Do you mind if I’m very honest with you?
If you have excess belly fat, you should be afraid. In fact, you should be downright scared.
Of course, when you look at your belly in the mirror, a feeling of shame and disappointment may be crossing your mind because you can’t stand how your belly looks. Guys are worried about how their bellies look when they take their shirts off at the beach or the swimming pool or in front of the ladies (at least that’s how I felt)!
Women are worried about having to cover up their stomach on vacation by wearing a sarong, or if they can fit in their favorite pair of jeans, or even when they sit down, how their stomach looks. How do they get rid of that muffin top?
And while it’s important to feel good about yourself, having excess belly fat is actually dangerous and poses a serious health risk. While we know it’s dangerous to have excess body fat, scientific research has shown that having excess fat in the abdominal area is even more dangerous and can lead to serious health problems.
There are 2 types of fat that you have in your stomach area. The first type that covers your abs from being visible is called subcutaneous fat and lies directly beneath the skin and on top of the abdominal muscles.
That second type of fat that you have in your abdominal area is called visceral fat, and that lies deeper in the stomach area beneath your muscles and surrounding your organs.
Both subcutaneous fat and visceral fat in the abdominal area are serious health risk factors, but science has shown that having excess visceral fat is even more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. Both types greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, various forms of cancer and other degenerative diseases.
So losing your belly fat should be one of your top priorities, not because you’ll look and feel a lot better (although that’s a nice side benefit) but because you’ll be at a lower risk for all types of illnesses and diseases.
So hopefully by now you’re ready – my Top 7 Tips To Get A Flat Belly. Now some of these tips you may already know, but knowledge isn’t going to get you very far if you don’t apply these strategies, right? If everyone was executing all 7 tips, we’d all be walking around with flat stomachs. But I know we’re not. 😉
OK let’s get down to business!
Flat Belly Secret #1 – Count ingredients, not calories. Eat single ingredient foods or foods with as few ingredients as possible.
No matter how much you workout, it won’t help much if your diet is out of whack. You should be eating whole, natural foods as much as possible, and get rid of sugars, processed and boxed foods, as well as foods high in trans fat. Even foods that you might think are healthy, such as cereals, reduced fat wheat crackers and frozen diet foods, are just disguised as health foods. Check out the ingredient list of those foods. They are a paragraph long and contain lots of junk.
Examples of foods that you should be eating include: eggs, spinach, fish, sweet potatoes, berries, chicken, turkey breast, raw almonds and other nuts, and oatmeal.
Flat Belly Tip #2 – You don’t need to spend 1-2 hours in the gym to get a flat stomach.
As a fitness professional, I’ve heard all the excuses in the world for missing a workout, including the #1 most common excuse – not enough time. Well let me break it down for you: there are 1,440 minutes in a day. Can you spare 20 minutes and dedicate that time to exercising and reducing your belly fat, which will dramatically decrease your chances of having a serious health issue?
If you said no, you should just stop reading this blog post right now. Because I know you’re not serious. If you said “yes!” that’s great! I know you’re serious and that still leaves you 1,420 minutes to get the rest of your stuff done during the day.
You can workout for 20 minutes, 6 days a week. 45 minutes, 3 days a week works well too! There is no one workout method that produces results, however when it comes to getting great results, the intensity of your workout matters most.
Flat Belly Tip #3 – You don’t need any fancy gym equipment to lose belly fat.
Bodyweight workouts are extremely effective at helping you burn belly fat and getting you an all around beautiful, defined body. They are the most convenient form of workouts and can be performed anywhere – in your home, in the backyard, in a hotel room, or even outside at a park. You’re more likely to stick to your routine because you don’t have to necessarily go to the gym.
But there are also biomechanical reasons why bodyweight movements are so effective. In life, we use our body has one integrated segment, like sitting down, reaching for something on a shelf, turning around, chasing your kids, or any of hundreds of other movements.
