Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly
Focus on your core
One of the best ways to help reduce your risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease is to focus on your abs. That’s right: Beyond ensuring that you look amazing in that fitted dress, keeping your middle little protects your health, studies show—and you’ll look better for it. Read on for 26 simple gut-trimming tips (including some smart style tricks) that’ll help take the inches off.
Beer drinkers sport higher waist-to-hip ratios than wine drinkers do, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology that looked at people who imbibe more than six drinks per week.
A blueberry-rich diet may stave off belly fat, a University of Michigan study suggests. Add them to your cereal, yogurt, or salad to get an extra fat-fighting boost.
Brazilian researchers found that obese women who dieted, exercised, and took a 30-milliliter supplement of coconut oil every day carved more inches from their waistlines than did women who dieted and exercised but took soybean oil. (Just choose the virgin, or unprocessed, form of coconut oil.)
Increasing the speed of your crunches (while still maintaining good form)
activates more muscles in your trunk than doing more leisurely reps, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
D-Do faster crunches
Increasing the speed of your crunches (while still maintaining good form) activates more muscles in your trunk than doing more leisurely reps, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Dieters who had two eggs with breakfast whittled their waists more than those who ate the same number of calories but had a bagel instead, research published in the International Journal of Obesity says. (One caveat: You’ll want to limit your eggs to six or fewer per week.)
F-Flatten with shapewear
Some suck-it-in undergarments can make your belly look svelte, says Paige Adams-Geller, founder of Paige Premium Denim and author of Your Perfect Fit. Try ones from Assets (the lower-priced Spanx line) or Yummie Tummie.
Depression is linked to deep-belly fat, a study in the journal Obesity reports. Make time to do what you enjoy, and talk to your doc if you’re feeling down.
H-Have whole grains
Obese adults who slashed calories and added whole grains (think brown rice, oatmeal) to their diets lost more belly fat than dieters who ate refined grains (like white bread), a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says.
J-Just say 'moo
Dieters who consumed 1,200 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day experienced three times the middle-whittling as those getting the same number of calories but less calcium, a University of Tennessee study found.
Doing 20 minutes of heart-pounding cardio intervals three times a week burned more abdominal fat than spending twice as long doing slow-paced cardio, according to Australian researchers.
K-Kick it up a notch
Exercisers who cranked their intensity up to a 6 to 8 on a 10-point scale shed more belly fat than people who phoned it in, according to research done at Duke University.
L-Lift. Weights, that is
Women who pumped iron twice a week for two years lost more body fat and didn’t gain as much belly fat as women who didn’t lift, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
M-Make time for cardio
People who got regular cardio exercise had less ab pudge than those at the same weight who were sedentary, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports.
N-Nuts, nuts, nuts
Dieters who nibbled on 3 ounces of almonds (about 70) every day lost seven inches from their waists, compared with five inches in the non-almond-eating crowd, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.
O-Opt for an Empire waist
For most women, the thinnest body part is just below the bust, says Maureen French, a personal shopper and stylist in the San Francisco Bay area. Emphasize it.
Some basic Pilates moves are more effective than conventional ab exercises, a study from Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, reports.
Smokers sport more deep-abdominal fat than nonsmokers, according to research from the Netherlands.
Choose brown over white so you’re getting whole-grain benefits—and make it your starchy side dish of choice. Unlike potatoes and pasta, it doesn’t produce gas as your body breaks it down. (Translation: No bloating.)
Subjects who got 40% of their daily calories from protein shed more belly fat than those whose share was only 15%, a Skidmore College study says. Choose lean cuts, like sirloin or tenderloin.
T-Try a harder plank
Increase the belly benefits by replacing your usual plank pose with this variation, recommends Stuart McGill, PhD, author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. Kneel and put forearms on a stability ball, elbows bent and hands clasped; roll forward and straighten legs behind you. Move the ball in little circles with forearms, keeping the rest of your body still.
U-Unhook that bra
And find a better size. The proper one will lift the girls and give you a longer, leaner look, so get professionally fitted. “That can be like six months at the gym,” says Kendall Farr, a New York City fashion stylist and author of Style Evolution.
V-Vino, but just a little
Folks who enjoy one drink of wine per day are leaner all over (middles included) than those who drink more heavily, multiple studies say.
W-Work the bicycle crunch
This move— touching your left elbow to your right knee, and vice versa, while crunching up—gives your stomach muscles more than twice the challenge of a traditional crunch, a study from San Diego State University reports.
X-X out sofa time
In a Duke University study, women living la vida couch potato piled on 11.6% more deep-belly fat in eight months.
Women who are the most stressed have the largest waistlines, a Yale University study says. A likely culprit: excess cortisol, a stress hormone. An hour of yoga can lower cortisol levels.
Z-Zip up midrise jeans
Wear low-rise denim and you risk a muffin top, Adams-Geller says. Choose a midrise with a wide waistband instead.