Losing the fat around your midsection can be a battle. In addition to being a risk factor for several diseases, excess abdominal fat may make you feel bloated and discouraged. Luckily, several strategies have been shown to be especially effective at reducing your waist size. If you dream about having a flat stomach, this article may be just what you need. Here are 10 science-backed methods to help you reach your goal of a flat stomach.
It is a well-known fact that you need to cut calories to produce weight loss. One popular approach is to reduce your daily intake by 500–1,000 calories to expect to lose approximately 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week. That being said, restricting your calorie intake too much can be counterproductive. Eating too few calories can cause a major decrease in your metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn on a daily basis. In one study, a group of people who ate 1,100 calories per day slowed their metabolic rate more than twice as much as those who consumed about 1,500 calories per day for four consecutive days. What's more, this decrease in metabolic rate may persist even after you start behaving like you normally do. That means you may have a lower metabolic rate than you had before you severely restricted your calorie intake. Therefore, it is important that you don't restrict your calorie intake too much or for too long.
Soluble fibers absorb large quantities of water and slow down the passing of food through the digestive tract. This has been shown to delay stomach emptying, causing the stomach to expand and make you feel full. Furthermore, soluble fiber may decrease the number of calories your body is able to absorb from food. By eating soluble fiber, you are also less likely to accumulate fat around your organs, which reduces your waist circumference and the risk of several diseases. One observational study showed that each 10-gram increase in daily soluble fiber intake decreased fat gain around the midsection by 3.7% over five years. Good sources of soluble fibers include oats, flaxseeds, avocados, legumes, Brussels sprouts and blackberries.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are suggested to play a big role in weight loss and weight maintenance. Overweight and obese people have been shown to have a different composition of gut bacteria than normal-weight people, which may influence weight gain and fat distribution. A regular intake of probiotics may shift the balance towards beneficial gut flora, reducing the risk of weight gain and fat accumulation in your abdominal cavity. Some strains of probiotics have been shown to be particularly effective at reducing belly fat. These include:
Doing cardio, or aerobic exercise, is an excellent way to burn calories and improve overall health. Additionally, studies have shown that it is very effective at strengthening your midsection and reducing your waistline. Studies usually recommend doing 150–300 minutes of moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, which translates to roughly 20–40 minutes per day. Examples of cardio include running, brisk walking, biking and rowing.
Protein shakes are an easy way to add extra protein to your diet. Getting enough protein in your diet can boost your metabolism, reduce your appetite and assist with fat loss, especially from your midsection. Furthermore, studies have suggested that adding protein shakes to your weight loss diet may be especially effective at reducing your waist circumference.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature and usually categorized among the "good fats." Studies show that diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids may prevent the accumulation of tummy fat, the most dangerous type of fat. The Mediterranean diet is an example of a diet that is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, and it has been linked to many health benefits, including a reduced risk of central obesity. Foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids include olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Limiting your carb intake has been shown to have powerful health benefits, especially for weight loss. More specifically, studies show that low-carb diets target the fat that lodges around your organs and makes your waistline expand. Some studies also suggest that you can significantly improve your metabolic health and reduce your waistline by simply replacing refined carbs with unprocessed, whole food carbs. Observational studies have shown that people with the highest intakes of whole grains are 17% less likely to have excess abdominal fat than those who consume diets high in refined carbs.
Losing muscle mass is a common side effect of dieting. This can be detrimental to your metabolic rate, as losing muscle decreases the number of calories you burn on a daily basis. Doing resistance exercises regularly may prevent this loss of muscle mass and, in turn, help you maintain or improve your metabolic rate. Moreover, resistance training may be especially effective at tightening your midsection and reducing your waist size. In fact, combining resistance training with aerobic exercise seems to be the most effective for slimming your waistline.
Performing exercises while standing up may benefit your health more than performing the same exercises while sitting or using weight machines. By standing, you activate more muscles to maintain balance and hold up your weight. Therefore, you'll spend more energy working out. A study comparing the effects of standing and sitting exercises showed that some standing exercises increased muscle activation by 7–25%, compared to sitting. Another study suggested that standing may improve your breathing, compared to sitting. Although this may seem like a minor alteration, it may strengthen your midsection and is worth a try.
Apple cider vinegar is linked to several impressive health benefits, most of which are mainly attributed to its content of acetic acid. Several animal studies have suggested that acetic acid may reduce body fat accumulation. Although human studies are somewhat lacking in this area, one study in obese men showed that taking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each day for 12 weeks reduced their waistlines by 0.5 inches (1.4 cm), on average.