Anxiety produces extra cortisol, the hormone that encourages the body to store fat—particularly in the abdominal region. Practicing deep-breathing exercises can help alleviate stress levels, so hit the "pause" button in your mind every hour and take five to 10 deep-belly breaths, inhaling for five counts and exhaling for 10 counts. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means the more you have, the faster your metabolism is and the more calories you burn all day long—all key for a flat stomach. Resistance training builds this quality lean muscle, so do two to three total-body strength sessions a week , says Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag.
In a Penn State study, dieters who ate whole instead of refined grains lost more fat from around their midsections.
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And Tufts University researchers reported that people who included three servings of whole grains and less than one serving of refined carbs daily had 10 percent less visceral fat than those who didn't follow this diet. When doing an abs circuit, think about all three planes of motion, says celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson , who works with Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardashian, and Vanessa Lachey. Try crunches and reverse crunches to hit your sagittal front to back and up and down plane, standing side bends for frontal side-to-side movement, and chops or twists for transverse rotational action.
Multiple studies show that EGCG, an antioxidant in green tea, helps boost metabolism and may specifically target abdominal fat. Most research has used high doses of tea, but even if you can't manage to guzzle gallons, any amount is beneficial. If you don't like herbal tea, snack on pineapple—it contains bromelain, an enzyme that appears to do the same. He suggests spending the majority of your workout focusing on the rest of your body, and dedicating no more than 10 percent of your time to abs work.
Twenty teaspoons adds up to empty calories a day. And ICYMI, insulin production also increases with sugar intake, which can slow your metabolism, making it harder to burn those empty calories. Read labels and try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
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At the gym, focus on movements that work bigger muscle groups and multiple muscle groups such as squats and lunges instead of isolation movements such as leg extensions and leg curls. The best diet for abs leading up to a beach weekend? Foods that won't cause extra bloating. That's why Peterson recommends focusing your diet on protein and leafy green vegetables for dinner and no dessert or nighttime snacks!
A classic Pilates move, the roll-up is 38 percent more effective at targeting the rectus abdominis the "six-pack" and percent more effective at targeting the obliques than a basic crunch, according to an Auburn University study. To do it, lie faceup with legs straight, and ankles, knees, and thighs together. Flex feet and extend arms overhead.
Inhale to prepare as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. On your exhale, continue to roll up by drawing in abdominals, reaching arms up and over toward feet. Pause and inhale. On your exhale, roll down through each vertebra in a controlled movement, keeping heels pressed evenly into the floor the entire way up and down.
Do 15 reps, making them as controlled and precise as you can, as many days a week as possible. Keeping a food journal is an easy way to control your weight and help you become more aware of any belly-bloating triggers, Bannan says. Write down what you're eating and how your stomach feels throughout the day, and you might discover what isn't treating your tummy kindly.
Ask yourself: Do I feel gassy? Am I overfull after just a few bites of certain foods? Does my stomach make sounds or feel swollen following specific meals? Your body can retain water when your sodium and potassium levels are out of whack, Bannan says. In addition to keeping your sodium in check, consume potassium-rich foods to maintain the balance and de-bloat your belly.
Plus, it's one of the most important minerals for your workouts. Then they progress to performing vacuums during the exercise: Suck in your abs like you're trying to button jeans that are too tight. Repeat until the end of your plank. You'll have to build back up to a minute, but it's worth it, Peterson says.
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If your stomach's natural bacteria falls out of equilibrium, it can slow down your digestion and lead to bloating, Bannan says. Live active cultures in yogurt and probiotic drinks can help rebalance your levels, so aim for one serving a day. The fat in fried foods is digested more slowly, which can cause you to feel heavy and puffy, Henderiks says.
Good news: You can get a similar taste without as much fat by cooking with an air fryer. Throw intense, high-speed intervals into your usual cardio workout to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Here's more about the afterburn effect and how it can help you lose weight. Peterson recommends adding sprints of 10, 20, and 30 seconds and recovering for two to three times that long. Bonus: You can "sprint" on anything: treadmill, bike, rower, swimming, elliptical—you name it.
Monounsaturated fats—such as those in olives, nuts, and avocados —appear to increase fat oxidation, especially dreaded belly pudge. Plus they can help you stick to your diet, as fat is filling and adds flavor to your meals, Bannan says. All fats are high in calories, though, so stick to two or three servings a day and watch your portion sizes. Your coworkers who sit on Swiss balls may look a little odd, but this trick makes you engage your abs, Holland says.
Try lifting one or both legs every half hour or so, which will work your core stabilizer muscles even more as you try to balance. Drawing your navel in toward your spine activates and strengthens the transverse abdominis your deepest ab muscle Do it in the shower, at work, wherever! Regular exercise can also help you sleep better, reduce stress, control your weight, brighten your mood, sharpen your mental functioning, and improve your sex life.
The secret to weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise – is this true?
A well-rounded exercise program has four components: aerobic activity, strength training, flexibility training, and balance exercises. Each benefits your body in a different way. Aerobic exercise is the centerpiece of any fitness program. Nearly all of the research regarding the disease-fighting benefits of exercise revolves around cardiovascular activity, which includes walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling.
Experts recommend working out at moderate intensity when you perform aerobic exercise — brisk walking that quickens your breathing is one example. This level of activity is safe for almost everyone and provides the desired health benefits. Additional health benefits may flow from increased intensity.
Strength or resistance training, such as elastic-band workouts and the use of weight machines or free weights, is important for building muscle and protecting bone. Bones lose calcium and weaken with age, but strength training can help slow or sometimes even reverse this trend. Not only can strength training make you look and feel better, but it can also result in better performance of everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying bundles. Stronger muscles also mean better mobility and balance, and thus a lower risk of falling and injuring yourself.
In addition, more lean body mass aids in weight control because each pound of muscle burns more calories than its equivalent in fat. Stretching or flexibility training is the third prong of a balanced exercise program. Muscles tend to shorten and weaken with age. Shorter, stiffer muscle fibers make you vulnerable to injuries, back pain, and stress. But regularly performing exercises that isolate and stretch the elastic fibers surrounding your muscles and tendons can counteract this process.
And stretching improves your posture and balance.
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Balance tends to erode over time, and regularly performing balance exercises is one of the best ways to protect against falls that lead to temporary or permanent disability.
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