|Five Secrets to a Flatter Tummy|
|Written by Elisa Kosonen|
No matter what your body shape is—thin, athletic or curvy— flat abs are no easy feat. Genetics and lifestyle factors play such a role in how our stomach looks that as soon as swimsuit season hits, we’re all looking for the key to a sleeker waistline, no matter how many crunches we’ve done. The good news? There is hope for all of us! By making a few changes with these expert tips, a flatter tummy is within reach.
1. Switch to a Whole Foods Diet
If there’s one thing we can all do to achieve a sleeker stomach, it’s change the way we eat. “The fact is that the way we look, physically, is at least 80% diet,” admits Matt Reid, GM at Studeo55 in Vancouver who has trained the enviable abs of celebrities such as Halle Berry, Renée Zellweger and Anne Hathaway. “And this is coming from a fitness guy.” Choosing healthy, whole foods that are easier to digest will keep our system happy and lean, and, therefore, our abs too. “Eliminating toxins in your body will help get rid all that stuff that builds up on your intestinal walls and makes you look puffy,” Alyssa Bauman, holistic nutritionist at Nourished advises. “Take back control of what you’re eating. Preservatives, nitrates, chemicals and all these funky ingredients we’re putting in our bodies will definitely cause bloating.”
Diet Tip: Start each day with warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne to alkalize your body and get your digestive system whirring.
2. Reduce Stress
“When we’re stressed, we release the hormone cortisol, which makes our stomach more bloated,” Bauman says. Not only does stress lead to weight gain in the stomach area, cortisol triggers the body to retain water and leads to a puffy feeling and appearance. Reducing stress isn’t a flick of a switch, however, so take small steps towards relieving anxiety at work and at home. Make the time to stretch, take a yoga class, dip into a bubble bath, go for a walk with girlfriends or watch a funny movie. Any activity that helps you feel happier and more relaxed will also make a positive impact on the shape and health of your tummy.
3. Drink Your Greens
Leafy greens are full of nutrients that contribute to good health and a satiated appetite and help pull out any toxins that have been sitting in our bodies since the day we discovered macaroons. Try incorporating greens such as spinach, kale or Swiss chard into every meal, or sip on a green juice. “It’s my therapy in a jar. If I have any kind of problem, I’ll drink my green juice and feel really good,” Bauman says. She recommends a recipe of celery, spinach, parsley, kale, cucumber, lemon, ginger and a fruit of your choice. “If you drink this midday or morning it gives you a ton of energy and reduces your sugar cravings. That means you’re not going to choose a muffin at 4 o’clock.”
Diet Tip: Don’t eat and drink together. Washing down each bite won’t let the digestive enzymes do their job and also creates bloating. Try to leave 15 minutes between meals and liquids, Bauman advises.
4. Go Wheat-Free
Whether it’s a crusty baguette or dish of whole grain pasta, when we eat wheat, our bodies think: Yum, sugar! This causes a spike in blood sugar that sets your body up to turn your food into fat. Even the healthiest of these simple carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain and that puffy feeling, particularly around the midsection. If you’re thinking about choosing gluten-free options, make sure to read the labels and ingredients carefully. Bauman advises that “gluten-free doesn’t equal healthy” as many recipes contain fillers such as corn and potato starch that aren’t friendly to our stomachs either. Try choosing brown rice or quinoa instead.
5. Mind Your Core
At the gym, the key to a flatter stomach is working out every aspect of your midsection. “I suggest adding exercises for all parts of the core—lower back, upper abs, lower abs and obliques,” says Reid. Studeo55 encourages all their clients to get to a point where they can complete the following: hold plank for two minutes, hold side plank for one minute each side, and hold an assisted back extension for one minute. These exercises are easy to do at home with a yoga mat and exercise ball. Try incorporating them into your fitness routine in combination with a few days of cardio training.