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.
Start each day by making a large pitcher of "spa water"—that's water filled with sliced whole lemons, oranges, or grapefruits—and make a point of sipping your way through at least eight glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant D-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization. For added belly-blasting benefits, brew yourself a pot of green tea, one of the five best teas for weight loss.
When you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, it’s important to make each calorie count by choosing low-calorie, high-nutrition foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. The tables available through the Mayo Clinic provide examples of how making some relatively simple food “swaps” and portion alterations can help significantly reduce your calorie intake.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cook down ½ large onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 package of chopped spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil until onions are tender. In a separate bowl, combine three-quarters of a pound of lean ground turkey with a third of a cup of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, and then the cooled onion and spinach. Season with salt, pepper, dried thyme and oregano, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Combine with hands, and use two-thirds of the mixture to form 12 small meatballs.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Reheat burger patty in a flat iron skillet on medium-high. On the other side of the pan, drop a tablespoon of grass-fed butter onto the skillet and warm up an English muffin until brown. Remove bun. After about 3 minutes, top turkey burger with a handful of cheddar cheese, pour a tablespoon of water onto the pan, and cover the pan with a lid. Once the cheese has melted, remove, place on top of the bun, and layer on a slice of tomato, avocado, and top off with some dijon mustard. Serve with a side salad of arugula (or lettuce of your choice) with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
A healthy lunch should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, with the other half split between whole grains and protein, says Rumsey. “That way, you have some carbs but not too much,” she says. Pick a dressing low in sugar and sodium—olive oil with balsamic vinegar will give you a little healthy fat to keep you full and help absorb nutrients from your veggies. (Here are more food combinations that help you get the most health benefits.) Add at least three vegetables, 3 to 6 ounces of a protein like chicken or beans, and just a thumb-sized amount of extras for crunch or flavor such as dried fruit, croutons, and olives, says Rumsey. Double wash canned beans before adding them to your salad to rinse away their gas-forming, bloat-producing properties, says Crandall.
Maximize belly-fat loss by boosting anti-inflammatory foods that are high in magnesium and monounsaturated fatty acids. You’ll continue to enjoy one Belly Soother Smoothie per day, but your other meals will be larger, to keep your metabolism humming. Here, we introduce fiber-rich and carb-light grains—quinoa and oat bran—and pair them with magnesium-rich fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, plus MUFA-rich oils and other foods, to create filling stir-fries and protein-packed dinners that will keep you fueled up and feeling good.
Hold a resistance band taut between your hands and lie on the floor face up, with legs extended and arms overhead. Pull abs in, tuck your chin, lift arms toward the ceiling, and roll head, shoulders, and torso up and over your legs as far as you can. Keep heels firmly on the floor and reach your hands towards your feet. Pause, then slowly roll back down. Do 5 to 8 reps with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week.
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.
In this book, we look at all of the ways you can improve your own gut health, starting with the food you eat. My diet recommendations, meal plans, and recipes will help feed and protect your gut microbes. And we look at the many other steps you can take to support your beneficial bacteria, from avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to changing the way you think about dirt and germs. Even the choices you make about how you bring your children into the world can have an impact on your family’s microbiomes.