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It is the New Year, and most of us probably overindulge in some amazing eats during the holidays. As a result, our waistline increased a few inches. Or your belly fat may be hanging over your pants since Jan 2012L. Don’t worry here are 5 Tips to help you flatten that jelly belly.

Tip #1 – Target hidden core muscles Crunches only target superficial muscles, and are not the most efficient way to tighten your abs.  According to the researchers at the University of Virginia, you have to do 250,000 crunches in order to burn one (1) pound of belly fat.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the day doing crunches.

Instead, you need to focus on the muscles that lie beneath the superficial ones: your transverse abdominis, multifidis, and internal obliques. Strengthening these muscles pulls in your middle like a corset, keeping the area looking flat and toned.  So you are probably wondering where and how do I find these muscles.

Here’s the secret: Lie on your back and place your palms just below your navel. Exhale and allow your tummy to expand as far as you can, then focus on pulling your belly button toward your spine, drawing your abdomen toward the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Tip #2 – Move your butt Over time, sitting around (desk, sofa and car) renders your glutes practically useless and causes your hip flexors—the muscles that connect your hipbones to your legs—to become stiff. This lack of activity tilts your pelvis forward, which increases the arch in your back and puts stress on your spine. In addition, it pushes your abdomen out, making even a relatively flat stomach bulge. That means that to lose your gut, you’ve got to work your butt.

Jane Fonda knew the secret to this one…Glute bridge! This movement will help you get a stronger glutes and combat tight hip flexors with this stretch. Come onto your back, bend your knees and place both feet hip distance apart with the feet parallel to one another. With palms facing down, lift your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for 5 seconds with abs engaged. Lower and relax, and repeat 10 more times. You can increase the intensity of this movement by lifting one leg in the air and pressing down on one foot at a time.

Tip #3 – Work your abs less often

That’s right, you don’t need to work your abs everyday. You only need three (3) quality sessions a week to see maximum results. Like other muscles, your abs also need a break so give them a day to recover. Stressing your muscles during a workout breaks down the tissues, and they need rest days to rebuild and get stronger.  Also, stick to only 15 to 20 reps of each move. During your workout don’t save the abs for the end of your workout. Do your ab work first when your body is strong, and you have less of a chance to get sloppy and tired. For example, do abs then do weights or cardio.

Tip #4 – Eat for rock hard abs

We all know this, but food is half the battle when working to loose weight. Here are some simple dietry tips for getting flat abs.

Increase your protein intake: Substituting meat, fish, dairy, and nuts for carbs can reduce the amount of fat around your middle. When you exchange carbohydrates in favor of an equal amount of protein, you will reduce overall belly fat.

Eliminate added sugar: The average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily in the form of processed foods like soda, baked goods, breakfast cereals, fruit drinks, and even flavored yogurt.  This may seem harmless, but it calculates to about 325 empty calories every day.  That sugar increases insulin production, which slows your metabolism.

Don’t fear fat, it can be your friend: Research shows that diets containing more than 50 percent fat are just as effective for weight loss as those that are low in fat. Fat is fills and adds flavor to your meals, which helps you avoid feeling deprived, so you can stick to your diet.  Eat foods rich in monounsaturated fats (olives, nuts, and avocados). You can also enjoy whole foods that contain saturated fat (milk, cheese, and butter) only in moderation.

Bloating: It doesn’t matter how hard you are working on getting flat abs, if you’re bloated, you won’t look or feel HOT.  Carbonated beverages and good-for-you foods such as beans and broccoli, can make your stomach swell. Also, reduce you sodium intake. Nutritionists suggest you stay under 2,000 milligrams to avoid retaining excess water. Many of are around 5,000 milligrams a day.)

Tip #5 – Stop stressing Stress is real, it happens, and it is a part of life. However, anxiety can produce extra cortisol, a hormone that encourages the body to store fat, particularly in your belly. According to researchers at Yale University, your midsection is four times as likely as the rest of your body to store stress-induced fat. Help keep anxiety in check by taking little mini-breaks at work, take a short walk when you feel stressed, practice meditation, and do yoga. The upside if that many postures in yoga will also help tone your abs while relaxing the mind and body.

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