The Essential Rules of achieving a Flat Belly
The key aspects of achieving a flat belly are quite straight forward and simple. Eat healthy. Workout. Stay hydrated… Well, that’s pretty much it.
But why are each of these tips so crucial for tightening your core and shedding that extra mid-section fat? I mean, I get that doing sit-ups and eating salad is key to not gaining weight, but how is it so necessary for flattening my belly?
So, I wrote this fool-proof and simple guide to achieving an optimal state of gut-health – so that we can get a better understanding of why it’s so important to have a wholesome diet and nourishing fitness life when it comes to taking care of our abdomen.
Hydration is key.
While drinking loads of water per day probably won’t be the solution to tightening a flabby stomach, it will relieve you of the symptoms of a bloated belly caused by water and food retention. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water each day can help you drain your system of toxins, and fast-track the digestive and urinary process. It’s especially helpful to drink a full glass of water prior to a meal, to reduce hunger and amplify your food breakdown.
Watch your carbs.
And, no. I don’t mean cutting it out completely, I could never avoid the sweet satisfaction of a thick bowl of Sunday Spaghetti; but be careful of the types of carbohydrates your putting in your body. Simple carbs, such as those found in your natural sugars, fruits, and (non-fat) yogurts are great for a balanced and healthy diet. And, unrefined, complex carbohydrates – such as whole grains, peas and beans – which are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber are also a great addition to your diet.
But, to promote the development of a healthy gut and (of course) a flatter belly, it’s best to stay away from the refined carbs, which consist of white flour and white rice, and processed sugars, like candies and table sweets.
Run it off.
Working out. The next best thing after a healthy diet. To put it plain and simple, if you wanna get flat abs, you have to lose the fat around your belly. The perfect way to target this sort of fat loss is to do a variety of cardio workouts and ab exercises.
In my opinion, running on the treadmill will only take you so far (hahaha, literally). Try to do integrate high-intensity, and wide-variety cardio, like an uphill treadmill, fast-pace stair climbers, rowing machines, and the bicycle. By trying different cardio workouts, your training your body to target specific body parts, all while getting that blood pumping and body sweating.
Engage your core.
Much like cardio workouts, ab exercises are going to be key in toning your midsection. Dedicate a few days of your week to train your abdominal muscles, by doing varieties like Pilates, aerobics, crunch variations, lifting, and planks.
Avoid Processed Food.
Taking it back a few tips, where we spoke about carbs and refined carbohydrates. Watching our processed food intake is definitely one of the most important tips for a healthy diet. Eating raw or organic food (if your bank account allows it) is certainly an ideal method of avoiding processed foods, but honestly just look out for anything that is high in gluten, sodium or refined sugars and choose the cleaner alternatives.
The only reason it's suggested to do so is because processed foods have a more complex digestive process, and if you want to make sure you're digesting everything properly, avoiding food-induced bloating and indigestion, process-free foods are your certainly your best bet.
Eat small meals, frequently.
So, I never really understood why they said this until I lived it, first hand, for myself. I used to eat three massive meals per day, and never snack in between. The only reason I’m even suggesting eating smaller meals more often is that it really does make all the difference in the world.
Prior to big meals, you’re not eating. The only reason it actually fits in your belly is because you’re so hungry before your meal. Since your body is aware that it won’t eat in between, it stocks up on food and digests it as slowly as possible, to give you energy until your next feast. Makes sense right? It knows not to expect food for the next few hours, so it takes its time in breaking down the components of the meal you just ate.
You can eat smaller meals more often and allow your body the chance to be at work on a smaller impact. You’ll give it the opportunity to be more thorough during the digestive process, and this will ultimately automate your self-cleaning systems.
Avoid Alcohol consumption
Carbs and protein contain about four calories per gram, while fats contain nine. But did you know that alcohol has about seven calories per liquid gram? Crazy, isn’t it. And not to mention, alcohol is also processed differently from other macronutrients. When you drink, your body identifies alcohol as a toxin and works overtime to remove it. It gets side-tracked from its other digestive priorities, slowing down the fat oxidation process (burning fat for energy). Your body is responding to alcohol the same way it does for excess carbs, but instead of getting stored as fat it will convert into acetate, which essentially slows down the brakes for all, in any, fat loss.
12 oz of Beer = 153 calories and 13.9 grams of alcohol
12 oz of Light Beer = 103 calories and 11 grams of alcohol
5 oz of Red Wine = 125 calories and 15.6 grams of alcohol
5 oz of Liquor = 97 calories and 14 grams of alcohol
Lower your stress.
Last, but certainly not least. If you need any excuse to stop stressing yourself out, do it for your abs.
Stress causes so many detrimental effects on your gut, in which some symptoms very much include a lack of nutrients absorption, decreased metabolism due to negative effects made by your gastrointestinal acid flow, alterations in your to your digestive system, lack of probiotics, and on some real shitty tips, massive effects on your poop capacities. (See what I did there?)
Stress, on a short-term level, will cause a decrease in appetite and will shut down “unnecessary” body processes in order to focus on fighting the perceived potential threat. But looking at it long-term, stress leads to a series of bodily changes that can cause unwanted releases of inflammatory compounds, harmful cell reproduction, and putting you at risk for heart and gut disease, as well as diabetes and other medical disorders.
Not to mention, stress will disrupt your ability to make rational food choices. The cravings begin and before you know it, your blood sugar is elevated, and your insulin is released.
What’s so bad about that? Nothing really, other than the fact that large amounts of insulin release the number one fat-storing enzyme. And if that wasn’t bad enough, extreme amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) deteriorate your sensitivity to insulin. And when that happens, the hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) become imbalanced, and your brain slowly becomes unresponsive to the “stop eating” message.
So, you got a bunch of tips here today – not just for getting abs, but for becoming aware of the importance of your digestive health.
If you want to see the results you’re looking for, you need to do the work. Pay attention to what you put in and on your body, and do what is necessary to live a healthy life. Once you’ve mastered your fitness and well-being, the physical shape will follow.
Enjoy the occasional shot of whiskey, and the rare sugar-induced coma, but remember that what you put in, you get out. A flat belly is nice to look at, but the real gold lies in the mental and physical condition you’re in. When you feel good, looks come soon after.