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.
A classic Pilates move, the roll up is 38 percent more effective at targeting the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”) and 245 percent more effective at targeting the obliques than a basic crunch, according to an Auburn University study. To do it, lie face-up with legs straight, ankles, knees, and thighs together. Flex feet and extend arms overhead. Inhale to prepare as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. On your exhale, continue to roll up by drawing in abdominals, reaching arms up and over toward feet. Keep abdominals contracted, with spine rounded in a “C” curve. Pause and inhale. On your exhale, roll down through each vertebra in a controlled movement, keeping heels pressed evenly into the floor the entire way up and down. Do 15 reps as controlled and precise as you can, as many days a week as possible.
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.
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry’s “top hits” could translate into serious sugar savings, according to researchers at Google. The study, dubbed “Project M&M,” found that storing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones help curb M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. In the study, they also gave healthier snacks more prominent shelf space. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For more sugar-curbing tips, grab a copy of The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet.
Slouch and your stomach pooches. Straighten up, and your tummy looks trimmer without breaking a sweat! For better posture, align your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and knees over ankles. Keep your shoulders open like a shirt on a hanger, not one draped on a peg. Draw your navel to your spine. Not least, keep your weight even on the balls of your feet and your heels.
Simply put, artificial sweeteners cause belly fat. A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity. In the study of older adults, researchers found those who drank diet soda each day experienced more than triple the increase in waist size over the course of nine years, so put down the Diet Coke and don’t even think about reaching for some Equal to put in your morning coffee.
Keeping a food journal is an easy way to control your weight and help you become more aware of any belly-bloating triggers, Bannan says. Write down what you're eating and how your stomach feels throughout the day, and you might discover what isn't treating your tummy kindly. Ask yourself: Do I feel gassy? Am I overfull after just a few bites of certain foods? Does my stomach make sounds or feel swollen following specific meals?