When people hear the term hormonal imbalance, most immediately think about the change of life, menopause. Although it's true that women going through menopause have significant hormonal changes, the issues associated with hormonal imbalance, such as abdominal weight gain, typically begin in a woman's early to mid-thirties and a man's early forties.
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called "the belly fat" hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn't good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it's important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn't? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)
If you are a woman in your thirties, you need to understand that estrogen dominance is not 'your mother's problem.' For most women, estrogen dominance is a concern to be reckoned with long before middle age or menopause. As a woman approaches her midthirties, the balance of hormones within her body begins to shift, starting with a decline in progesterone. In fact, progesterone production declines 120 times more rapidly than does estrogen production. It is this downward shift in progesterone production that causes the body to become estrogen dominant.
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.
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.
When it comes to ab flab, there are two ways to tackle the problem: Either burn blubber or suck it in with stronger muscles. "Even if you don't lose fat, you can improve your waistline by toning your muscles," says Michele Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama.
If you're after a sleeker middle, add dairy to your diet. Research shows that its proteins increase satiety and cause you to eat less. My choice: homemade Parmesan crisps. Preheat oven to 350; line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide 2 cups grated Parmesan into 2-Tbsp. portions. Form each into a small pile and press with the back of a fork. Bake until melted and flat, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with chopped cooked vegetables (I love spinach, squash or eggplant).
Starting a Meatless Monday tradition is a great way to drop a few pounds because it increases your intake of fiber and a host of other nutrients. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and the lowest body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which are known to possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers, so try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains a few times a month.
So cook up some oatmeal—and top it with some fruit. What's so magical about this combination? Each provides insoluble fiber that helps reduce blood cholesterol and feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. By doing so, you trigger your gut to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that reduces fat-causing inflammation throughout your body. In a Canadian study, researchers discovered that those whose diets were supplemented with insoluble fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—a hormone that controls hunger. (Try these two-minute oatmeal recipes that'll make you an oatmeal fan forever.)
Essentially, that meal plan involves eating plenty of leafy greens and fiber-rich vegetables, as well as high-fiber, low-sugar fruits, like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and pears. He also recommends two to three servings of whole grains per day, as well as six to seven servings of protein — with a preference for nuts, legumes, fish, and dairy over beef, pork, and chicken.