Whether it’s springtime in the world, when the beaches beckon, you want to be in swimsuit shape. If you’re feeling a little flabby around the middle, or just want to do a little toning up, let these tips be your guide.
Following a Healthy Diet
Don’t eat anything for two to three hours before sleep
Your body slows down when you sleep, which will prevent your body from digesting the food in your stomach properly.
- You are also much less active in the evenings and at night, which means that your body is more likely to store the calories you consume late at night as fat, rather than burning them as energy.
- Try not to eat anything at least two to three hours before going to bed, or follow the “daylight diet”, which only allows you to eat during daylight hours.
There’s no real secret when it comes to having a flat-tummy friendly diet — you simply need to eat more healthy foods like fruit, veg, and whole grains, and cut down on junk food, like candy, chips and fast food. Just by making this simple switch, you’ll see a world of difference to your stomach. However, it’s not recommended that you go cold turkey — try to ease into a healthy diet by slowly, but consistently replacing the bad with the good. Here are some simple changes you can make:
- Eat lots of lean protein. Beans, nuts, and lean meat are rather good for you as long as you do not eat the fat!
- Eat whole grains. Look for labels that say “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” and not just “wheat flour.” Whole grains keep you fuller longer, which can help with weight loss and getting a flat tummy.
- Eat low-fat dairy products. Switch out your high-fat dairy for low-fat options, which are rich in protein and vitamin B6.
- Eat healthy fats. Not all fat is bad you know! The monounsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and fish oil are actually very good for you and can help you to lose weight. Just stay away from the trans fats found in processed foods and baked goods.
- Lower your sodium intake. Sodium causes your body to retain water, which causes you to look bloated — especially around your abdominal region. Whenever possible, try replacing high-sodium foods with healthier options. Switch regular table salt for kosher or sea salt, which are lower in sodium, and stay away from soy sauce as it’s full of it.
Reduce your portion sizes
Rather than eating the wrong kinds of foods, many people just eat too much of the right foods. You should eat just enough until you feel full, then stop. If you’re eating regular, healthy snacks throughout the day, this shouldn’t leave you feeling hungry.
- One good trick is to use smaller plates when you eat meals. That way, your plate will look like it’s heaped with food, but you’re actually eating less than you normally would. Also try to fill at least half the plate with vegetables.
- Try to chew more slowly and thoroughly when you eat. Chewing your food well helps to speed up the digestion process in the stomach, leaving you feeling less bloated and gassy. You should chew every bite until it reaches the consistency of applesauce.
- Take small breaks in between every bite of food when eating. The extra time will give your stomach a chance to realize that it’s full, thus preventing you from over-eating.
- Nuts and seeds are especially good snacks as they will make you feel more full.
Eat low-glycemic index foods
These items take longer to digest, so you feel full longer. Your body will slowly absorb the nutrients so you’ll avoid any spikes or drops in your blood sugar until your next meal. Some of the best low-GI foods are:
- Cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, dark leaf lettuce, onions, pears, tomatoes, watercress, broccoli, bananas, apples, and berries are all good foods to eat.
Try to cut as much sugar from your diet as possible
Besides being full of empty calories, having less sugar in your system will help to lower your insulin levels.
- Use artificial sweeteners with care. While they may help to reduce caloric intake, there is also evidence suggesting they trigger an increase in hunger that results in weight gain.
Eat a protein-rich snack between 3 and 4 p.m.
According to experts, eating a protein-rich snack at the magic hour between three and four in the afternoon will boost your metabolism and balance your blood sugar.
- A protein bar or shake, a handful of almonds, or pumpkin seeds, or a chunk of low-fat cheese are all good options.
- Having balanced blood sugars lowers the amount of insulin in your system, which is good because insulin can cause you to store fat around your middle.
Eat small, frequent meals
Replace your usual system of eating three large meals a day, with eating smaller, more regular meals. Many people make the mistake of eating nothing at all between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, especially when they are trying to lose weight.
- However, this type of diet will negatively effect blood sugar levels and cause you to eat more due to hunger, thus making it harder to lose weight.
- Having a small, healthy snack every three to four hours and not letting yourself go hungry is a much healthier and more effective system.
Drink plenty of water
You should replace all your regular beverages with water, especially soda and sugared drinks which are full of empty calories and will cause your stomach to bloat.
- Take water with you wherever you exercise or do strenuous activity and take water breaks during hot or heavy workouts.
- Drinking lots of water will help to flush toxins out of your system and keep your bowels moving, both of which are essential for a flat stomach.
- If you find regular water too boring, consider making sassy water instead. Sassy water is simply regular water infused with a number of refreshing and energizing ingredients, which help to speed up the metabolism and cut down on belly fat. Recipes vary, but many include some combination of ingredients such as orange slices, lemon slices, grated ginger, cucumber, fresh spearmint, and fresh basil. The water is left to infuse overnight — making it refreshingly “sassy” by the next morning!
- Pay attention to your body’s signs. Your urine should be a light yellow or clear color; dark yellow with an odor could be a sign that you are dehydrated.
Cut down on alcohol
While the prospect of cutting alcohol out of your diet completely may be hard to bear, you should seriously consider cutting down. Alcohol, particularly wine and beer, is full of calories (scary fact: one bottle of wine contains roughly 600 calories).
- Alcohol consumption also releases estrogen into the system, which is undesirable, as excess estrogen causes the body to retain weight.
- In addition, alcohol stimulates appetite and causes willpower to melt away, making you much more likely to binge on all the things you’ve been depriving yourself of, like burgers, fries, pizza, chocolate, and potato chips.