12 tricks to help lose belly fat
Exercise in bursts
Awesome news: Turns out that marathoning for an hour on the treadmill isn't only boring as hell, but it doesn't even really give you that great of a workout. Experts say that if you're trying flatten your abs, one of the most effective methods is actually interval training, which means incorporating short bursts of high-intensity burnouts into whatever you're doing, whether that's running, squats, whatever. And bonus—it'll keep you burning calories for up to 16 hours post-exercise. Um, we'll take it.
Stretch, then crunch
The most common mistake you're probably making when doing abwork is jumping in without limbering up, which causes you to do most of the work with your hips and back. See, your core muscles are harder to activate when the areas surrounding it are still tense. Try this: Before doing a single crunch, put a foam roller in the center of your back at the edge of your shoulder blades and stretch back over the roller, arms up. Repeat until the middle part of your back, which tends to get pulled the most during improper abwork, feels loose.
Dip into the olive oil
Yeah, it sounds a little weird, but hear us out. Experts say that certain compounds in olive oil stimulate a hormone in your stomach that signals to your brain that it's full. Thus, it curbs your appetite so your body doesn't feel quite as hungry. You probably don't want to shoot it straight up, so try dipping some multi-grain bread into about a tablespoon of the stuff 15 minutes before a meal. Quirky, but it should keep you from overeating and packing on unnecessary lbs.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
We get that the last thing you want to do when you're feeling puffy is to chug water, but experts say that it's critical to regulating your metabolic rate (and consequently, your body's fat-burning mechanisms). Drinking your recommended eight glasses of H2O daily will help your body run more efficiently, making your workouts and healthy eating efforts way more effective. Plus, the more water you drink, the more excess you'll flush out, so you wind up actually de-bloating as a result. Win-win.
Nix that before-bed snack
You know not to crush half a pizza before jumping in bed…but even munching on something healthy-ish at night can throw off your calorie-burning momentum. Ideally, while you're sleeping you want your body to burn its current fat storages (read: that pesky middle-jiggle) for fuel as opposed to whatever you ate as a midnight snack. Make sure to fill up at dinner every night, and then banish yourself from the kitchen at least two hours before bed.
One of the top belly-fat-building offenders is stress—and not just because that bad day at work can make you feel like demolishing a pint of Cherry Garcia. When your body senses that you're overwhelmed, it automatically starts producing cortisol—a hormone has been proven to eff with your body chemistry and stimulate extra fat-storage in your gut. Yeah, sucks. When you're feeling worked up, close your eyes and take long, deep breaths for about five minutes. You'll immediately start to feel more relaxed, which should calm those hormones down and nix that belly sabotage.
Get your zzzs
Adult women require anywhere from six to eight hours of sleep every night. If you're staying up late on the regs and aren't meeting that minimum, you'll throw off your natural rhythm, which can cause your body to freak out and start overproducing hormones (including cortisol). By getting the right amount of sleep every night, your body and metabolism will stay regulated—keeping you and your tummy on-point.
Eat every three hours
You might think passing on lunch will save calories and trim your middle, but you're actually trending toward the opposite. Going long periods of time without eating can send your body into starvation mode, meaning it starts storing everything you've already eaten as fat since it doesn't know when you're going to feed it again. And guess where that chub piles on first? Yup. Your midsection. Experts say having a small meal or snack every three hours will keep your body fueled and in prime calorie-torching mode all day.
Load up on greens
Not only are vegetables like kale, lettuce and broccoli practically calorie-free, they're also full of vitamins and are super-filling. Munching on these at lunchtime or for snack will make you less likely to eat something naughty and pudge-inducing later on.
Stick to one or two drinks
There's nothing wrong with hitting up happy hour. But when you start to drink in excess, you'll wind up packing on weight in your midsection since alcohol is digested as a sugar, and sugar ultimately turns into fat. Think of a bottle of wine as a stack of cookies—both convert into your body the same way, so you should moderate your intake accordingly.