A flat belly is something many of us dream about, but how can you achieve it? It won’t happen immediately in just a couple of days, so don’t think you can starve yourself before a date and be at that magical weight; it’s not healthy, and it’s physically impossible. However, over time, with the right food and exercise, you can get there.
How To Get a Flat Belly
First of all, think about what you eat, and when. Now it might sound obvious but eat healthily. Eat lean protein such as beans, nuts, and meat (as long as you don’t eat the fat!), whole grains because they make you feel fuller for much longer, so you eat less and switch your regular dairy foods for the low-fat options.
Good Fats vs Bad Fats
Eating fat does sound like the opposite of what you’d want to do, and you do want to avoid the trans fats found in processed foods and baked goods. However, monounsaturated fats can actually help you lose weight. Eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are good fats, and they have the ability to prevent tummy fat from accumulating around your middle which is considered to be the most dangerous type of fat you can get.
Check out the Mediterranean diet because it is a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids and linked to heaps of health benefits and that includes stomach fat. Look out for foods like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.
One thing that can be a short and long-term help is watching your sodium levels; sodium makes your body retain water, so you end up looking bloated, especially around the waist, so avoid high sodium foods like soy sauce, and look for alternatives such as sea salt instead of regular salt.
Also, cut back on the amount of sugar you eat; as well as reducing your calories, you’ll also be reducing your insulin levels, increasing the amount of glucagon, so more glucose is burned as energy and not stored as fat. As well as thinking about the actual foods you’re eating, think about when you eat them, and how much.
Experts recommend eating a high-protein snack around 3-4 pm; this balances your blood sugar which again lowers your insulin level. Some people might think that eating less will help, for example skipping breakfast or lunch.
However, it makes you hungrier so you will end up eating more food to compensate. Instead of skipping meals, eat smaller more frequent meals.
To make your portions smaller; try using smaller plates, so you think that you’re eating more, and also chew and eat slowly as it takes a while for the food to reach your stomach and for you to realize you’re not hungry anymore. Never eat 2-3 hours before bedtime; you’re usually less active and relaxing so the calories will be stored as fat and not burnt as energy.
Eat more soluble fibers
Soluble fibers will absorb a lot of water as well as slow down the passing of your food through your digestive tract. This delays your stomach emptying, which in turn causes it to expand, to make you feel full. Soluble fiber decreases the number of calories your body absorbs from food.
You are less likely to accumulate any fat around your organs which will reduce your waist circumference. Great sources of soluble fibers are flaxseeds, oats, legumes, avocados, blackberries, and Brussel Sprouts.
Taking Probiotics is a top priority
Probiotics are live bacteria and play a big role in weight loss and also maintaining your weight. Obese people seem to have a different composition of gut bacteria than normal-weighted people do, which can influence weight gain and fat distribution.
Regularly taking in probiotics might shift the balance towards beneficial gut flora, and might reduce the risk of weight gain and accumulation of fat in the abdominal cavity. These are strains of probiotics that are really effective:
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus amylovorus
- Lactobacillus gasseri
Probiotic foods are kefir, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, pickles, and sauerkraut. If you buy a supplement, just make sure you choose one that contains the strains mentioned above.
Cut refined carbs
When you limit your carb intake, you are giving your body some powerful health benefits, particularly in the weight loss area. Low carb diets are known to target the fat that is lodged around your organs and which makes your waistline expand.
All you have to do is simply replace refined carbs with whole food carbs that are not processed. Studies show that people who take in a lot of whole grains are less likely to carry excess abdominal fat than those who eat high diets of refined carbs
Try some resistance training
When you diet, a common side effect is a loss of muscle mass, which can be pretty detrimental to your metabolic rate. When you lose muscle mass, it decreases the number of calories you burn every day.
Doing some resistance exercises will help to prevent this muscle loss and help you maintain your metabolic rate. With resistance training, you will notice a tightening in your middle section as well as a reduction in your waist size. When you combine resistance training with aerobic exercise this proves to be very effective for slimming down your stomach
Standing exercises are better than sitting ones
When you perform exercises while standing you derive more benefits than if you were sitting or even using weight machines. When you stand, you activate more muscles which help you to maintain your balance and hold up your weight, and therefore more energy is spent working out.
Studies show that standing exercises increased more muscle activation by 7–25% when compared to sitting. Also, standing exercises improve your breathing over sitting ones as well.
Strengthen your core
Yes, crunches and other abdominal exercises are going to benefit you and help you get that desired flat stomach – your health will improve and definitely your appearance.
When you do regular core exercises you are strengthening your abdominal muscles, which help also to prevent backaches that can result from weak posture. When you have a strong core, you improve your posture and build up your spine – you straight away look taller and more confident.
That means your belly muscles are also strengthened to hold in the belly and help you look leaner. Try and do core exercises that will engage all your core muscles. These can be planks or Pilates roll-ups.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar into your diet
Apple cider vinegar or ACV is linked to some impressive health benefits because it contains acetic acid which reduces body fat accumulation. Even though human studies on what ACV does for you are not much, there are a couple of studies showing that when you take just one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every day for around 12 weeks you can reduce your stomach fat by as much as 1.4 cm, on average.
30 minutes of walking every day show amazing benefits!
When you combine a good diet with exercise, you are on the way to achieving your weight loss dreams and improving your health. Regularly do brisk walking for 30–40 minutes, or say about 7,500 steps a day if you want to significantly reduce your belly fat. Download a walking app and try and do your 10000 steps a day!
Avoid calories in liquid form
Stay away from the sugary sodas and the fruits juices as well as the energy drinks. Why? They are simply loaded with liquid calories and sugar! It’s so easy to down a lot of these liquids, particularly when you have a raving thirst, but the thing is with liquid calories, your brain doesn’t register them as it does with solid calories.
