You do crunches and you hold the plank, but the midsection has still not reached the level of ‘toned’ you want it to. 62% of women say the body part they’re most self-conscious about is their belly. Worry not though!
Here are changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle to shrink that waistline — and HEALTHILY.
1. EAT AFTER EXERCISING
The best time to have your largest meal of the day is after you’ve exercised hard. Just don’t eat late at night and don’t go too overboard. This is because you’ve just reduced your body’s fuel reserves, and food is helping your recovery. Plus, when your body is in a recovery state, incoming calories and nutrients stand a better chance of being absorbed by muscle tissue instead of being stored as fat. Eat lean meat and load up on good dairy so your muscle can recover faster.
2. EAT WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY
According to Purdue University researchers, the biggest problem with our noshing behaviour is that snacks have become meals, and meals have become feasts. In the past 30 years, snack sizes have increased from 360 calories to a whopping 580 – and when you consider that the average woman snacks twice during each workday, you’re looking at almost 500 extra calories a day. So eat only when you get hungry and don’t force yourself to down big meals just because that’s what the doctor ordered.
3. EAT FAT TO SLIM DOWN
This is a proven fact, eating fat will help you become slim. The Institute of Medicine recommends that fatty foods make up 20 to 35 percent of your total calories. As long as you include the right fats – primarily monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) like nuts, avocados, and healthy oils, and stay away from processed foods that contain trans fats, such as baked goods, cookies and fried burgers. Just remember to indulge in moderation and remember that fatty foods that are good for your body, including beef, pork, eggs (including yolks), and cheese.
4. STOP CALORIE COUNTING
When it comes to belly fat, what ultimately matters is the amount of calories you take in versus the amount you burn. So keeping this math in mind, it’s a given that you’d be tempted to get a food diary and frantically count every apple you eat and every sip of coffee you take. Bad news is that this will not help you build any abs, instead it’ll only stress you out more, so put away the calculator. Stop keeping track of numbers and add wholesome, energy-dense foods, such as lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, to your plate.
5. CARBS ARE NOT YOUR ENEMY
Let’s banish the age-old myth! Carbohydrates are not your enemy! Yes, if you overeat them, you’ll gain weight, but so you will with any other food group. When it comes to weight loss, your total calorie balance is what matters. If you eat more than you burn, the unused calories turn into fat that gets stored in your belly (and elsewhere), regardless of where those calories come from. And when it comes to carbs, yes they fill you up sooner and can be not-so-great for you, but if you choose the complex kind found in whole grains, you’re on safe grounds. This is because these complex carbs tend to fill you up with fibre, it’s easier to eat them in controlled portions than it is with highly processed refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and rice.
6. GRAB A PROTEIN SHAKE
According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, participants whose diets included whey protein for 23 weeks had less body fat and a smaller waist than those who chose soy or vegan protein powder. Include a least one whey protein shake drink in your daily diet, just make sure it’s pre or post a workout session for optimum results.
7. LIMIT THE SWEETENERS
There’s no direct link between consuming artificial sweeteners and gaining weight, however there is some research that indicates that once the tongue tastes what a higher calorie meal tastes like and it doesn’t actually get it in terms of calories, diet foods made with chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives can actually have a negative impact and can leave you craving more food, causing you to overeat. A group of scientists at the University of Minnesota found that diet sodas and fake sugars may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, which results in higher levels of belly fat, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Try reducing the intake of these artificial sweeteners, before you eliminate them from your diet completely. Or substitute with natural sweeteners like honey and rice malt syrup.
8. STEER CLEAR OF FAT-LOSS PILLS
Most fat-loss pills are a waste of money, and many carry scary risks. The truth is, the fat loss caused by any supplement is minor and is even less significant in people who have a substantial amount of weight to lose. Focus on what you eat and how much you exercise — instead of popping pills.