I’ve wanted a flat stomach all my life. After learning that crunches do more harm than good and realizing that zapping every ounce of fat on the belly was kind of hopeless, I pretty much gave up. But I recently found out that getting a belly like Beyonce’s actually might be a little easier than I thought. Just in time for bikini season, too! How convenient.
Exercise is critical, obviously, but lowering your stress level, eating the right foods and de-bloating are also crucial (and easy-to-achieve) steps to get flat fast.
Beyond the crunch
It’s hard to do an effective crunch without straining your neck or back, but there are plenty of other exercises that are better for your belly and the rest of your bod. Instead, work on overall core stabilization moves. By strengthening every muscle in your core, they flatten your stomach and protect you from back injuries.
• The push-up. That’s right, this phys ed classic still has kick. Make sure not to let your hips sag as you lower your body down with your arms. Try to bend your elbows enough so your chest almost touches the floor, then hold.
• The plank. This pilates move is one of the best for your core. For this exercise, you should be in a push-up position but supporting your body with your forearms, not your palms. With your body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles, hold yourself up by engaging your core and contracting your ab muscles. You should hold this for 30 seconds to a minute, breathing deeply.
When stress makes you fat, not flat
Stress is the culprit for acne, headaches and other physical woes – but belly fat, too? Indeed, high levels of stress trigger the cortisol hormone, which then leads to higher levels of belly fat. Take about 10 or 15 minutes a day to focus your attentions solely on relaxation. Take a bubble bath, do a couple of your favorite yoga moves or write in your journal to unwind. Maybe a flat stomach will soon be one less thing to stress about!
Fats for a flat belly?
What you eat makes a huge difference in how closely your stomach resembles a washboard. The key is to avoid foods that cause bloat and instead indulge in food that burns fat and stabilizes your blood sugar. This includes high-quality protein that take more time to metabolize and digest, meaning your body burns more calories in the process. Also, omega-3 fatty acids in high-fat foods like olive oil, avocados, fish and nuts increase your body’s fat oxidation. This is the process in which the body breaks down large fat molecules into smaller ones, which can be used for energy.
Avoid fizzy drinks like seltzer water and beer, since these tend to cause a bloated look. Plain water, on the other hand, keeps your belly flat by zapping bloat and preventing you from snacking. After all, dehydration is commonly confused for hunger.
Foods rich in potassium, like bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes and spinach, reduce bloat because potassium helps regulate your body’s fluid balance. Starchy carbs like pasta and bread can cause your body to retain water, which causes puffiness. You don’t need to cut these completely, but it can help to avoid them late in the day.
With these tricks, you might be more ready to rock a bikini by summer than you thought!