We all want to know the secret to get rid of belly fat. The secret, of course, is that there is no secret: it requires a combination of hard work, diet and exercise to get flatten your belly. Luckily, it’s not as difficult as you may think. Here are 10 small things you can do to work your way toward a flatter belly by summer.
1. Focus on Your Diet
Great abs are made in the kitchen. Yes, you’ll need to work out if you want a flat stomach but no matter how much you’re working out, if you’re not eating right, your results won’t show. Now is the time to clean up your diet, get serious about portion control, and load up on foods that will help you in your quest for a lean midsection. By incorporating foods like quinoa, green tea, kefir, avocado, eggs and grapefruit into your diet, you’ll give your belly a fighting chance to flatten out by summer.
2. Amp Up the Cardio
Before you hit the deck for crunches, you need to incorporate high intensity aerobic activity to burn calories and fat. Try running, cycling, rowing, swimming, jumping rope, or high intensity interval training. Effective aerobic exercise is repetitive, long, hard, and challenges your heart and lungs for 15 to 20 minutes or longer.
3. Add Protein
You’ve already combed through your diet to remove processed foods, cut down on alcohol, and focused on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein and foods filled with fiber. But are you still not losing any inches? You may not have enough protein in your diet. Try adding 40 grams of protein to your post-workout meal, either through six ounces of lean meat or two scoops of protein powder in a smoothie.
4. Get Down on the Ground and Crawl
Core muscles are not just ab muscles. If you use a muscle to help maintain a neutral spine, it’s a core muscle. If you’ve been doing ab exercises like planks for a while, you may have noticed they become easier over time. While a simple plank may be enough for a beginner, a more advanced exerciser will likely need to either raise opposite hand and foot or switch to a crawling plank. Why are crawling planks effective? Gravity provides more pressure on your stabilizing muscles when you’re in a prone position.
5. Add some Weights
Your ab exercises will become a lot more effective if you start incorporating hand weights or a medicine ball to provide extra resistance. Try a double crunch pulse with a medicine ball: Hold a medicine ball straight out in front of you as you lie on your back. As your upper body performs a traditional crunch, raise your pelvis and lower body off the mat and meet in the middle for a double crunch. Hold your medicine ball toward your ankles as you do this. Keep lowering and raising the lower pelvis and upper back off the floor in a pulsing motion for 3 sets of 20 to 25 reps.
6. Hydrate Yourself the Right Way
Carbonated beverages can trap gas in your belly. It doesn’t matter if they’re full-sugar drinks, diet versions, or even just sparkling water; it’s the carbonation that’s causing the bloat. If you can’t stand the idea of drinking plain water, add some natural flavor with lemons, limes, berries, cinnamon, vanilla, basil the sky is the limit. Keep it natural, keep it fresh, and your belly will thank you.
7. Chew Your Food Better
Most of us rush through our meals so much that we barely even chew the food on our plates. This is bad news because food that is not chewed well will not be digested well, which means you’re more likely to have bloating and gas. How much should you chew? Chew your food until it’s the consistency of applesauce in your mouth. It might feel weird at first, but you’ll feel so much better later.
8. Ditch Happy Hour
Nothing sabotages your flat belly efforts more than alcohol. Alcohol releases estrogen into your bloodstream, which can cause weight gain. Alcohol also causes a trifecta of bad news: lowered inhibitions, decreased willpower and stimulated appetite. All that greasy food you’ve been diligently avoiding will suddenly sound amazing and unavoidable when you have a few cocktails in you. It’s best to keep alcohol out of your diet until you’ve reached your weight loss goals.
9. Think Beyond Crunches.
The crunch is a go-to move in any ab routine, but nothing gets boring or less effective faster than doing the same moves over and over again. Mix up your routine by trying new moves. Here’s one to add to your routine: Pike and Extend. Lie on your back, raise your legs 90 degrees off the floor, crunch up, reach your arms toward your legs, and keep your arms straight as you lower your upper body and one leg back to the ground. Crunch back up and switch legs. Do 20 reps.
10. Add a Stability Ball
When crunches alone won’t do it (and of course we all know crunches alone will never do it), add a stability ball to rev up your ab workout. Try the rad roll-up: Lie on your back with a stability ball in front of you, resting your feet on top of the ball. Slowly roll yourself up off the floor and touch your toes, digging your feet into the ball for stability. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat for 12 reps.