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 themanyother 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.

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.
At my first workout with her, I watched Korus demonstrate the tolasana pose. Sitting cross-legged with her palms resting on yoga blocks next to her hips, she straightened her arms and, using only her ab muscles, raised her body off the floor. When I attempted it, I couldn't even lift one butt cheek off my mat. Never mind my muffin top; I wondered how my abs had gotten so wimpy. After all, it had been eight years since I'd had my second daughter, so those muscles should have bounced back long ago.

I think it’s totally normal. It’s just because your abs are not strong enough yet, so the rest of your body tends to compensate for it. It does the same for me, though maybe not as much as you said. But I think it’s still perfectly normal! Just keep going and one day you’ll notice that you arch less. Also, I think everyone has a space between the floor and their back when they’re lying, depending on your butt’s form :)
Take off your “fat jacket.” It’s a simple analogy, but helps make the point about the types of exercise that offer the best results for fat reduction and, in turn, a flatter stomach. Think of your body’s layer of fat covering your stomach (and elsewhere) as a “jacket” (one of its purposes, after all, is to hold in body heat). Your exercise goal is to shed that jacket.[7]
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:
Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it’s taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the Endocrine Society. Worse, that weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Instead, the researchers found, the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythms, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun. Here are the 7 ways to banish belly bloat in your sleep.
You know that light yellow color that makes margarine look almost indistinguishable from butter when laid side by side? Well, it’s far from natural. In fact, without all the additives, margarine is actually an appetite-crushing shade of grey—yuck! As if that weren’t bad enough, many brands add propylene glycol, a synthetic compound, to their recipe to add grease without adding calories. Research has shown that the spread may expand your waistline, increase dangerous cholesterol levels and up your heart disease risk. Instead of margarine, we suggest one of these 8 Best Fats for Weight Loss.
Remember that second piece of salmon? That’ll be your protein for lunch! To complement the spicy paprika on the salmon, we’ve chosen to do a take on a fajita salad. Our favorite part is the simple cilantro-lime salad dressing. Making your own dressing at home can save you 12 grams of added sugar. Don’t believe us? Check out these surprising foods with added sugar.
Wondering what C.R.A.P. is? Well, it is a group of food that does no good to your body. C for caffeine, R for refined sugar, A for alcohol and P for processed food. If you remove these four food groups from your life, you can live your dream of a flat belly. One of the biggest enemies of a flat stomach, these groups cling to your bodies and make it difficult for you to lose fat.
It's an all-too-common problem once you hit thirty: Despite your best efforts, you just can't seem to lose the extra weight around your middle, and you look in the mirror wondering what month and year you lost your waistline. Medical research proves you're not alone—that the average American gains one to two pounds a year after age thirty—usually around the stomach. Not only does this excess belly fat make you look and feel bad, it's the most damaging kind of fat; a precursor to heart attacks and certain types of cancer.
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).

Munching on the right snacks throughout the day is one of the best ways to shrink your waistline. Need proof? According to a recent study, researchers found participants lost significantly more body weight when they incorporated low-sugar, high-protein snacks into their daily food routine. Fitting in healthy, high protein snacks (such as a handful of unsalted almonds) helps to maintain blood-sugar levels—which keeps your brain from triggering hunger pangs—and stops your body from indulging in unhealthy foods after what feels like a long day of starvation.
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.
Your brain takes about 20 to 30 minutes to register fullness signals from your stomach. If you finish in just 15 minutes, you might go for seconds, thinking you’re still hungry, says Rumsey. Eating more slowly will give your body time to realize if it’s full, plus it can help you swallow less air into your digestive tract. “You tend to swallow more air when eating fast, and that can cause bloat,” says Rumsey. Put your fork down between bites so you don’t end up shoveling food in your mouth, and count to 20 before you swallow each forkful, recommends Crandall.
Your body can retain water when your sodium and potassium levels are out of whack, Bannan says. In addition to keeping sodium in check, consume potassium-rich foods to maintain the balance and de-puff your belly. Try incorporating 1 medium baked potato without skin (610mg), 1/2 cup white beans (595mg), 1 cup cooked spinach (839mg), 10 dates (466mg), or 1 cup edamame (676mg) daily.

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.
• Too much estrogen circulating in the body increases body fat, and fatty tissue within the body produces and stores more estrogen. Body fat contains an enzyme that converts adrenal steroids to estrogen. At a cellular level, body fat continues to produce more estrogen, and a high estrogen level, in turn, causes the body to increase its store of fatty tissue. In other words, your belly becomes a 'fat magnet.'

Protein drinks are great ways to get a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition into a delicious, simple snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. And the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat. (Here's a complete guide to easy-to-digest plant proteins.)
Chewing gum when you’re hungry fills your tummy with extra air, causing bloat. Many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, which can lead to bloating. Skip the gum altogether or opt for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. IBS symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and bloating—So. Much. Bloating. While the causes aren’t all known, it’s thought to be linked to lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, hormones, and stress. Sufferers often find that making changes in these areas eliminates or reduces their IBS (and their stomach circumference!). Here’s how these 10 myths about fat can keep you from losing weight.
“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."
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