Many of us dream of having the washboard abs that we see actors and models sporting on TV, in the movies or on printed media. For most, however, it may seem like a far-off dream, always out of reach.
Exercise Isn’t Enough
Maybe you’re frustrated because you’ve been exercising diligently—jogging, doing crunches, and maybe even trying the occasional yoga pose—but you’ve still been unable to get a flat stomach. Why is that?
This is because while cardiovascular exercises like jogging and swimming burn fats in general, and abdominal exercises may add strength and tone to your lower torso, you may have eating habits that continuously replenish much of the fat lost through your workouts. Exercise needs to go hand-in-hand with a diet for a flat stomach.
The following foods can either help your body metabolize fats, or help you modify your eating habits:
Oatmeal. This fiber-rich meal will help your body maintain good blood-sugar levels and reduce serum cholesterol. Oatmeal will also keep you full for hours, helping you avoid binging. For the best results, use berries as a sweetening alternative to sugar.
Nuts. Nuts are a low-calorie way to stave off hunger. Avoid the salted variety, though, as sodium raises blood pressure.
Protein powder. Although gym buffs may be the only people you’ve heard talking about protein powder, it can definitely contribute to your diet for a flat stomach. It contains amino acids that not only build up muscle, but also help burn fat. If you want to make the most of this supplement, add a modest amount to a fruit or yogurt drink. Remember, protein powder is not an excuse to indulge in an ice-cream float!
Healthy Eating Habits
Changing the way you eat is another way to a flat stomach.
Be time-conscious. Try to eat as soon as you wake up. This will speed up your metabolism, which slows down while you sleep at night, and will help you get a running start on your fat-burning processes. Also, don’t eat anything two hours prior to going to bed. Otherwise, your body won’t have enough time to digest the food before sleep reduces your metabolic rate.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Most people eat three or two big meals a day to save time and effort. But by eating five of six small meals, you avoid overloading, which stretches your stomach and encourages you to eat larger servings, and you satisfy your body with a constant supply of food. The second effect is beneficial because when your body experiences hunger, it starts to store up fat and reduce metabolism. Remember, though, that the idea is not just eating more frequently, but also eating smaller servings at a time.
By eating the right food and cultivating the right eating habits, you can be well on your way to getting that flat stomach that you’ve been daydreaming about. The effects of right eating can even be enhanced by appropriate exercise routines.