If you’re like most people, there’s probably one body part that you’re frustrated about. It’s also quite likely that it’s your abs.
Carrying a few extra pounds in the stomach is a struggle that almost everyone can relate to. From the notorious muffin top, to the beer belly, people from all walks of life understand the annoyance of belly fat. Even athletes and fitness enthusiasts are not immune to the stubborn lower belly pooch. For many, it seems like no amount of dieting or training can keep midsections flat and toned permanently.
How to Flatten Your Belly Without Surgery
Whether this is the first time you’re curious about sculpting your abs naturally, or you’ve done almost everything in your diet and exercise routine, but you're getting ho-hum results, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to uncover the latest science-backed tips on how to drop a jean size and bid adieu to belly fat for good!
1. Reexamine your food portions.
Studies have shown that diet trumps physical activity when it comes to fat loss— a deceptively simple case of calories in, calories out. To consume fewer calories, portion control remains one of the most effective, sustainable, and simple ways to lose weight.
The problem is that most of us tend to misjudge serving sizes. But, you don’t have to be calorie-obsessed every time you eat out with friends and family. The takeaway here is to pause for a second and pay more attention to what’s on your plate.
By being more mindful of serving sizes and food portions, you’ll end up eating less. Not convinced? Take a look at this study on portion control and weight loss among women.
2. Throw more protein into your diet.
There are hundred of diets out there claiming to be the most effective in terms of weight loss. However, multiple studies have shown that a diet high in protein is the way to go if you want to banish abdominal fat and sculpt your stomach.
With findings published in 2009, this Australian study found out that short-term high protein weight loss diets can significantly improve body composition by reducing abdominal fat. Four years later, an American study came up with the same conclusion — consuming a diet high in protein throughout the day decreased abdominal body fat among the subjects.
These findings are founded on two established facts. First, protein promotes satiety (feeling of fullness), so you’ll end up eating less. Second, protein promotes muscle growth and development. The increase in muscle mass can boost metabolism( torch more calories) and help you lose fat quickly.
When thinking about adding more protein to your diet, opt for protein from whole food sources and avoid highly-processed sources.
3. Step up the pace and intensity of your workouts.
In contrast to low-intensity aerobic or strength training, moderate or high-intensity exercises have been shown to significantly reduce belly fat in overweight women and men.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a standard high-intensity exercise training (HIET) typically involves a 20-60 minute workout of alternating high/low-intensity periods. These intense work periods may range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long, and are performed at 80% to 95% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, around the same time that carrying on a conversation becomes difficult. Recovery periods may last equally as long as the intense work periods, and are usually performed at 40% to 50% of your estimated maximal heart rate.
You can choose from various HIIT formats out there such as CrossFit and Tabata routines.
4. Strengthen your core.
Besides your abs muscles, the core extends from your obliques to the muscles that help stabilize your spine. A strong core will not only give you killer abs but also increase your functional strength, reduce back pain, and improve your posture. Overall, you get the best of both worlds— aesthetics and function.
To help you get started, these three basic core exercises do not require any equipment. All you need is your body weight!
To specifically target your lower abs, get your mat ready with these no-equipment exercises:
5. Take steps to reduce chronic stress in your life.
Stress, in smaller doses, is healthy. However, living with chronic stress is a different story.
When you’re chronically stressed, your body produces abnormally high levels of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). High levels of cortisol in the body is linked to increased abdominal fat in men, women, and even during pre-adolescence.
Taking up meditation, getting enough sleep, guided visualization, and learning to say no are good starting points to cut down or manage stress in your life.
To tighten and tone flabby stomach, take the time to incorporate these tips in your everyday living as well:
- Limit your intake of refined carbs.
- Swap liquid calories such as sodas with water.
- Walk when you can.
- Cut down on alcohol consumption.
- Eat mostly whole foods.
On Commitment and Consistency in Diet and Exercise
Taking the above steps toward a tighter and toned tummy on your end is only half of the story. The other half involves committing to the idea that you will be consistent in your action plan.
If all else fails in getting rid of that one tiny pooch right where the top of your pants hits, plastic surgery is a viable option for body contouring. Often, these body-shaping surgeries are like finishing touches, reducing those stubborn pockets of fat, or removing loose abdominal skin after massive weight loss or childbirth.