A flat belly is one of the most common goals of those who embark on a weight loss journey. For most people, this means doing endless crunches or sit-ups and avoiding foods they love. The fact is that those efforts may not necessarily achieve the results you want. There are simple tips that can help create that flat, sculpted tummy everyone desires, and eliminate that belly flab that so many people fight to get rid of.
Walk and Talk
Instead of meeting friends for lunch where you may choose a menu option that is less than healthy, or at your favorite Happy Hour location, meet up with your friends for a walk. Research shows that people who exercise with a friend, or in groups, are more likely to stay on track, as they have more fun than when they exercise alone. An added tip is to imagine a magnet pulling your naval toward your spine, so that you walk with your stomach pulled in at all times.
A Duke University study says that aerobic exercise burns 67 percent more calories than resistance training, and that cardio is the most effective at burning belly fat. In addition, because cardio burns visceral and liver fat, which is found deep within the body and not just under the skin, aerobic exercise has a significant health advantage as well as helping reduce belly fat. When you do perform strength training, be sure to stand straight to give your abs a natural workout.
Adding fiber to your diet is another way to reduce belly fat. Research shows that for every ten grams of fiber eaten, belly fat reduces by as much as four percent. Two apples, half-cup of pinto beans, an artichoke or two cups of broccoli will provide you with the ten grams of fiber necessary to help reduce belly fat.
Order First in Restaurants
When dining out with friends, order your meal first to avoid the temptation of choosing a higher calorie option because someone else does. A recent study showed that normal-weight women normally copied the eating habits of thin women when dining out.
Running the vacuum cleaner is a great ab workout. For added benefits, tighten your abdominal muscles while you clean.
Sodium makes you retain fluid, which can make your body look puffy and bloated. Nutritionists recommend no more than 2400mg of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating plan.
The Wonderful Avocado
Adding avocados to your diet is another great way to fight belly fat. Avocados contain 10 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids. These important acids eliminate blood sugar spikes that can cause your body to store fat around the belly. Limit serving sizes to one-quarter cup.
Avoid Carbonated Beverages
Sodas, even diet sodas, can increase belly fat, and may also lead to kidney problems. According to a 2008 University of Minnesota research study, just one diet soda each day contributed to a 34 percent higher risk of developing belly fat and high cholesterol. Replace diet sodas with water in order to flush bloating from your system.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Limit alcohol to no more than one four-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce light beer or one ounce of liquor per night. Alcohol raises cortisol levels which can result in belly fat.
Include Seeds and Nuts
Sunflower seeds include B-vitamins and monounsaturated fatty acids that protect your body from inflammation. Sprinkle them on salads or in stir-fry meals for an added crunch that will help burn the fat from your tummy. One serving of peanut butter has eight grams of protein, two grams of fiber and is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, so including the occasional spoonful of peanut butter to your diet can reduce belly fat.
Add Seafood to Your Diet
Fatty fish, such as salmon, contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, known to reduce belly fat. However, it is important to cook the fish in a healthy way as well, so poaching, broiling are grilling are the best ways to provide a low-calorie, healthy meal.
Get Enough Sleep
A study completed by the University of Chicago found that people who sleep seven or more hours each night lose twice the fat of those who get less sleep. In addition, people who got less sleep reported being hungrier throughout the day due to higher levels of a hormone that triggers hunger while reducing energy usage.
Great Ab Exercises
The following exercises are great for toning abdominal muscles and helping reduce belly fat:
- Roll Up – Using a resistance band, lie on the floor, face up, arms overhead and legs extended. Pull in your abs, tuck your chin, and with the resistance band between your hands, roll your head, shoulders and torso up and over your legs with your heels remaining on the floor. Slowly roll back down. Perform five to eight repetitions five to six times per week.
- The Climber – Keeping your abs tight, get into plank position then bend your left leg out to the side, bringing your knee toward the left elbow. Hold it for a few seconds, then return to the original plank position and do the same on the right side. Do 20 repetitions, five to six times per week.
- Ab Twists – Lie face up on the floor with arms out to the sides, legs bent at 90 degrees with your feet off the floor. Tighten your abs and slowly lower your legs to the left as far as possible, keeping shoulders flat on the floor, twisting at your waist. Hold for a few seconds, then return to original position. Repeat on right side. Do 20 repetitions.
These simple tips will help reduce belly fat, and, in some cases, fat deeper within your body that will not only eliminate the hated muffin top, but improve your health as well.