I’ve always been skinny. Now I’m finding that aging is adding some mass to my frame. Unfortunately the mass isn’t all where I want it to be. I’m getting something of a butter-belly (or beer belly, if you must). When I saw the above-referenced article, what I read made sense, so I share it here with my friends, who may benefit from the read as well. This is condensed from “29 Tips for a Flat Stomach.” I thought 29 was way too many. – Greg
18 Tummy Tips Gleaned from the Web
1 – Cut Back on Sodium
The more sodium in your diet, the more bloating in your belly. The American Heart Association estimates that you can cut your sodium intake by 30 percent simply by putting your saltshaker out of reach. Worried that your food will taste bland? Garnish with herbs, spices, and citrus juices instead.
2 – Beat the Bloat
Your diet and exercise regimens work hand-in-hand so make sure you avoid belly-bloating foods on days you want a tight tummy. Here are two to know:
- Sorbitol, a sugar found naturally in fruits, (apples, pears, peaches, prunes), as well as in artificial sweeteners, many dietetic foods, and sugar-free candies and gums.
- Starches, including potatoes, corn, rice, bread, noodles and any products made from flour. These produce more gas as they are broken down in the large intestine.
3 – More Belly Bloaters
- Legumes have a complex structure of starch and protein and therefore can cause bloating and gas. Soaking and cooking them well helps to reduce bloating.
- Fiber, both soluble and insoluble. If you are trying to increase your fiber intake through diet or supplements, do this slowly and ensure you are adequately hydrated. Increasing your intake too quickly can lead to bloating, cramping, and/or constipation.
4 – Avoid Carbonation
Fizzy drinks are infused with air, so it makes sense that they have stomach-puffing attributes. The carbon dioxide causes gas and slows down the process of the stomach emptying itself.
5 – Get Some Sleep
Sleepless nights mean stressful days, which can lead to emotional-eating binges. What’s more, researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center tracked 12 healthy males and found that those who got only four hours of rest at night had a 23 percent increase in appetite. So strive for at least seven hours of sleep a night. (from GoodHousekeeping.com)
6 – Stress and Temperament
Getting riled raises levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in your body, and that increase can cause you to gain weight. Plus, research suggests that the angrier you get — and the more frequently you get angry — the more likely you’ll be to put on pounds around your waist. (Hostility also ups your risks of cardiovascular problems.) So the next time someone pushes your button, take 10 deep breaths and ask yourself, Is this really that big a deal? (from GoodHousekeeping.com)
7 – Weight Train
University of Pennsylvania researchers tracked 164 women and found that those who lifted weights for an hour twice a week lost 15 percent more abdominal fat than those who didn’t. They also cut their total body fat by almost four percent.
8 – Time Well Spent
Matthew McConaughey may have you thinking differently, but a good ab workout doesn’t need to take long. “I trained Jennifer Aniston about three days a week, and we did no more than five minutes of abs each time, says Kathy Kaehler, trainer and author of Kathy Kaehler’s Celebrity Workouts. “Check your form, don’t use momentum, and focus on quality rather than quantity.” (from MarieClaire.com)
9 – Rest and Recovery
Abs need R&R just like the rest of your body. It’s only during rest that your muscles build. “Three to five days a week of consistent, dedicated abdominal training should get you strong, sleek abs,” says Kaehler. (from MarieClaire.com)
10 – Don’t Forget Cardio
Exercising just your abs will make you appear slouched, so make sure to incorporate cardio into your fitness routine. Cardio is essential to burn the layer of fat around your core. (from MarieClaire.com)
11 – Half Hour of Power
To show off the abs of steel you’ve been building, 30 minutes of cardio gets you further than 30 minutes of crunches. To burn off the layer of fat that’s hiding your muscles, ab-specific contractions just don’t do the trick, says Len Kravitz, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at the University of New Mexico. Ab moves burn about two to six calories per minute, while cardio blasts 10 or 12.
12 – Maximize Your Results
Get twice the results in half the time: Slow down a little. Take four counts to come up and four counts to come back down. At the hardest part of each crunch, do five to 10 small pulses. You’ll get the body you want faster by doing 10 slow repetitions instead of 20 fast ones. Moving slowly — two counts up and two counts down — allows you to use more precise form, which can stimulate your muscles better and make them stronger, says Rodney Corn of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. (The faster you go, the more likely you are to use momentum instead of your abs.) Your muscles should feel tired in 15 reps. (from MarieClaire.com)
13 – Don’t Be So Fancy
The standard crunch can pack major benefits if done correctly. Contract your abs, while letting your head, upper back, and shoulders come off the floor all in one motion. Keep your face pointed to the ceiling, always moving toward the ceiling instead of your knees, being careful not to pull on your head with your hands. Hold and squeeze for a moment at the top, then slowly return to the starting position. (from MarieClaire.com)
14 – Make Over Your Crunch
Your abs are just like your biceps — to make them stronger and tighter, you don’t need to necessarily do more reps. Try adding a three- to five-pound weight and place it behind your head or on your chest, then do one set of eight to 15 sit-ups, working up to more sets as you get stronger.
15 – Work On Posture
Balance out your exercises and posture by working on your back as well to make your abs look slimmer. Lie facedown on the floor, arms extended above your head. Use your back to lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor. Release, then repeat.
16 – Reverse Crunches
Try reverse crunches with a lift to slim your midsection: “Since skintight dresses show the pooch, I suggest doing a lot of reverse crunches with a lift,” says Ramona Braganza, who’s sculpted the lean bods of Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, and Jessica Biel. Lie on your back, knees pulled up to chest and hands under your butt to support your lower back. Uncurl legs straight out, keeping them six inches from the floor. (Don’t let them touch the ground!) Lift legs straight up so that they’re perpendicular to the floor and add a small lift of your butt. Curl legs back into the start position. Do three sets of 10.
17 – Marine Crunches
Lie on your back with your legs raised straight above your hips and your arms reaching to the ceiling. Simultaneously reach your fingertips toward your toes and press your feet toward the ceiling to lift your tailbone off the floor. Beginner tip: Instead of lifting your feet and hands together, alternate between lifting the upper body and the hips.
18 – Side Planks
Lie on one side with your knees bent and your forearm on the floor. Keep your elbow in line with your shoulder. Press your weight into your elbow and lift your hips and upper body off the floor so you make a straight line from knee to head. Hold for as long as you can — try 10 to 20 seconds at first; build up to a minute. Switch sides. As you get stronger, try straightening the arm, straightening the legs and then straightening both.