so on. Cardiovascular exercises of this sort can burn enough calories to require your body to draw energy from (and thus “shed”) your “fat jacket.”
Cutting the amount of sugar you eat is one of the quickest and easiest ways to flatten your belly, especially if you replace that unhealthy added sugar with more fiber. In a review of 68 clinical trials and studies, New Zealand researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that increasing sugar intake meant increasing body weight while reducing sugar meant reducing body weight. Similarly, increasing fiber is another way to keep your belly lean. In a study of 1,114 people over five years, researchers reported that for every 10 grams of soluble fiber people ate, their belly fat accumulation was reduced by nearly 4 percent—even if they did nothing else to lose weight. Eat more soluble fiber with these 50 Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss!
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.
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.
Whether you’re sleeping in or up before the sun, a yogurt parfait is the perfect way to start your Sunday. Packed with protein and slow-digesting fiber, this perfectly-portioned parfait will certainly tide you over until your late lunch or brunch—providing you with long-lasting energy that will help prevent the spikes in blood sugar your typical sugary bowl of cereal would give you. That’s why this is one of our favorite healthy breakfast ideas.
Look for a brand of Greek yogurt that contains live and active cultures, which will promote healthy bacteria in your gut to prevent bloating. (These are signs you could have an unhealthy gut.) Plus, the protein in the yogurt will keep you full. Beef it up with fiber-rich oats, berries, and chia seeds for an extra filling morning meal—just don’t go overboard if your body isn’t used to digesting that much fiber, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If you’re not used to that amount of fiber it causes gas, but if you work up to it slowly, it promotes a healthy GI system,” she says. Slowly add a little more fiber to your diet every day for a flatter belly, and increase your fluid intake to aid digestion and reduce icky symptoms like diarrhea and bloating—here’s how to get more fiber into your diet without really trying.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Marinate a pound of pork tenderloin in ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger, 3 minced garlic cloves, a tablespoon of red pepper flakes, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of canola oil. Allow to sit in the fridge, chilled for 30 minutes up to 2 hours, and then allow to come to room temperature.

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. Here are other home remedies to help an upset stomach.
Stand upright with heels together, toes slightly turned out. Bring your arms up, hands joined, below the chin. Exhale and press your arms down. Keep your hands and arms very close to the body. At the same time, lift your heels off the ground onto your tiptoes. Hold for two seconds at the "top,” inhale, and return to the starting position. The abs go "in and up" and the arms go down. Do 20 reps.

The pooch is bad enough, but what's worse is the back problems an overworked rectus can create—anything from general pain to degenerative or herniated disks, says Wells. "The stronger muscles in the front of your body take over and your back muscles turn off ," he says. With nothing to hold your spine in place, the disks can shift and squish together.
I’ve completed the third line. I just realized I’ve been doing the leg lifts wrong. I was doing them as alternating, not as double. No wonder it’s felt so brutal! As I said on the Thigh challenge, I didn’t understand why there was 12 days of doing exercises 1-3 ten times, and 6 days doing exercise 4 ten times. Now that I’ve completed Day 18, it makes perfect sense. My abdominal area is getting stronger, which is helping with my belly fat. Today after doing all five exercises 10 times I thought “I’m supposed to do these 22 times?!” My next thought was “No, I’m supposed to increase these five exercises by a count of 1 over the next 11 days and finish up with 22 times.

At my first workout with her, I watched Korus demonstrate the tolasana pose. Sitting cross-legged with her palms resting on yoga blocks next to her hips, she straightened her arms and, using only her ab muscles, raised her body off the floor. When I attempted it, I couldn't even lift one butt cheek off my mat. Never mind my muffin top; I wondered how my abs had gotten so wimpy. After all, it had been eight years since I'd had my second daughter, so those muscles should have bounced back long ago.


In this book, we look at all of the ways you can improve your own gut health, starting with the food you eat. My diet recommendations, meal plans, and recipes will help feed and protect your gut microbes. And we look at the many other steps you can take to support your beneficial bacteria, from avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to changing the way you think about dirt and germs. Even the choices you make about how you bring your children into the world can have an impact on your family’s microbiomes.
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