If you’re looking to shrink and tone your belly, there’s a better way to do it than trying to do crunches. In fact, research has shown that doing abdominal exercises alone—even when performed five days a week for six weeks—has no effect at all on subcutaneous fat stores and abdominal circumference.
In an op-ed piece for Forbes Magazine, Jennifer Cohen suggests using strategies that burn up cortisol instead. Cortisol is a hormone in your body that depletes lean muscle and holds on to fat in the abdominal region.
One of the most important ways to help this process is to reduce stress in your life, because stress causes cortisol levels to spike. Cohen also delves into a number of other strategies that help reduce your cortisol levels, such as the following.
Getting enough sleep
Reducing or eliminatingrefined sugarsfrom your diet
Slowing down your breathing
Doing short bursts of exercise (high-intensity interval training)
Supplementing with vitamin C
Eating fats―the good kinds such as the omega 3’s found in salmon,avocados and walnuts
THE KEY STRATEGY FOR REDUCING BELLY FAT
Cohen certainly brings up some good points. Getting sufficient amounts of sleep, for example, not only helps normalize cortisol levels, it’s also important in order to optimize your circadian clock, which can have a profound impact on your metabolism and weight. As an example, a couple of years ago researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat over the course of two weeks than dieters who only got 5.5 hours of sleep a night.
But the master key really lies with your diet, followed closely by the type of exercise you engage in
For one approach to getting a flat stomach, check out what Women’s Health Mag has to offer.
GET A FLAT STOMACH: SECRET WEAPONS OF WEIGHT LOSS
The Abs Diet revolves around a dozen delicious, convenient foods called the Abs Diet Powerfoods. All you need to do is eat the acronym: Almonds and other nuts, Beans and other legumes, Spinach and other green vegetables, Dairy (low-fat), Instant oatmeal, Eggs, Turkey and other lean meats, Peanut butter, Olive oil, Whole-grain breads and cereals, Extra-protein (whey) powder, Raspberries and other berries.
Yup, you read that right: You get to eat healthy protein, healthy fats, healthy carbs—there’s hardly anything you need to give up on this program. Ice cream? Sure, have it. Grilled cheese sandwiches? Yup. They’re in.
These are among the best sources of protein, fiber, and all the other ingredients and nutrients that help fight fat. In fact, they’re so good for you that they’ll just about single-handedly exchange your fat for a toned, lean body and sexy abs. You can base entire meals and snacks around them, but you don’t have to. Just be sure to follow these simple rules.
* Incorporate two or three of these foods into each of your meals and at least one of them into each snack. * Diversify your food at every meal to get a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. * Sneak a little protein into each snack.
A – Almonds and other nuts (with skins intact) Superpowers Builds muscle, reduces cravings Fights Obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer, high blood pressure
B – Beans and legumes Superpowers Builds muscle, helps burn fat, regulates digestion Fights Obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure
S – Spinach and other green vegetables Superpowers Neutralizes free radicals, molecules that accelerate the aging process Fights Cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis
D – Dairy products (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese) Superpowers Builds strong bones, fires up weight loss Fights Osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer