How long have you been loathing that little mound of fat on your belly? How long have you been aching for a tight, flat stomach that you're not embarrassed to show off during hot summer days? It's time to read up and get to work on getting your dream stomach!
First, let's focus on a healthy diet, something that is absolutely vital to achieving a flat tummy. You could be exercising all you want, but if you're not eating right, all that effort just goes to waste.
1. Don't eat two to three hours before sleep. Your body slows down during sleep, and so does your digestive system. When your body can't digest the food you ate properly, it's more likely to store the calories as fat instead of burning them as energy.
2. Eat a healthy diet. Protein is essential, whether you're getting it from beans, nuts or lean meats. You also should eat lots of whole grains. Make sure to look for packaging that says "100 percent whole grain" or "100 percent whole wheat," NOT just "wheat flour." Whole grains keep you fuller longer so you're not overeating. Also look for low-fat dairy products. They're rich in protein and vitamin B6! Healthy fats like monounsaturated fats in avocados, nuts and fish oil are always encouraged in a balanced diet. You should avoid trans fats often found in baked goods and processed foods. A lower sodium intake is key in a balanced diet, because excessive sodium causes your body to retain water and bloat around your abs. Try switching your table salt for Kosher or sea salt, and avoid any and all soy sauce! Check out this awesome list of flat belly foods!
3. Eat small portion sizes. Eating the right foods in large portion sizes is still bad for you! Eat only until you're full, and then stop. Save the rest for tomorrow's lunch or for a snack a little later on. If you chew your food more slowly and thoroughly, your body's digestive process will speed up tremendously and you will be left feeling less bloated and gassy. A good tip is to chew until your food is of an applesauce texture. Take breaks in between bites in order to give your stomach a chance to realize if it's full or not!
>> Flat Tummy Fact: Did you know eating off a smaller plate can actually help you eat less? It will look like your plate is heaping with food, when really you're eating smaller portion sizes!
4. Cut sugars from your diet. It sounds difficult, but if you can cut all or most sugars from your diet, your figure will thank you. Sugars are essentially just empty calories, and eating less of them will decrease your insulin levels. Want to learn more about the dangers of sugar in your diet? Click here.
5. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated has been beaten into our heads for as long as we can remember, but it's a vital aspect to losing weight! Drinking the recommended 64 ounces of water every day flushes toxins out of your system and keeps your bowels moving. Drinks like sodas are full of sugars and also cause your stomach to bloat.
>> Read more: Hate the 'Taste' of Water? Try These 7 Things
6. Cut down on alcohol. We are all aware of the benefits of red wine, but we are also aware of the phrase "everything in moderation." Alcohol is chock-full of unwanted calories. Plus, excessive alcohol drinking releases estrogen, and excessive estrogen causes weight gain.
Now that we've got the healthy diet down pat, let's focus on exercise. Both aerobic exercise and strength training are important to burning fat.
You should try to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio every day, with one or two rest days per week. Cardio is important because it burns fat throughout all parts of your body, and you have to burn fat in order to lose the tummy pooch. Here are a couple easy beginner cardio moves:
1. Jumping Jack: Hopefully these don't bring back too many memories of high school gym class! These get your heart pumpin' and your blood flowin'. Here's how to do them.
2. Mountain Climber: Mountain climbers work your legs and core as well as help to blast fat all around your body! Here's how to do them.
3. Plank Jack: Plank jacks are the perfect way to incorporate cardio into a good old fashioned plank. They get tough after a while, but that's the point! Here's how to do them.
Check out the cardio section in our fitness index to find even more great cardio workouts.
Strength training is important when it comes to burning fat because having more muscle will increase your metabolism, so you'll burn more calories over time. Who doesn't want a faster metabolism? Check out some strength training moves to incorporate into your fitness routine.
1. Side Crunch: Side crunches add a literal twist on the basic crunch so that you're targeting more core muscles. Learn how to do it here!
2. Forearm Plank: This is a classic strength training move because it really tests the endurance of your arms and core. Here's how to do a forearm plank!
3. Waist Trimmer: With a name like "waist trimmer," you're bound to see results with this move! It targets your core and obliques to get rid of those love handles. Here's how to do it.
Looking for more strength training moves? Check out the strength section in our fitness index. Workouts like this pooch blaster and this Buzzworthy 8-Minute Abs Routine are also great places to start!