You’ll be surprised to learn just how many elements of your day-to-day life can affect the shape of your stomach. Things like stress, not enough sleep, environmental toxins, poor gut health, too little exercise and hormonal imbalances all play a role in how much excess weight you might be carrying, especially around your stomach.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to get a flatter stomach. All you need is a little consistency and dedication.
Here are a few diet and exercise tips to get you started:
Try a gentle cleanse/detox
When your body stores too many toxins, it can’t function properly, and it’ll be near impossible to lose weight, especially around your stomach.
Give your liver a break by drinking plenty of water and eating whole, unprocessed foods like:
- Fresh fruit and veggies
- Carbohydrates like rice, barley, oats and rye
- Lean proteins such as chicken, fish or pulses/legumes
- Healthy fats such as avocado, olives and nuts.
Try to limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and wheat if you think you might be sensitive to gluten. You should also watch your liquid calorie intake – as milky, sugary coffees, and fizzy drinks are major contributors to weight gain.
ALSO SEE: Watch out for these hidden sugars!
Reduce chronic, long-term inflammation
Inflammation in the gut produces insulin resistance, which promotes fat storage – particularly around the stomach area.
Eliminating low grade inflammatory food allergens from your diet such as sugar, trans fats, refined carbohydrates and alcohol can help to combat obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease.
To reduce inflammation in your body and build healthy gut bacteria, switch to more plant-based foods, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates and avoid processed, high sugar foods and excess animal protein.
Watch your portions
Simply reducing your portion sizes is one of the quickest ways to control your overall caloric intake and lose weight.
A standard serving of cooked meat or chicken is about 80-90 grams, or the size of a deck of cards. A serving of starchy foods like cooked rice and potato should be about half a cup, or the size of half a tennis ball. Fill up on low-calorie, nutritionally dense foods like veggies, and have no more than 2-3 servings of fruit per day as they still contain sugar.
Make exercise a priority
We all know that exercise is important when you’re trying to lose weight, but the type of exercise you do is also important. Maintaining and losing weight sustainably through exercise requires burning fat and raising your metabolic rate, both of which can be done with a well-rounded fitness programme, and balanced workouts including cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.
Including 1-2 high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts into your weekly schedule, will help with fat loss – especially around your middle. This involves short bursts of intense exercise where you push your heart rate up, followed by short, low-intensity recovery periods.
Focus on your core as a whole
When it comes to training your abs, it’s wise to start with the basics before you start adding the finishing touches with your surface-level muscles. Focus on losing overall body fat, and work on strengthening your core as a whole, while paying attention to your transverse abdominal muscle – which is the deeper abdominal muscle.
Exercises that don’t even target the abs, like weighted squats, push-ups and deadlifts promote core activation, which is what you’re looking for, before you start to worry about the appearance of the superficial surface muscles.
Try these great core strengthening exercises:
Start in a plank position with your wrists under your shoulders and your body in a straight line you’re your neck to your ankles. Draw one knee into your chest, followed by the other, to simulate a climbing motion. Complete 2-3 sets of 30 seconds each.
Sit on the ground with your legs bent and a weight held in both hands. (If you don’t have dumbbells at home, use tins or bottles filled with water or sand).
Lean backwards to engage your abs and lift your feet slightly off the ground. Draw the weight over to one side, simultaneously swivelling your knees slightly in the opposite direction. Pause for a moment then repeat on the opposite side. Complete 2-3 sets of 30 seconds each.
Lie on your back with your legs straight and your hands behind your head. With your legs slightly lifted off the ground, draw one elbow and opposite knee in towards each other. Pause for a moment then extend back out to your starting position and repeat with the opposite elbow and knee. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps.
Lie on your side with your legs stacked one on top of the other and your torso propped on your forearm. Strongly lift hips off the floor to form a straight line from chest to feet. Hold for as long as you can. Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each side and repeat the move 2-4 times.
Train at home with resistance bands
One of the most effective, affordable pieces of exercise equipment are resistance bands. They’re versatile, portable (so you can train anywhere) and they offer the perfect amount of resistance to help you burn fat and tone muscle, especially in your abdominal region.
For Your FREE Downloadable Lisa Raleigh Upper Body Resistance Band Workout, click here, and use the code LL20 when you “checkout” on your cart.
Lisa Raleigh is a long-time fitness and wellness entrepreneur. Her greatest passion is spreading healthy inspiration, education and motivation. She is the creator of online wellness challenges, nutrition and fitness programmes, and the popular LR e-store, home to healthy products Lisa either produces herself or endorses. As a mother, Lisa is dedicated to wellness for moms, and her current passions include rebounding – the powerful fitness modality that can be universally practiced for exceptional results. Visit Lisa’s website here.