Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of salt in Americans' diets—and the scary part is you probably don't even realize it. Because of the way these addictive foods are formulated, salt is hidden in everything from soups to pasta sauces to even sweet things like boxed cakes. Swap out processed foods in favor of fresh fare and your tummy will thank you. Not only will you lose the salt-bloat but you'll also lose the extra empty calories and lose weight.
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.
Zero Belly Smoothies are supercharged with belly-flattening nutrients. The key: Each drink is packed with protein, healthy fats and fiber. Here’s the Mango Muscle-Up: Mix 1 scoop vegetarian protein powder, 2/3 cup frozen mango chunks, 1/2 tablespoon almond butter, and ½ cup unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk. You’ll get 29 grams of protein for just 224 calories!
That's exactly what happened when last summer I shared Zero Belly Diet with a test panel of more than 500 people, some of whom lost as much as 16 pounds in just 14 days, and up to three inches off their waist. The secret to Zero Belly Diet is the new science of nutritional genetics, the study of how our genes are turned on and off by the foods we eat. Simply making a handful of tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can help improve your gut health, dampen inflammation, turn off your fat genes and start your body shedding fat—in particular, belly fat—almost automatically.
I ask Dr. McCulloch how I ended up with a relatively slim 26-1/2-inch waist that has forced me to belt every pair of pants I've ever bought in order to cinch the gap created by wearing sizes big enough to fit my more ample bottom. The answer includes factors like body type, fat composition, and possibly even the shape of the pelvic bone, where your ab muscles attach, she says. Theoretically, a wider pelvis can translate into a broad lower abdomen and hips, compared with what's north of the belly button. "These are all variations on normal, and genetics can play a big role," she assures me.
There’s no sugar-coating it: Sugar wreaks havoc on the body. Consuming too much of the white stuff can lead to obesity, which often causes other health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Many breakfast cereals pack more sugar into one bowl than you’ll find in a Boston Kreme donut! To make matters worse, many popular varieties like Frosted Flakes and Fruity Pebbles are laced with Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) or BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole). These ingredients are banned in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Japan and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic. Speaking of scary ingredients, check out these 40 Most Horrifying Things Found in Food.
Cat Kick: Stand with feet together, arms extended out like airplane wings. Exhale, and lift the right leg forward and up. At the same time, sweep the arms forward at shoulder level and round the spine, like a cat. The navel should feel as though it's pressing toward the spine. Inhale, and open back up and return to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg, alternating for 20 repetitions.
Shrinking your belly isn’t just about what you put in your body, it’s about what’s going on in your brain, too. In a 2015 study, Brown University researchers asked nearly 400 people to complete a mindfulness awareness survey, which asked whether subjects agreed with such questions as “I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.” Then, they X-rayed the subjects’ bellies to determine their degree of belly fat. The results showed that the higher people scored on the mindfulness survey, the less visceral fat they were likely to have. People who are less mindful have, on average, an extra pound of fat inside their bellies than those who are more in tune with their everyday lives and the world around them.
Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite at Rush University Medical Center suggests filling half your plate with vegetables so you don't have room for unhealthy foods. Eating more vegetables not only helps whittle your waist, but also lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A vegetable-filled lunch might include 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 2 cups of mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 cup of roasted red potatoes. This meal contains 545 calories.
Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, the heart-healthy compounds in chocolate, that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content. We like Nibmor Extreme Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs.
Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between the gut microbiome and a healthy immune system and gastrointestinal system, as well as autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease), allergies and asthma – even cancer. And with every study that is published, they are convinced that a healthy gut leads to a healthy body. Indeed, when your gut is happy, your skin glows with health and you look and feel younger.
Speaking of fiber, another great source of the satiating nutrient is hummus and vegetables. Dippable veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, and broccoli are packed with fiber and an array of other vitamins, and they pair perfectly with the creamy chickpea dip, which has 2.5 grams of fiber per ¼ cup. By skipping unhealthy cheesy dips in favor or hummus, you’ll be doing your belly (and the rest of your body) a massive favor.
Though it's been months since its debut, the book continually spikes on Amazon's Movers and Shakers list — its roundup of the top-selling products across the site — and it's currently listed as the No. 1 bestseller in the Diet Books category. Naturally, this begs the question: What's all the hype about? Aside from the famous author — and the fact that the title suggests fixing a problem just about every human struggles with (just look at search traffic for "flat belly" and "flat stomach" exercises). Is it all just marketing hype?