Whether your goal is to lose your muffin top for good, or to finally try to achieve those elusive six-pack abs, use these results-driven techniques and advice for helping you win the battle of the belly bulge once and for all.
Are you sick of hiding your belly under baggy tops or buying your pants a size too big so your stomach won't spill over the waistband? You're not alone. The stomach is a major, if not the major problem area, for men and women. I can't tell you how often I'm asked for advice on how to achieve killer abs, flatten the mommy pooch or lose the love handles. If you really want to get a flat stomach — or score that six pack — follow these tips and make it happen!
Body — Not Just Your Stomach
Contrary to what many people believe, doing thousands of sit-ups or crunches all day, every day, will not get you closer to achieving those washboard abs. Yep, you read that right. Both belly bulge and love handles are about excess body fat, NOT lack of muscle. And sadly, we can’t spot reduce fat. That's why ab exercises alone are not the solution. Scoring a flat stomach is all about workouts that burn body fat overall. One of the best ways to do that is utilizing exercises that are core focused, but impact different muscle groups at the same time — so you're strengthening your entire body, which burns more calories and subsequently more fat – during and long after your workout. A perfect example of this would be a mountain climber. You are working your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and accelerating the hell out of your heart rate for optimal calorie burn.
High intensity interval training is one of the most effective fat burning fitness techniques you can employ. This is because it places a tremendous energy call on the body and greatly increases the body's need for oxygen it incinerates calories. It’s done by engaging in short bursts of intense exercise at 100% effort followed by short recovery periods of complete rest or an light active recovery exercise. For example: you might do a set of 15 sprints where you go all out for 1 minute then walk for 30 seconds. Or, you can work HIIT intervals into a resistance-training workout by injecting high intensity moves that elevate heart rate and then perform another easier exercise for an “active recovery”. An example of this would be jump squats for 30 seconds followed by plank pose for 30 seconds.
Eat the Right Foods
I bet you knew this one was coming…and I am sure you have heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”. Which is true to an extent. You still need to train in order to burn subcutaneous fat sitting on top of your muscles and of course to condition the muscle under the fat, but clean eating will keep you from counteracting all your hard work in the gym. Think of it this way, if a small order of French fries is around 400 calories that’s about 30 minutes of jogging. You can undo all your hard work in the gym if you eat too much and you eat crap. So, don’t overeat, and all processed foods need to go. Get rid of the potato chips, microwave dinners, and definitely put an end to those fast food fixes. The chemicals in these garbage foods like fake flavors, colors, fats, sweeteners etc. disrupt your biochemistry and slow your metabolism. Plus, the sodium, simple starches, and sugars alone will help keep your belly looking bloated and defeat your efforts. Replace the junk food with whole, quality, organic foods that are packed with healthy nutrients, not preservatives. Then, work these three foods into your diet for maximum belly-fat burn.
Adequate sleep plays an integral role in our weight. This is because our metabolism dictates everything from the rate we burn calories to when and where we store fat. And your metabolism is simply your biochemistry / hormone balance. For this reason, when we don’t sleep the body doesn’t release as much fat burning HGH, and conversely it releases more of the belly fat stress hormone cortisol as well as an appetite enhancing hormone called Ghrelin. Be sure to get your shut eye. 8 hours a night is preferable, but 7 will suffice.
Say No to Happy Hour
I'm not going to tell you to abstain from alcohol completely, I'm pretty open about how much I enjoy a little tequila from time to time of the occasional glass of red. But when you're trying to lose weight and tone up, alcohol is the ultimate enemy. Alcohol releases estrogen into the bloodstream and when you have excess estrogen, you're more prone to hold onto weight. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, decreases your willpower, and stimulates your appetite. The result? You're at a diner ordering a cheeseburger and fries at 2 a.m. Now THAT is definitely not the route to a rock hard six pack. Your best bet is to take a hiatus from booze until you meet your weight-loss goals and can re-introduce alcohol into your diet in a healthy way – 2 to 4 drinks a week tops.
Cut Your Sodium Intake and Up Your Water Intake
Bloating isn't all in your head. It IS possible to carry extra water weight in your tummy. To beat the bloat, decrease your sodium intake to no more than 2000 mg a day and increase your water consumption. It's easy to start monitoring your sodium intake by reading food labels. Limiting the amount of sodium you consume will help you reduce your water retention and look leaner in your clothes.