“Dance cardio really is an amazing way to trim belly fat because it is going to help shed fat on the body as a whole. It is obviously a cardio workout, but because your body is forced to move in all different directions in different planes, it is making every single muscle in your body work. Similar to the benefits of a HIIT workout, you get the cardio plus toning benefit all in one,” Hope explains. So try a dance-centric class at your gym or turn up your iPod and bust some moves at home.

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.
We know pasta is a weeknight staple, which is why we had to include it in our meal plan. But instead of using refined, inflammation-inducing white-flour pasta, we’re using a spaghetti squash. It’s just one of our favorite pasta tips to stay skinny because not only is its glycemic index lower than spaghetti, it’s also higher in micronutrients like vitamin A, folic acid, and potassium.

Flat Belly begins with a restrictive four-day anti-bloat regimen comprised of four 300-calorie meals a day. Lots of baby carrots, cucumbers, skim milk, chicken breast and tilapia will be on the menu. Then you'll progress to a monthlong eating plan that calls for three 400-calorie meals and one 400-calorie snack a day. Each meal includes a precise amount of one monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), such as 1 cup of soybeans, 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips or 2 tablespoons of olive tapenade. Meals also emphasize lean protein, whole grains, veggies and fruit.
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.
Sure, summer is all about the flat belly—hello bikini season!—but why not tone some other parts of your body while you’re at it? By pairing split lunges with bicep curls you’ll be giving your legs, abs, and arms a workout. Mark, who advises doing this exercise with 1-liter water bottles, says, “Even though you aren’t actively moving your abs, they play a huge role in keeping your spine upright during this exercise, so please make sure you keep them engaged throughout the entire movement. This one makes your entire body tremble—so get ready!”
Your body needs some sodium to function, but too much can lead to fluid retention in the gut, Henderiks says. Put down the shaker and forgo processed and prepared foods as much as possible in favor of homemade meals so you can control the salt. Experts recommend maxing out at 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day, but this is one time when less is better.
It could take months before you start to notice a difference, so don’t expect the process to be easy. And if you do manage to develop a nice, toned six pack, it probably won’t change your life. You don’t need a perfectly flat tummy or washboard abs to be healthy and look good. Keep in mind, people can’t see your abs under your clothing, it’s hard work maintaining them (nonstop dieting), and the low levels of body fat required to have a flat stomach may actually leave you looking less athletic and attractive. So, if you really want a flat stomach, get ready to fight for it. Otherwise, just shoot for being healthy.
Get more "bang" for your ab-exercise "buck." Ideally, instead of focusing on muscle-toning exercises that target only your abdominals, you should seek out alternatives that utilize other muscle groups as well. They often require more exertion, which can help with fat burning. Also, additional muscle tone in the back, chest, shoulders, legs, etc. can improve posture and otherwise help make your belly appear slimmer.
It's not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that's published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.
You have 80 trillion microbes in your belly, and most of them are angry. Healthy fiber is what we call “prebiotic,” meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them fight inflammation and fat gain. Fiber-rich sources of carbs are BPA-free canned black and garbanzo beans, peas, peanuts, peanut butter, old-fashioned oats, quinoa and brown rice. Looking for tasty ways to enjoy your oatmeal? Check out these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes!
HOW TO MAKE IT: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a 1 pound, small spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place in an oven-safe baking dish, flesh-side up, and pour about 2 tablespoons of water into each half. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until tender. In the meantime, pour a serving of marinara sauce into a small saucepan along with 6 of the mini meatballs to begin to heat up and defrost. Cover. Once the squash is done, pour out the water and use a fork to scrape long, spaghetti-like strands from the flesh onto your plate. Save the other half of the squash for lunch tomorrow.

Crunches work the upper abdomen, leg raises work the lower abdomen, and side bends work the obliques (also known as love handles). About 15-25 reps each day should be enough. If you can do more than that, try adding weights to your routine. Note that doing crunches will only build muscle underneath your existing belly fat, but will not burn that fat directly.


Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry’s “top hits” could translate into serious sugar savings, according to researchers at Google. The study, dubbed “Project M&M,” found that storing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones help curb M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. In the study, they also gave healthier snacks more prominent shelf space. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For more sugar-curbing tips, grab a copy of The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet.

Dinner: Steak Kabobs. Think steak is off limits in a healthy diet? Think again! Lean cuts of beef can provide much needed iron and vitamins. With plenty of veggies, these kabobs are a great choice: http://www.recipe.com/beef-and-vegetable-kabobs/ *omit sugar in recipe and use stevia or honey instead. A small baked potato drizzled with olive oil is perfect.

