What are the fastest, easiest ways to lose that muffin top and ditch that gut? Believe it or not, the real path to a better midsection has very little to do with how many crunches you can knock out. It’s all about consistency with the following five actions:
1. Fuel Up
Foods rich in protein help you build muscle, while soluble fiber – found in oats, beans, fruits, and veggies – shrinks belly fat. A study from Wake Forest found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber people ate daily (about two small apples, a serving of oatmeal, a half cup of pinto beans, and a half cup of peas — use these as snacks throughout your day), their belly fat decreased by almost 4%!
Adding ground flaxseed to your diet – mix a teaspoon or two into cereal or yogurt – helps prevent constipation. (It’s hard to have flat abs if your pipes are backed up.) To avoid stomachaches, increase fiber slowly and up your water intake, advises Jessica Crandall, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In a Duke University study of 196 sedentary, overweight adults, aerobic training significantly reduced deep belly fat and also burned more visible midsection flab. To maximize the benefit with a minimum time commitment, try interval training, suggests exercise physiologist Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise. Start with a 1:2 ratio (jog 30 seconds, then walk briskly for a minute), aiming for 150 minutes weekly.