So you are going to end up drinking all those calories on top of what you eat. Look at this: studies reveal that a daily serving to your kids of this sugar-sweetened beverage increases their risk of obesity by a huge 60%! Sugary soda drinks are loaded with fructose, and fructose has links to stomach fat gain.
Eat whole, single-ingredient food
This is very good advice as far as diets go; to base your diet on eating more whole, single-ingredient foods. Whole foods are the ones loaded with fiber, nutrients, vitamins, water, and minerals.
This makes it difficult to overeat on these foods, and many of them have their own benefits of helping you to not put on weight. Try and eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, veggies, fish, dairy, and unprocessed meat
As well as your food, think about what you drink. It’s important to drink plenty of water; not only does it stop you from getting dehydrated but it flushes the toxins out of your body and makes sure you have regular bowel movements. It temporarily increases your metabolic rate.
It boosts your total energy expenditure by up to 100 calories a day.
Drinking water before you eat makes you feel fuller, so you will eat fewer calories at mealtimes. If you struggle to drink plain tap water, you could add orange, lemon, spearmint, or basil to make it more enjoyable.
Hold back on alcohol
Also try, and possibly reluctantly cut back on your alcohol. Drinks like wine and beer are packed full of calories; just one bottle of wine can contain 600 calories, and remember, the recommended amount for a whole day is around 2000.
Alcohol also makes you hungrier, and as you’re more relaxed, you’re less likely to stop yourself. Watching what you eat is relatively simple, it’s the exercise that will require more effort, but it will be a huge help in getting that flat belly.
Drink Green tea and coffee unsweetened.
Did you know that unsweetened coffee and green tea are among the healthiest beverages in the world? Drinking coffee is noted to increase the number of calories you burn, and similarly, drinking green tea does.
Studies also show that when you drink coffee and tea, you stand the chance of reducing your risk of accumulating belly fat, naturally trimming your waistline.
You might be really muscular, you might lift weights or be able to do 30 sit-ups, but that isn’t going to help the most. You need to do more aerobic exercises; this includes: running, cycling, dancing, swimming, and boxing.
You can try things like “Couch to 5K”, a running app, and a program where you alternate between jogging and walking, and it gradually increases after each session. Each day only requires about 20-30 minutes, and to begin with, you’re only running for 60 seconds and then walking for 90.
You should try and complete about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day, but it’s also important to have 1-2 days rest each week. Although I said aerobic exercise is more important than being muscular, it is worth including strength training as it increases your metabolism. You can try ball exercises, crunches, and weights.
So, food and exercise, simple enough, is there anything else you should watch out for? Well, you might be sitting there thinking you’d rather try the newest diet trend, but diets are only short-term, and if you keep them up for a long time, you will be damaging your health, they also require a lot more willpower to maintain.
If a diet requires you to cut back on food and starve, your body will go into starvation mode where your metabolism slows down, and you may even gain weight.
Eat more protein
When it comes to weight loss, protein is the most valuable nutrient. Your body burns a lot of calories when it digests protein, more so than fats and carbs. So it makes sense that a high protein diet can account for an extra 80-100 calories being burned every day.
When you eat protein, you reduce your appetite, because protein makes you feel full, and also helps to retain muscle mass during weight loss. That’s a big plus. Studies show that those who eat more protein have slimmer waistlines.
How much protein you need depends on certain factors though, such as age, activity levels, and gender. Generally, you should try and get around 20–30% of your calories from protein every day.
Track what foods you take in
If you are trying to lose weight and slim down your stomach, a good idea is to track what you eat. A really effective one is to count your calories, jotting them down in a food diary. It’s not necessary to do it all the time, but just try it for a few days in a row every few weeks or so.
This will make you more aware of what your calorie intake is and then allow you to adjust your weight loss diet if needs be. Try a couple of free apps or websites where you can track your calories and nutrient intakes.
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a certain eating method where you rotate between eating and fasting for a period of time. It’s a very popular method – the most popular one being the 24 hours fast, done 2-4 times a week.
Read here about intermittent fasting and see which method will suit you best. It’s generally about eating fewer calories and people seem to like it more than sticking to the traditional type of weight loss diets
Don’t ignore fatty fish, in food or supplement form
It is recommended that everyone eats fatty fish at least once or twice a week. It is exceptionally healthy and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids and high in protein.
Once again, protein assists with weight loss, and studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help with the reduction of fat in the liver as well as the abdominal cavity. If you can’t face the fish, try supplementation, but it is vital for your diet.
Watch your stress levels and sleep. When you’re stressed you may be tempted to eat comfort food and definitely guilty of reaching for the chocolate or ice cream, but it’s much better to get rid of your frustration by jogging or another exercise as an outlet, and sleeping more will also help your stress levels.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is a technique that will help you “manage” your emotions and physical sensations around hunger and food. It involves slowing down, being “aware” of what you eat without any distraction, and actually focusing on your hunger and eating; only eating until you are full.
Mindful eating helps you lose weight because it changes your eating behaviors and reduces stress-related behavior such as binge eating. Because your behavior is changed you can mindfully concentrate on what you eat.
What’s the bottom line message?
Looking at the above, you will see that there are so many wonderful strategies that can set you on your goal of achieving a flat stomach. When you incorporate some or all the tips mentioned above into your daily life and routine, you might just start seeing the sought-after six-pack sooner than later. And you will feel like a million dollars too.
Finally, be patient! Everyone is different, some people may find it harder than others to lose weight even if they follow exactly the same steps, but keep up with it and you will achieve your goal!