Ask a woman struggling to lose weight, where does she want the weight to come off first, and I can promise you that she is more than like to say the tummy! This is especially true if you are talking to a woman who has had a baby. For most of us, a flat tummy makes us look slimmer, more proportionate, taller and ultimately more attractive. And the clothes fit better too!
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!
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.
Here are some diet guidelines that can greatly help in preventing and reducing tummy bulge.
Flat Abs Diet Tips:
1. Avoid Processed Foods and Added Sugar:
Choose whole fruits over juices, fresh over canned, water over soft drinks. Avoid bakery staples like cakes and cookies. Canned and packaged foods contain a lot of sodium and very less fiber and nutrients. Excess sodium retains more water, puffing up your belly. Stay away from sugar substitutes as well; they are only partially digested by your body.
2. Control Alcohol Intake:
Alcohol makes your body burn 36% less fat than it normally would, thus hurting your metabolism further. When you drink, the liver works overtime to burn alcohol instead of fat, giving rise to terms like ‘Beer Belly’ or ‘Beer Gut’. Also, one tends to underestimate the calories in alcohol, making it easy to overdo.
3. Go for Abs-friendly Food:
Abs-friendly foods deal with the causes of belly fat, like balancing your gut bacteria, reducing gas, preventing constipation and containing healthy fats. Whole grains, lean protein, eggs, leafy vegetables, almonds, yogurt and green tea are toppers in this list. Get your dose of Omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish or capsules. Green tea contains catechins which are antioxidants that claim to reduce belly fat.
4. Eat at the Right Time:
The trick is to never stuff your tummy, or to starve. Eat something within half an hour of waking up and then a breakfast full of wholegrain and protein. Go for a filling lunch and a light dinner at least three hours before bedtime. Eat two snacks – one mid morning and one at tea time. Small, balanced meals do not lead to tummy bulge and keep your metabolism up and running. Best part is that your body never goes into starvation mode, which is when it feels the need to store everything as fat.
5. Space Out Foods that Cause Bloating:
Do not eat multiple servings of gassy foods in a single day, since it might lead to bloating and belly bulge. Common foods in this list are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, dried beans and lentils. These are very healthy and have good fiber, so do not omit them, just space them out across your meals throughout the week.
Moving on to exercise, experts agree that good, intense cardio is essential in burning belly fat. As the body loses overall fat, it helps the belly to slim down as well.Focus on core exercises to tone your muscle, which will make you look slimmer. Here are some effective workouts to strengthen your core and flatten your abs at the same time.
Effective Exercises On How To Get Flat Abs:
1. Reverse Crunch:
1. Lie on the floor with knees bent, arms by your side, fingers pointing towards your heels. Lift your feet off the ground, toes pointing away from your body.
2. Exhale and slowly lift your hips off the floor, contracting your abs. Your knees now point towards your head. Keep your head and neck on the floor.
3. Inhale and come back to starting position. Remember to move in a slow, controlled manner. Do 8-12 reps.
2. Basic Push Up:
1. Get on the floor, balancing on your palms and toes. Ensure palms are slightly wider than your shoulders, on either side of your upper chest and toes are curled under.
2. Keep a straight line from head to heels. Engage your abs to keep your spine straight.
3. Inhale, pushing out your elbows and lowering your chest to the floor, keeping your back straight throughout.
4. Stop when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Keep your abs strong at all times.
5. Exhale and come back to starting position. Do 8-10 reps.
3. V Sit Up:
1. Sit on the floor with legs stretched out; back straight, arms by your side. Be sure to use a padded mat for support.
2. Extend your arms in the front at shoulder level, engage your abs and lean back slightly.
3. Once stable, lift your feet first, and then your legs of the ground, leaning back further to balance your body on your buttocks and tailbone, in a tripod position.
4. Keeping your abs strong, raise your legs up and bend your back further till your body forms a V shape. If you can, raise your arms towards your toes and to make it harder, raise them straight over head for a full ‘V’.
5. Hold for as long as you comfortably can and come back to starting position.
4. Plank with Opposite Arm and Leg Raise:
1. Get into a pushup position, with your body supported on your palms and toes with back straight and aligned with your head and neck.
2. Lower yourself onto your forearms, keeping the rest of the position unchanged. Curl your fists inwards and keep a right angle in your elbows, directly under your shoulders.
3. Lift your right leg off the floor and extend it straight out, parallel to the floor.
4. Putting your weight on your left foot and right arm, lift your left arm and extend it in front of you, fingers pointing forward.
5. Keep your extended leg, arm and back straight throughout, using your core to maintain balance.
6. Hold for 10 seconds and come back to plank position. Repeat on the other side. Do eight reps on each side.
5. Thread the Needle:
1. Get into a modified side plank position, lying on your left side propped up on your left forearm with wrist directly under shoulder.
2. Keep your knees bent and lower legs folded back, right leg resting over the left. Let right arm rest on right hip. Keep your hips off the ground.
3. Extend right arm straight overhead. Look up at your arm. Ensure a straight line from right fingertips to left elbow.
4. Bring your right arm down and under your left armpit, as though threading a needle. Feel the twist in your sides and abs and not in your shoulders or neck.
5. Come back to starting position. Do 8 reps on this side and repeat on the other.
Another advantage of doing core workout is that it improves your balance and posture, which makes you stand tall, automatically pulling in your tummy and making you appear leaner. With eating right and working out, watch your body get slimmer and your abs flatter and let the compliments pour in!
Are you working towards getting flat abs? What exercises d you prefer? Do share with us in the comments section below.