We all want it- a killer flat belly! Especially this time of year when we have to get into a swimsuit to go to the pool or beach! We do a million sit-ups to get it. Some starve all day before getting into their swimsuit to flatten their belly. Some do a cleanse before an event to flatten the belly. But how do we truly get a flat belly and keep it that way? Well I am here to tell you some reasons why you don’t have a flat belly and some secrets to getting one!
1. Nutrition is the most important way to lose weight. Honestly, you just cannot spot reduce. If you tend to always gain weight in your stomach and your mother or father have always had a belly, then doing a million sit-ups is not going to change that. But, watching what you eat will!
Here are some culprits to a extended belly:
– Drinking soda, diet or regular: The bubbles in any soda will bloat you. This includes beer by the way. When you drink soda & beer, the bubbles in the carbonation literally expand your belly. And it’s not always short term. Soda can also allow you to eat more later by keeping that belly enlarged. This in turn will lead you to out of control portions because you don’t feel as satisfied any more with the smaller portions you once ate.
– Chewing too much sugar free gum or eating sugar free candy. Most gum or candy that is sugar free has sugar alcohols in them. A little is ok but if you eat too much of it, this will give you a lot of air in your belly and in some cases cause diarrhea.
– Snacking on too many protein bars: This is another culprit of the sugar alcohols. Some more natural bars won’t have them in them but they are usually filled with regular sugar. Bars are processed food so you really do not want to have more than one a day if that. I utilize a bar for emergency purposes. I keep one in my bag for those times where there are no other whole food choices. Otherwise, I try not to eat them regularly. And if you eat two in a day, watch the belly bloat!
– Eating too much fiber: We all here that fiber is key to weight loss and that if we don’t get 25 grams of fiber a day we are bound to gain weight. If you do need to increase your fiber intake, do it slowly. If you try and do a ton of different high fiber foods in one day like fruit, beans, bran cereal and raw vegetables, you may become bloated quickly. Let your body get used to the fiber slowly. You may even have to cook your vegetables a little bit. A lot of people get gassy from raw vegetables because they just can’t break them down efficiently. Same thing goes for beans. If you want to incorporate more of these foods (which is much healthier than avoiding them), start taking digestive enzymes at your meals or supplement with Beano before your meals. This will help you to break down the food and fiber better and will cause less bloating.
– Overeating at meals: Our bodies were meant to graze. This is why most nutritionists advise small mini meals 5-6 times a day. Any time you overeat at a sitting you are 1) expanding your belly each time, and 2) storing anything extra that your body cannot utilize for muscle repair and energy into fat reserves. Therefore, eating mini meals all day will give you the exact amount of calories for your body to utilize and not waste time storing the excess as fat. This will help to also keep your belly flat instead of extended.
2. As far as exercise goes to banish the belly bloat and get a nice flat belly, you don’t need to do a million ab crunches. What you do need to do is practice pulling your abs in. Try this exercise and do it daily 50 times to train the abs to pull in. Then, once you have this mastered, try to incorporate it any time you can- during your ab crunches of course; while watching TV, as you walk, etc. This will help to train those muscles to pull in rather than pooch out.
– Sit on your knees and place your first two fingers on your low belly right below your belly button. Take a nice deep breath in and as you breath out, pull your belly in nice and slow and hold. Release it and repeat 50 times. Most people push their bellies out when they do abdominals which trains the abdominal muscles to form out. This will give you that poochy look you are trying to avoid. Practicing this exercise will help you to pull in at all times, hold yourself up stronger and taller, and help you to feel better about yourself all the time! And don’t forget that it will save you time in the gym because you won’t have to do a million sit-ups after your 45 minute cardio session. Just practice this all day long and you will be working your core at all times!
Jessica Janc, Director of Nutrition, Premier Fitness Camp
Jessica Janc has been a part of the Fitness Industry for 20 years. She attended the University of Utah where she studied Exercise Sports Science with an emphasis on Nutrition. She has been an ACE certified Aerobic Instructor and Personal trainer for nineteen years. She studied under the Stott Pilates Method, is Bosu Certified, Madd Dogg Spin certified and teaches many other fitness classes at Purefitness Sports Center in Carlsbad. Jessica is Ace Certified in Lifestyle and Weight Management and is a Sports Nutritionist certified through the National Association of Sports Nutrition (NASN).