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. Discover the hidden culprit behind the 'middle-age spread'--and the simple plan that's helped hundreds of women over 30 break the fat cycle! The result? Well within four weeks you'll lose pounds and inches… and reveal the flat belly--and the health and vitality that go along with it.
As we grow older, our metabolism dips and more fat begins to accumulate around our waistline, giving us that ‘spare tyre’! But getting rid of belly fat is not just about appearances. Studies say that people with a large midriff are 2.75 times more likely to die of heart disease, even if they are within a healthy weight range. The fat stored in your belly region is more dangerous than the fat stored in the rest of your body. It increases bad LDL cholesterol, messes with your blood sugar, increases your blood pressure and your risk of having a heart attack. In short, having that spare tyre is more dangerous than simply being overweight!
Stoke your body with meals that combine belly-friendly fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats so you never feel hungry. We’ll stay largely carb-light, but now you’re ready to reintroduce sweets to your diet, with a delicious dessert every other day. Meals feature an ideal balance of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat, which research indicates is the best mix for decreasing inflammation and improving digestion. It’s the combination we recommend you stick with for life.
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.
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.

Now that we know how important it is to get rid of belly fat, let us see how it gets there in the first place. Men have a tendency to hold excess fat in their bellies, though women are more prone to store it in their hips and thighs – a protection offered by hormones. However, menopause removes this protection, making women equally vulnerable. An apple shaped woman will also have this vulnerability, mainly due to her genes. Other reasons include more calorie intake, mainly from processed food, alcohol and trans fats as well as bloating due to gassy foods.

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. Discover the hidden culprit behind the 'middle-age spread'--and the simple plan that's helped hundreds of women over 30 break the fat cycle! The result? Well within four weeks you'll lose pounds and inches… and reveal the flat belly--and the health and vitality that go along with it.


Look for a brand of Greek yogurt that contains live and active cultures, which will promote healthy bacteria in your gut to prevent bloating. (These are signs you could have an unhealthy gut.) Plus, the protein in the yogurt will keep you full. Beef it up with fiber-rich oats, berries, and chia seeds for an extra filling morning meal—just don’t go overboard if your body isn’t used to digesting that much fiber, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If you’re not used to that amount of fiber it causes gas, but if you work up to it slowly, it promotes a healthy GI system,” she says. Slowly add a little more fiber to your diet every day for a flatter belly, and increase your fluid intake to aid digestion and reduce icky symptoms like diarrhea and bloating—here’s how to get more fiber into your diet without really trying.

Think of it this way — if you were wearing a light jacket, would the type of exercise you are doing make you want to take it off? You want to choose aerobic exercises that warm your body enough that you’d want to shed a real jacket — brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, and so on. Cardiovascular exercises of this sort can burn enough calories to require your body to draw energy from (and thus “shed”) your “fat jacket.”
“Proper sleep is crucial for weight loss. Too little sleep leads to poor food choices, largely due to increased levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Too little sleep also decreases levels of leptin, a hormone that helps satiate your appetite. Lack of sleep also clouds judgment and causes impulse decision making, which inevitably leads to poor food choices,” adds founder and Certified Sleep Science Coach at SleepZoo, Chris Brantner.
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.
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.
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.)
Seated medicine ball twists are a great way to get a toned midsection because they target your obliques while also engaging your abdominals and lower back muscles. When doing this exercise, Mark advises people to keep their feet on the ground. “This one is all about form, so keep your feet on the ground, lean back just enough to feel an engagement in your abdominals, and make a nice full turn with your shoulders,” he explains, noting you should feel that satisfying core burn in no time.
DR. RANDOLPH: Synthetic hormone drugs, such as the popularly-prescribed Premarin and Prempro family of products, have been shown to be very dangerous, increasing a woman's risk of breast cancer, blood clotting, stroke and even Alzheimer's disease. That is because these synthetic hormones have a very different molecular structure than the ones produced by the ovaries.
“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes. You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist."
Honestly, children and young teens shouldn't push themselves too hard, however, if desperate try drinking cold iced water before every meal (helps lose excess fat), eating smaller portions, and doing 10-30 minutes of exercise in the morning. Also, leisure activities like swimming are great for working abs and the rest of your body at the same time.
Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite at Rush University Medical Center suggests filling half your plate with vegetables so you don't have room for unhealthy foods. Eating more vegetables not only helps whittle your waist, but also lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A vegetable-filled lunch might include 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 2 cups of mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 cup of roasted red potatoes. This meal contains 545 calories.
The book itself doesn't get tediously microbiome-focused, though. The first section of The Lose Your Belly Diet sets the stage, then part two goes into which foods can give you that healthy mix of gut bacteria. Part three focuses on other ways to boost your stomach's microbiome health (avoiding antibiotics when you don't need them, exercise, and what probiotic supplements to take, namely), while part four gets actionable, providing a diet quiz, recipes, and a meal plan.
×