Losing belly fat is by far one of the biggest obstacles that you’ll run into during a weight loss program. A common misconception is that in order to get a flat belly, you must perform hours of abdominal exercises each week. On the contrary, earning a flat belly has little to do with exercise, and everything to do with proper nutrition. Learning how to eat for flat abs is pivotal to shedding your excess belly fat for good!
This is not to say that exercise isn’t an integral part of weight loss. Core routines are great for shaping and firming the abdominal muscles so that when you lose belly fat, you’ll have some killer abs to show off. Consistent cardiovascular exercise will help you shed extra fat from all over your body! Combining core training, cardiovascular exercise, and healthy-eating will speed up your progress tremendously.
Some of these guidelines for how to eat for flat abs may already be familiar to you, while others may be completely new! It’s important to note that none of these tips should be thought of as temporary solutions. You should focus on applying them to your daily routine from here on out. Maintaining a slim belly and flat abs takes consistency and effort.
How to Eat for Flat Abs
1. Decrease Calorie Intake Slightly
Weight loss is actually quite simple, mathematically speaking. If you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning, you’ll gain weight. If you’re eating the same amount of calories that you’re using in a day, your weight will stay the same. In order to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than you’re burning.
Many people make the mistake of cutting too many calories out of their diet each day. Decreasing your calorie intake too much will cause your metabolism to crash. You can keep your metabolism burning, simply by decreasing your daily intake by 200-300 calories each day. This is a prime example of why exercise is a great addition to a healthy diet. You can burn another 200-300 calories through exercise, which will safely double your fat loss each week.
2. Focus on your Food
One of the biggest mistakes that we make these days is eating our meals while watching television or surfing the web. Distracted eating is directly related to overeating. Emotional eating is another real issue. We crave certain (usually unhealthy) foods when we’re sad, angry, and even when we’re happy. Get rid of the distractions and practice mindful eating. Focus on your meals, pay attention to feeling full instead of just finishing the food on your plate, and exert those emotions at the gym instead of in the kitchen!
3. Keep Chewing!
This is one of those tips that probably has you raising your eyebrow. The truth is, most of us don’t chew our food well enough. You should be chewing your food until it’s the consistency of applesauce. Digestion begins in the mouth, so the better you chew your food, the less time your stomach has to spend processing it. This will lead to less gas, less bloating, and a flatter belly!
4. Decrease (or Eliminate) Sugar Intake
Aside from the obvious, “sugar is void of nutrients and full of calories,” decreasing or eliminating sugar will cause insulin levels to drop. Obviously, if you’re a diabetic you’ll want to speak with your doctor about sugar intake, but for the average person, decreasing sugar is a great way to lose weight. When insulin drops, a hormone called glucagon increases. This hormone is a natural, fat-fighter!
Keep in mind that there is hidden, added-sugar in practically every pre-packaged food these days. It’s important to always check the nutrition labels!
5. Choose Fresh Foods
This next tip is probably one of the most obvious in terms of eating for flat abs. Fresh, unprocessed foods are packed full of nutrients and are usually lower in calories. Eating fresh fruits, veggies, and lean meats will help your body to shed excess pounds from all over.
Refined grains and sugars cause our bodies (and our bellies) to become inflamed. Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with anti-inflammatory properties that will allow us to feel and look slimmer.
6. Eat More Soluble Fiber and Protein
Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, absorbs more water and slows the passing of food in your digestive tract. This is beneficial in the fact that it will keep you feeling fuller, for longer, thus helping you eat less calories throughout the day. Studies have shown that simply adding in 10 extra grams of soluble fiber per day can decrease the amount of calories that your body is able to absorb and slow the accumulation of visceral fat.
This tip would be incomplete if we didn’t mention protein, as well. A general rule of thumb is to get 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight, each day. For instance, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should aim for 120 grams of protein in a day. The best way to do this is to split it up between meals. If you eat 6 meals a day, try to get 20 grams of protein in each meal.
Protein is an essential part of weight loss because it boosts your metabolism, reduces your appetite and aids in fat loss (especially belly fat). If you have a hard time getting enough protein, consider trying one of these 20 Must-Try Protein Shake Recipes or incorporate these 15 High-Protein Foods into your diet.
7. Practice Portion Control
Remember the mantra: calories in, calories out. Portion control is non-negotiable when it comes to losing weight. Focus on protein first, healthy fats second, and carbohydrates last. Decreasing your carbohydrate intake, and increasing fat intake has been scientifically proven to decrease belly fat. Learning proper portion control will help you to get the right amounts of each.
8. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria that play a significant role in gut health and weight management. You can get them in supplement form or try incorporating a few of the Top 10 Probiotic-Rich Foods for Gut Health. Your belly will thank you!
9. Drink Plenty of Water
Water is a vital element to health and weight loss. We literally need it to survive, yet most of us don’t drink enough of it! Aim for 64 oz. a day, minimum. Staying hydrated will boost your metabolism, help you eat less, and even reduce belly-bloat. Try drinking a full glass of water right after waking and a glass before each meal. When your body is hydrated, it won’t be afraid to let go of excess water, promoting a slimmer figure.
10. Avoid Swallowing Air and Gases
We’re not telling you to hold your breath, we’re just telling you to lay off the carbonated beverages and chewing gum. These two things are common factors contributing to belly-bloat. Eliminating them will allow your stomach to look and feel flatter. You may also want to avoid using straws and talking while eating as these two things can also cause you to swallow extra air.