Tone Your Tummy: 6 Steps to a Flatter Stomach
Follow these tips for the flatter stomach and healthier lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
How to Get a Flatter Stomach
It’s easy to hide the extra weight in your midsection behind a baggy sweater. But wouldn’t it feel fabulous to ditch the bulky wardrobe in favour of body-skimming dresses and curve-hugging jeans? We’ve come up with six easy ways to achieve a flatter stomach and live a much healthier lifestyle in the process.
1. Eat six small meals a day
The secret to revving up your metabolism and getting rid of the abdominal fat is a change in diet. Start by eating five or six small meals a day. “If you eat large meals and leave a lot of space between eating, your body will think you are starving yourself and as a result will store most of the calories as body fat,” says Meghan Callaway, a Vancouver-based personal trainer.
She recommends eating your biggest meal of the day at breakfast, within 30 minutes of the time you wake up. It’s also important to drink lots of water during the day, which will limit water retention, aid in digestion and keep you feeling fuller between meals.
2. Focus on protein-packed meals
Limit your intake of simple carbohydrates such as white bread and pastas, and instead focus on eating more lean protein sources such as turkey, eggs, chicken breast, omega-rich fish and whey protein powder.
In addition to increasing the protein in your diet, limit your refined sugar intake and consume carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal and multigrain bread. Choose good fats found in salmon, nuts and avocado and up your fibre intake with lots of fruits and green leafy veggies.
3. Count on cardio training
Aim to do 30 minutes of cardio, three to five days a week. For the best results, include some form of interval training-alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.
“I tend to use a one-to-one work to rest ratio,” says Callaway. “For example, [I’ll do] a 30-second sprint followed by a 30 second jog or walk.”
You can vary the length and intensity of the intervals, starting at a speed and level that you feel comfortable with, she explains.
4. Add strength training
“The key to boosting your metabolism is increasing your overall muscle mass,” says Callaway. “This in turn will allow you to shed body fat and keep it off.” At least twice a week, aim to do one set (8-12 repetitions) each of 8-10 exercises that condition the major muscle groups such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, lunges, squats and push-ups.”
When it comes to targeting the abs, Callaway recommends that beginners perform static exercises such as front and side planks and stationary exercises with a medicine ball. “Once you improve your core strength you can work up to performing more advanced exercises.”
5. Get enough sleep
Research has shown that sleep deprivation can lead to increased appetite, as the levels of hormones that regulate hunger are altered by a decrease in sleep. Also, your exercise regime and healthy diet will suffer if you’re exhausted.
“Countless studies have revealed that people crave junk food, most notably sugar, salt and bad fat when they are sleep deprived,” says Callaway.
6. Control stress
Women’s waistlines are greatly affected by stress. “It affects the level of cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on the body if it is not at an optimal level” says Callaway. That can lead to the storage of abdominal fat and breakdown of the muscle, decreasing overall metabolism.
Find a way to release your daily stress by practicing self-care. Go for a short walk, wind down with a cup of tea and a good book, or join a yoga or Pilates class that will relax you while you work on your core.