What causes it? Your genes, for one thing. "Some families just carry most of their weight in their bellies, no matter how thin they are," says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., author of The MD Factor Diet. But visceral fat gets worse for all of us as we get older, especially if we're under a lot of stress or not sleeping well, says nutritionist Sara Vance, author of The Perfect Metabolism Plan. That's thanks to hormones that make us hungrier even as our bodies are practically hoarding fat.
WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
Carbohydrates hold water in your body, which may make your belly bloat. Plus, high-carb, high-sugar breakfast foods like bagels or cereal might fill you up initially, but you’ll probably end up searching for more food within an hour, says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. “Those digest pretty rapidly, and then your blood sugar spikes up and drops back down pretty quickly because they digest so fast,” she says. That extra morning munching will likely add up to more calories and bloat than you would have had if you’d started with a more filling breakfast. Be sure to follow these other daily habits that reduce bloating and flatten your belly, too.
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.
Eating eggs is a low-cost way to incorporate belly fat-fighting protein into your diet. Studies show those who ate two eggs for breakfast lost 65% more weight than those who opted for a carby bagel, so start your day with a MUFA-packed scramble or take a hard boiled egg for a slimming midday snack. (Start the day off right with these 10 belly-flattening breakfasts.)
“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."
Whereas many beverages can increase your waistline (see above), there is one that is guaranteed to trim your tummy: water. Drinking plain ol' H2O works because staying fully hydrated tells your body it's okay to release any extra water it's retaining, decreasing the accompanying bloat. Plus, drinking water has been proven to reduce cravings for sweets, lower your appetite, and help you feel satiated faster.
And as for whether doing “The Bachelor” set him on this TV career path, Stork claims he never had any intention to pursue the limelight. “I didn’t even have a goal of doing TV after "The Bachelor," said Stork. "That’s what is interesting. So no, I went to dinner one night, ended up as 'The Bachelor' because a casting director was there … Then I went back to practicing medicine and then that's when Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw called."
Below you’ll find some of our favorite recipes to get you through the week. Each day (complete with three meals) comes out to under 1,300 calories, which you can add to with any of our flat-belly approved snacks. Every recipe incorporates ingredients that help you burn fat, boost your metabolism, heal your gut, reduce weight-inducing inflammation, and keep you fuller longer—so you won’t be reaching for that 3 p.m. diet soda. (And by the way, the ingredients listed are for one person, and can easily be doubled or quadrupled if you’re cooking for a crowd.)
To the contrary of other diet books, C.W. Randolph, M.D., a champion for women's health, explains that the real reason behind this problem has less to do with calories, carbs, or crunches and everything to do with a little-known but very real medical problem called 'estrogen dominance.' By treating thousands of women safely and effectively for over two decades, Dr. Randolph has discovered why we are in the midst of an estrogen epidemic and how you can save your waistline . . . and your health . . . using his 3-step plan comprised of an anti-estrogenic diet, natural progesterone supplementation, and exercise. You'll learn:
How many times have you made it your goal to have a healthy week of eating right? And how many times did that goal fly out the window by Wednesday? We get it. One of the hardest hurdles to jump over when it comes to eating well is preparation and a plan. And most of us just don’t have the time! That’s why we’ve come up with a realistic flat-belly meal plan for a healthy week. After all, study after study shows that healthy home cooking is the fastest way to weight loss success. You’ll learn to cook simple, time-saving recipes that we bet you’ll add to your weekly rotation.
For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your belly will carry almost 4% less fat. Thankfully, there are more enjoyable ways to increase your fiber than scarfing down a box of bran flakes: Two apples, ½ cup of pinto beans, 1 artichoke, or 2 cups of broccoli will all give you 10 grams of belly-flattening fiber. Here are 6 more tasty ways to get your 10 g.
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.
To start off your quest for a flat belly this summer, why not begin with a simple and versatile exercise you can do whenever you have a spare 5 minutes? Flat planks engage your core, and according to Eat This, Not That! For Abs author Mark Langowski, they are “the single most effective move that works every muscle in your body.” Whether you’re doing some flat planks while you watch TV at night or in your office during some downtime, they will have your abs (and the rest of you) looking fit and toned in no time. “If you can only do it for 30 seconds before collapsing, try to add 10 seconds to it each time you attempt it,” Mark advises. “Do this for three sets every other day and you’ll start seeing results!”
