Flat Tummy Friday
More than any other place on my body, it feels like I’m hyper aware of my tummy. I can eat poorly for a single meal and immediately FEEL like my tummy is bloated or puffy or soft… I can feel it on the waist of my pants.
I know I’m not alone in this feeling – our stomach is the first place to react to poor diet or improper nutrition. While our butt is behind us, our stomach is in front of us and it’s impossible to ignore!
I recently realized that this was a body part I wasn’t putting enough emphasis on and I put together a list of tips for flattening my tummy. If you’re anything like me, you probably stress out about your stomach too. Pick 4-5 of the items on this list and COMMIT to them for a few months. The results will speak for themselves!
14 Tips for a Flat Tummy
Get Your Rest
Sleep studies have been conducted countless times to determine the potential health benefits of getting enough sleep AND sleeping properly. One of the discoveries of these studies is this: people who consistently get 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep lose more than two times as much fat as people who do not. What’s more, well rested people wake up with more appetite control than people who haven’t gotten proper rest. Commit to sleeping 7 hours per night; you’ll burn fat while you sleep and spend the remaining 17 hours per day with a controlled appetite!
What? MUFA’s, or monounsaturated fatty acids, are plant-based fats found in things like almonds, peanuts, avocado, seeds, olives, and even dark chocolate. These fatty acids are good for your heart, protect you from a host of chronic disease, and, most important to your tummy, they have been shown to reduce stomach fat. Commit to eating a half avocado or a few tablespoons of peanut butter on a daily basis and watch your waist line shrink!
Sit Up Straight!
It’s always a little bit frustrating when you realize your third grade teacher was right, but sitting up straight is SO good for you. Most of us spend more time sitting than we’d like to admit. Sitting with poor posture actually makes our tummies lose their shape over time. Forget the fact that you’re less likely to have back pain or postural problems if you sit up straight. If you avoid leaning back in your chair and force your abdominals to hold you upright, your tummy actually gets a workout and is trained to be flat. Commit to sitting on the edge of your seat, with your feet firmly planted on the floor, with your abdominals lifted. You’ll appear more confident and your tummy will get flatter by the day!
Imagine letting out all of your daily frustrations and being rewarded with a flatter, more toned tummy… that’s cardio kick boxing! Whether you’re kicking or punching, every movement you make is engaging your core. The combination of cardiovascular exercise AND toning movements are a perfect way to flatten your tummy AND tone it at the same time. Most gyms offer cardio kick boxing on their class schedule. Commit to giving this a try. Schedule your class on the most stressful day of your week because these classes can be very therapeutic!
I’m not suggesting you become a body builder – I’m suggesting you eat more fiber. Every 10 grams of fiber you average in your daily diet reduces your tummy fat by almost 4%. Make sure you’re eating your daily allotment of fruits and vegetables, eat more beans and whole grains like oatmeal, and add flax seed and psyllium husk to your diet.
Here are a few things that contain 10 grams of fiber:
½ cup of black or pinto beans
2 cups of green vegetables like broccoli or spinach
20 grams of psyllium husk
The average American eats less than 15 grams of fiber per day. Meanwhile, women need at least 25 grams and men need at least 38 grams. Commit to getting your daily allotment of fiber and your reward will be a flatter tummy!
Avoid Salty Foods
Those pretzels are making you thirsty but did you know why? Salty foods cause you to retain excess water weight. A high sodium diet will ultimately leave you feeling bloated. Commit to staying away from salty snacks and you’ll see your water weight disappear.
Avoid Carbonated Beverages
It may make you feel more European to order Pellegrino water at lunch… it may be a guilty habit to sneak a diet Coke in the afternoon but have you ever wondered what happens to all of those bubbles once you drink them? Some of them will cause burping, some of them will cause flatulence, but most actually get trapped in your stomach and cause bloating. Commit to switching to still water and your daily bloating will be reduced almost immediately!
Avoid Excess Carbohydrates
Foods like bread, pasta, cereal, and chips are made primarily of carbohydrates. Part of the carbohydrates in these foods store in your muscles as a compound called glycogen. Every gram of glycogen that you store also stores 3 grams of water. As you eat more carbohydrates than you are going to immediately use, you also store a ton of excess water weight, which leaves you feeling bloated.Cut down on complex carbohydrates and eat more fiber and protein. You’ll store less water and your tummy will stay flatter day to day!
Herbs NOT Spices
Dill, basil, mint, sage, tarragon, rosemary, curry powder, & lemon or lime juice are wonderful non-acidic additions that can add flavor to your favorite foods.Barbeque sauce, salsa, garlic, cayenne pepper and anything else with intense spice can stimulate the release of excess stomach acid which causes bloating.Commit to avoiding spicy foods to avoid bloating!
Say No to Gum
When you chew gum, you swallow air. The air travels to your gastrointestinal tract, where it gets trapped. As pockets of air build in your GI tract, bloating, pressure, and belly expanding occur. None of these symptoms contribute to a flat tummy!
Stevia, NOT Sugar Alcohols
If you’re going to eat something sweet that is “low sugar”, make sure it isn’t sweetened with artificial sugars (sugar alcohols) like xylitol or maltitol. Your gastrointestinal tract can’t absorb most sugar alcohols. As they pass through your GI tract, they can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Stick with Water
Alcohol, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and most fruit juices create additional acidity in your belly and GI tract, which causes swelling. Stick with water to keep your tummy flat.
Set Aside an Hour for Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise burns almost twice as many calories as resistance training. More importantly, it tends to target tummy fat. Add 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to the end of your resistance training 3 days per week and your tummy will flatten in no time
A drink, once or twice per week, is no big deal. However, drinking alcohol daily OR drinking excessively even once per week can raise your cortisol levels considerably. As your cortisol levels rise, you body immediately stores stomach fat and bye-bye flat tummy!
Most women spend far too much time doing crunches and other ab workouts. Realize this: a flat tummy has a lot more to do with what you put into your stomach than how you exercise it. Yes, take time to do your crunches but don’t go overboard. Instead, focus on implementing the 14 steps above and your tummy will get flat with minimal ab exercise!