Most of us, at some stage or another, have wished for a flatter and firmer tummy. With age and diet, it is often the layer of fat around our bellies – affectionately referred to as the spare tyre or muffin top – that shows the first signs of weight gain. Don’t worry! You are not alone, and as with all aspects of weight loss, there are two crucial elements in tackling your tummy. The first is your diet: what you eat regularly is going to have a 90% effect on the state of your belly. The second element is your training. Exercising is going to burn fat and tone up those tummy muscles.
Eating your way to a flatter tummy
Eat Protein Rich foods: Protein is important in building lean muscle. This also accelerates your metabolism and stabilizes your energy levels. Rich protein foods are foods such as lean meat, eggs, low-fat yoghurt and beans.
Eat Good Fats: Of course you should be steering clear of the bad fats, but don’t forget to include GOOD fats in your diet. Good fats help to control hunger, cravings and blood sugar. Bad fats to avoid are your trans fat and saturated fats, found in baked goods, processed foods and margarines. Good fats to incorporate into your diet can be found in avo’s, coconut oil, organic peanut butter, raw nuts and seeds.
Carbohydrates are KING: There are many claims that carbs are bad for you and in order to tone up or build muscle and lose fat you should cut out your carbs. This is not true! Carbs are the fuel that your body needs in order to work hard and burn fat. If you don’t eat carbs your body will burn the muscle that you do have instead. Too many carbs or the wrong carbs can be bad for you but you do need to consume enough carbs a day to be able to build muscle and tone your tummy. Try stick to natural and healthy wheat free carbs as these are much healthier for the body and digestive system. Those to avoid are your white refined breads, cakes and pastas, whilst the following are good: rye bread, rye vita’s, corn thins, rice cakes, brown rice, basmati rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes and barley.
Exercising your way to a flatter tummy
Exercising is key in obtaining that toned tummy you want. If it is just your tummy you want to improve, remember that you CANNOT spot reduce. Training just your tummy is not going to give you your desired results, as you will not burn enough calories overall to tone up. You need to practice a full body workout to get those calories crunching, and you will reap the rewards all over your body. Unfortunately it is fact that the place you gain weight first is the place you lose it last, so keep at it! Your hard work will pay off.
Here are some handy tips when it comes to training that tum.
Incorporate 30 minutes of cardiovascular training into your routine 3X a week.
Try to do 40 minutes of strength/resistance training at least 4X a week for 40 minutes.
Try the stomach vacuum: this is a little bit of incidental exercise we can all squeeze in – literally! When sitting or driving, pull your stomach in as if you were sucking your belly button to your spine. This will keep those muscles firing even when you’re not training.
At the end of every strength training session, practice at least 3 sets of 3 different ab exercises.
Use weights (when you strong enough) whilst performing your ab exercises. This will intensify the workout and speed up your progress.
Don’t forget to keep a balanced workout: you need to be fit overall before you will begin to show results in your problem area.
Know your limits: ripped or realistic?
If you are pushing yourself hard for results and are striving not only for a flat tummy, but a six-pack, be realistic. 6-packs and the rumoured 8-pack are real phenomena and are usually reserved for those in their teens and 20s. As we age, we accumulate more body fat – women especially, as we are designed to bear and nourish babies. With the right genetics and a very strict programme you can achieve that coveted six-pack, but be prepared to settle with a firm and flat tum – which is still pretty incredible! If you use the tips provided and set yourself a goal, you are on the right track towards unflabbing those abs and having a tummy to be proud of.