Since the best way to lose weight and stay in shape involves a combination eating right and exercising, we’ve included both types of tips on our list, and also interspersed some valuable habits to keep in mind if you’re looking for a flat belly. While tossing some berries and nuts into your oatmeal is a great way to boost your intake of satiating protein and fiber that will transform your tummy for the better, so too is doing some core-engaging flat planks. Couple those adjustments with ensuring you get a solid eight hours of sleep each night, and watch the belly fat disappear faster than the sunscreen you can never seem to buy enough of.
You are the best. I have been trying for ages to get all the flab off my belly because I’m going on holidays in the summer and on my last holiday I could not wear a bikini, and now finally my belly is tin.Last year my bikinis were just sitting in my suitcase waiting to come out ( even though they weren’t going to come out), but this year there going to be the first thing out of my suitcase.
To lose body fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. When trying to lose belly fat, the Harvard Medical School says you should not cut back so much that it makes it too difficult for you to stick to your weight-loss plan. To lose 1/2 pound to 1 pound a week, you need to reduce your overall calorie intake by 250 calories to 500 calories a day. Tracking your calorie intake before you start your diet can give you an idea of how many calories you currently eat and how many you need to lose weight. The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute says most men can safely lose weight limiting intake to 1,500 calories to 1,800 calories a day.
WHAT'S GOING ON: There are two kinds of belly fat: There's the stuff right under your skin that you can pinch (ugh), called subcutaneous fat. But that's actually the less harmful kind. It's visceral fat that poses a real threat to your health. It plumps your middle from the inside out, surrounding organs such as your liver, lungs, and heart—and putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Kristen Gill Hairston, M.D., an endocrinologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.
Another imbalance that plagues the abs is between the obliques, the muscles that cinch your sides. You have two sets on both your right and left, and if you show them love, they'll give you a nice hourglass shape. Sadly, your left obliques start out at a disadvantage, says Hahn. Blame your heart, which takes up extra space and makes the obliques difficult to tone—an issue that's compounded if you're right-handed. "Think about where your mouse pad is," says Hahn. "Then you shake hands, change the radio station in the car—you do so much with your right side, making it stronger."
Here at Nerd Fitness, we’re a fan of the idea behind the Paleo Diet (we’re more “Paleo-ish” though), as it covers the list we just outlined above and gives you a simple, if strict, framework to follow. Even if you don’t follow things to the letter, a Paleo-ish diet – and the countless resources that have sprung up for it – are a great starting point for many people.
I understood how she felt. Obesity shortened my own father's life, and for most of my childhood, I struggled with an extra 25 pounds as well. I figured it was my genetic destiny to be fat, too. But then I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I've made it my life's work to learn everything there is to know about belly fat. But nothing in my 20 years of health journalism has prepared me for the groundbreaking research that has emerged in just the last year—new science that shows exactly how we can turn off our fat genes and lose weight almost automatically.
Do aerobic exercises daily. Sure, you can do 100 crunches a day, but if you've got a layer of belly fat covering up your ab work then what's the point? You need to burn the top layer of stomach fat to see the changes. Cardio exercises will heat up your core temperature and improve circulation, both of which will aid in acquiring a flat stomach. Strive for at least 30 minutes a day minimum, but include 1-2 days of rest each week.
First, the good. Once I had their creams I stopped synthetic hormones one day and went on the creams the next. I never felt a twinge, plus I began sleeping better for the first time in years. So, I highly recommend Dr. Randolph's creams. (Previously when I tried to stop synthetics I developed the equivalent of "PMS-run-wild", so I always went back on.)
Reading the nutrition label of packaged foods is important, but you also want to carefully review the ingredients list. While the nutrition label will tell you how many calories and grams of fat and sugar are in the food, the ingredients list will tell you what’s exactly in it. Ask yourself: Does it have processed oils? What is the source of the sugar content? Are there food additives?
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.
Dr. Travis Stork is an Emmy®-nominated host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors, and a board-certified emergency medicine physician. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned his M.D. with honors from the University of Virginia, being elected into the prestigious honor society of Alpha Omega Alpha for outstanding academic achievement. Based on his experiences as an ER physician, Dr. Stork is passionate about teaching people simple methods to prevent illness before it happens with the goal of maximizing time spent enjoying life while minimizing time spent as a "patient." Dr. Stork is a New York Times #1 bestselling author of “The Doctor’s Diet,” “The Doctor’s Diet Cookbook,” “The Lean Belly Prescription,” and “The Doctor Is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness.” An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Stork is a devotee of mountain and road biking, whitewater kayaking and hiking with his loyal dog of nearly seventeen years, Nala.