Eat less and move more. That’s the best advice for a flat belly over the long term. But what if there are other issues that are affecting the tautness of your tummy? We rounded up 10 tricks to help with stomach issues you might be facing.
1. Hold the Salt
Salt is an important electrolyte, especially if you workout and sweat, reports womenshealthmag.com, but when you consume too much, could have some water retention. Sure, it’s not body fat, but when you’re trying on a bikini or a body-con dress, it doesn’t matter much to the mirror. So limit the table salt you add to recipes and dishes, as well as opting for low-sodium ingredients. Salt is also a big culprit in packaged foods, so check the nutrition facts label for sodium levels, in addition to calories.
2. Consider Probiotics
What’s a sign of an off balance of bacteria in the gut? Bloating, reports womenshealthandfitness.com.au, which recommends the strains lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium. So if you’ve been sick and taking antibiotics, you may notice your tummy bulge a bit. But there’s a fix with probiotics. Follow your doctor’s prescription, but just make sure you don’t take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time. You can also improve your gut health by including the following foods in your diet: yogurt, fermented foods, fish oil and foods high in fiber, like grains and veggies.
3. Find Out if You’re Sensitive or Intolerant to Gluten
What’s not to love about bread?! But for some, it can cause bloating, reports the U.K.’s National Health Services. The inability to digest wheat (specifically gluten) also includes other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains. You can try an elimination diet under the supervision of your healthcare provider to find out for sure.
4. Take Up Pilates
If crunches aren’t cutting it, Pilates will up your tummy toning game. With Pilates you strengthen your entire core, according to sparkspeople.com, whereas sit-ups and crunches only target the outermost ab muscles, the rectus abdominis. Pilates moves work the external obliques, erector spinae and the transversus abdominis. That last muscle is what keeps the stomach in tight. In fact, a recent study that found that Pilates works better than crunches to tone the midsection.
5. Start Planking
Another move that engages the deep core muscles? The plank. Acefitness.org reports that this exercise gets you to engage all the layers of the abdominal fascia, which not only tones the stomach, but it also reduces low-back pain. It’s a two-for-one deal! Just make sure when you do plank that you are doing it properly: elbows under the shoulders, your chin close to your neck, hold your core tight like you’re bracing or a punch, and your body in a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips or shoulders drop.
6. Get Proper-fitting Underwear
This is one instant fix. The right pair of underwear can make a huge difference in how your stomach looks under clothes. The Daily Mail recommends two types of shape wear to flatten your stomach. Thigh slimmer not only slims in the legs, but its high waistband sucks in the gut. Wear it under trousers and mid to long skirts. No crop tops. A control tube is the modern corset. It flattens the tummy and also avoids any embarrassing back rolls, too.
7. Eat More Fiber
Fiber isn’t just super healthy for your heart and cholesterol, it’s also a tummy toner. A recent study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that foods high in fiber can reduce visceral body fat, the fat cells deep in the belly. Researchers say that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. What’s loaded with soluble fiber? Vegetables, fruit and beans.
8. Skip the Diet Soda
Any beverages with bubbles will make you bloat, but recent research published in Time suggests that diet pop might be even more of an instigator to belly fat. It found that people who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda. Your best bet is flat water. No calories and no gas-inducing bubbles.
9. Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Every Night
If you get five or less hours of shut-eye a night, that can cause issues for your waistline, reports a study in Shape. It raises the risk of weight gain by 32 percent, say the researchers. Another study found that when you don’t get eight hours of sleep you consumer more than 300 extra calories a day, mostly from fatty foods. A lack of sleep causes a hormone response that stimulates hunger. Create a sleeping schedule, meditate before bed and avoid caffeine at later in the day and the evening to help you get the most out of your bedtime.
10. Stand Tall
You wouldn’t think the best physical thing you can for your stomach would be to have better posture, but it’s true. A story in Prevention reports that good posture can make you look five pounds slimmer. Why? When you’re hunched over, muscles in the stomach and lower back slacken and become weak. That’s news that should get you to stand up (and sit up) straight.