By Lucas Johnson, BDO Staff Writer
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 four percent!
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.
4. Stand Up Straight
Standing tall, with your tummy and butt tucked in, automatically makes your front look flatter. These two moves help you pull it off. Do each two to three times per week; work up to three sets of 12 reps.
Even sitting up straight daily, instead of slouching over as you watch TV or are on your phone, will help you build up the muscles around your
stomach. Just think about it: you’re doing a light version of a plank, standing up!
5. Strengthen Your Core
Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with bent knees, and feet on the floor. Lift butt, drawing pelvis to the ceiling without arching back. Lower your butt down slowly.
Bird Dog: From all fours, extend one arm and the opposite leg to shoulder and hip height simultaneously, keeping shoulders and hips squared to the floor. Lower slowly to start, and repeat on the opposite side.
Front Plank: Lie on your stomach, with forearms on the floor and hands palm-down on either side of your chest. Tuck toes, lift legs, tighten abs, and raise your body to a modified push-up position, keeping forearms on the floor. Hold five seconds, then lower. Repeat three times. Work up to holding for 20 seconds each time.
Half-Kneel Lift: Kneel on right knee, with left foot forward and left knee at a 90-degree angle. Hold a soccer ball with both hands at the right hip. Without rotating your body, slowly bring the ball up and across until it’s above your left shoulder and slightly behind you. Return to start. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps on each side.