Your body should be trained imitating these movements to better cope with the demands of daily living and even sports. Machines at the gym make you stronger, but often isolate individual muscles too much and that’s not how your body is designed to work. Remember, I said we use our body as one integrated segment. Isolating muscles while training can lead to overuse injuries and imbalances.
Flat Belly Tip #4: You don’t need to do any crunches to get a flat stomach
There are a few problems with crunches. First, crunches isolate one muscle group – the abs. Remember, we said in everyday living the body works as one integrated unit, and it’s better to train it as such.
Second, when you do crunches, you are lying on your back on the ground for part of the time, so your abs are relaxed and not working during a portion of the crunch exercise.
Third, your abs play a critical role in stabilizing your spine (not flexing it) and should be trained for stabilization (like during a plank). During crunches, your abs are helping to flex the spine, not stabilize it.
And finally, crunches are not an intense enough exercise to where you’ll be burning fat. So for these reasons, crunches should be eliminated from your workout program. Pretty cool, huh? If you exercise smartly, like eliminating exercises that waste time, you can begin to see why you don’t need to do 1-2 hour long workouts.
Flat Belly Secret #5: Exercises that work your abs the entire time, as well as other large muscle groups, such as exercises in a standing, push up or plank position, are going to work best at flattening your belly and getting your entire body defined and lean.
Examples of exercises that fit this description are squats, push ups and forearm planks. These type of exercises not only train your abs, but since they are compound movements, they work more than one muscle group at a time. Many of these movements are strengthening movements, which help to build lean muscle which will boost your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories.
If the exercises are organized in the proper order, with little rest between movements, you can stimulate a high intensity cardio effect, resulting in training in an anaerobic state. This will allow for increased metabolism for several hours after the workout is complete, allowing your body to burn more fat calories, which will get your stomach flatter.
Flat Belly Secret #6: Incorporate weight based interval training into your workouts.
Combining your weight training with cardio workouts – full body weight exercises with heavy weights and sprint based drills inserted continuously into the workout – will help you burn more fat.
A recent study by Davis et al, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, examined 2 groups of exercisers. Group A did 60 minutes of resistance training followed by by 30 minutes of aerobic training. Group B alternated resistance training with a high intensity treadmill sprint (the weight based interval training group).
Group B showed an almost 10 fold reduction in body fat than Group A, and an over 80% increase in muscle strength.
A sample weight based interval training workout would be:
Push Ups x 30 seconds
Squat Jumps x 30 seconds
Bodyweight Rows x 30 seconds
Burpees x 30 seconds
Squat Presses x 30 seconds
Jump Rope x 30 seconds
Check out this video I did with Holly Rigsby, The Fit Yummy Mummy for another great example of a weight based interval training workout to help you burn more fat:
Flat Belly Secret #7 – Ditch the wheat and cut the sugars
When I was a kid, I ate a lot of bread. I remember Mom making me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Wonder bread and sending me off to school.
As I got older and started making my own sandwiches, was told that white bread wasn’t good for me and wheat bread was better. So I made the switch. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true.
Wheat can actually cause inflammation in your gut. That’s right – wheat contains gluten and there are a lot of people intolerant to gluten, and they can’t digest it. Also the wheat in stores is processed and many products containing wheat also have high fructose corn syrup. So it’s best to ditch the wheat altogether.
When it comes to refined sugars, there’s just nothing good about it. Too much sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, low energy, metabolic syndrome and excess body fat. Make sure you check the food label on the foods you’re eating, because many of the foods you may think are healthy, like protein bars and yogurt, may contain a lot of sugar in them.
So there you have it – my top 7 tips for a flat belly. Just just read these tips. Go out and put them to good use! 🙂
One more thing before I sign off – getting a flat stomach really begins and ends with your nutrition, which is why I put a nutrition tip first and last. Just know that you can do all the exercising in the world, but if you’re eating crap, it won’t do you any good when it comes to helping you get a flat belly.
I would welcome any comments or questions, so please post them below. And I would be grateful to you if you would share this with your friends.