As this video from the PictureFit YouTube channel explains, the only guaranteed way to get a flat stomach is through—brace yourself—diet and exercise. To be more precise, you need to use up the fat you have stored around your abs. But because spot reducing is a myth, you’ll have to focus on reducing the fat throughout your entire body. To do that, you’ll need to burn more calories than you put in every day, but it’s more complicated than “eat less, move more.” You need to eat fewer carbs while increasing your lean protein intake. Why? Your body will try to burn carbs for energy first, but if you haven’t ingested many carb-heavy foods, your body will target fat for energy instead. Plus, protein makes you feel full longer. You also need to incorporate resistance training in your workouts to keep yourself from losing muscle mass in addition to fat (more muscle means burning more calories naturally). Low intensity cardio training can help with burning more calories each day, but it won’t help you retain muscle, so make sure it’s not the only thing you do.
Don’t fret about having to cook tonight, this sheet-pan supper is super simple. You’ll be making a piece of sockeye salmon (or wild salmon of your choice, just not farmed Atlantic) with roasted asparagus and brown rice. An important part of the flat-belly diet is getting in those anti-inflammatory, brain-protecting omega-3s that will help you lose weight and improve your health, and salmon is teeming with them. Plus, you’ll get in a serving of prebiotics via the asparagus to start healing your gut and decrease the inflammation that’s causing weight gain.
Adequate sleep plays an integral role in our weight. This is because our metabolism dictates everything from the rate we burn calories to when and where we store fat. And your metabolism is simply your biochemistry / hormone balance. For this reason, when we don’t sleep the body doesn’t release as much fat burning HGH, and conversely it releases more of the belly fat stress hormone cortisol as well as an appetite enhancing hormone called Ghrelin. Be sure to get your shut eye. 8 hours a night is preferable, but 7 will suffice.
The next part of the plan aims to reduce inflammation. Belly fat has been linked to inflammation and elevated cortisol (the stress hormone). Belly fat is even thought to be "toxic" to your system as it releases chemicals into your body that wreak havoc on your appetite and the way your body metabolizes food. That's why anti-inflammatory foods are thought to be effective in fighting belly fat and breaking the vicious cycle.
Flat-Belly Bonus: Fiber-rich lentils feed healthy gut bacteria and keep things moving along smoothly in your gut to prevent bloating and constipation. And adding dark leafy greens (as we do in tonight's dinner) helps you take in fewer calories without increasing hunger. As per Harvard University research, vegetables are the number one food that promotes weight loss.
Crunches address your abdominal muscles, but you also need to do exercises to hit the other major muscle groups including the legs, hips, shoulders, chest, back and arms. At least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of exercises for all of these muscle groups -- including crunches -- completes a total body routine and will help tone your stomach area faster than crunches alone. Once you can do that without getting too tired, repeat each exercise set two or three times, or make them harder by adding weight. The important thing is to continue challenging your body if you want to see continued improvement.
With our new 21-Day Tummy plan, you will be eating more anti-inflammatory foods, especially those rich in magnesium, and fewer carb-dense foods and FODMAPs (rapidly fermentable carbohydrates that can aggravate your gut). This plan helped my fellow testers and me shrink our stomachs (by up to 4 1/2 inches in one case!) and ease our tummy troubles. At least two people stopped taking prescription drugs for heartburn entirely, and GI symptoms disappeared completely for several testers.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Using leftover pork from yesterday, throw together a Thai pork salad. Combine a quarter pound of pork (a third of the leftovers), 2 cups romaine lettuce, ¼ red bell pepper, ½ cup cilantro leaves, and 1 shredded carrot. Top with the rest of the cilantro-lime dressing. We like the two-dressing combo with some peanut sauce. To make, combine ½ tablespoon of peanut butter, a squirt of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, and enough water to thin it out.
Before hitting the hay, prepare breakfast for half of the week tonight! This recipe makes enough for 4 breakfasts, of which we’re only using 3 servings this week, so you can finish the last serving next Sunday (just throw a portion in the freezer tomorrow to keep it fresh)! We’re using the overnight oats method to cut down on time since we’ve chosen to use one of the longer-cooking oats, steel-cut. They might take longer to prepare, but steel-cut oats are one of the best cuts out there. They’re lower on the glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, meaning they’ll keep you fuller, longer. These oats are also loaded with vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin), which are so important, the government usually enriches your cereal with them!
“The plank is a favorite, but we take it to another level opening and closing the legs like scissors while at the same time raising and dropping the hips! So not only are you strengthening the core but also timing the hips, thighs and waist. [We also do] the trunk twist along with a back row using the bands. The benefit of this exercise will give you flat abs and coke bottle obliques while removing those fat handles from the back and arms.”
It's called a "beer belly" for a reason. Boozy bubbles are a major cause of belly bloat, as anyone who's ever looked in the mirror after a few too many drinks can attest. But it's not just the carbonation that is the culprit. Alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your stomach, leading to gas, not to mention all the empty calories that are going straight to your waistline. Instead, skip the alcohol altogether or limit yourself to one serving per day.
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!”
Core compressions: Sit tall in a chair with your feet hip-width apart and your belly flattened toward your spine. Place one hand on your upper abs and the other on your lower. Take a deep breath in, then exhale forcefully to draw your abdominal muscles in even tighter, keeping your back straight and still. Continue for five minutes, focusing on slow, complete tightening of the muscles. Do two sets.
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.
But talking in expert technicalities, let's get real: there's no hard and fast way to get rid of belly fat. You may think that you can spot reduce, but ask any PT worth their REPS Level 3 qualification – the certificate your fitness pro should have – and they'll bust this belly myth. That's because your body decides where it wants to store fat, not you.
As for celebrity fad diets, Stork says he's suspicious. “I'm wary of all celebrity fad diets. I think when we started hosting 'The Doctors' is when the maple syrup diet came out, and it was all about, 'Oh pour a little maple syrup with lemon,' and I was like, 'No, no, that's not going to cure you of all that ails you. I think people need to be careful with celebrities because we always forget … celebrities have a lot of money and access to a lot of things that most normal people don't."