What are the best non-diet and non-exercise options for flattening your stomach?

While hormones, genetics, and other factors all play a role in achieving a flatter stomach, flat belly meals aren’t always one of them. However, if your objective is to improve your general health, a few simple changes can help you reduce bloating and establish long-term healthy habits without resorting to extreme (and dangerous) dieting.

The easiest place to start, and will lead to the most overall benefits, is to slowly increase your daily fiber intake.

Adding too much too quickly can have the opposite effect. Try adding more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains for example. Choose high fiber cereal or oats for breakfast, make your daily snacks fruit and veggie based with carrots and hummus or apple with nut butter.

Try adding chia seeds, avocado and frozen raspberries into your smoothie to increase your fiber, daily vitamin and mineral intake.

Go to bed earlier.

Getting under the covers a little sooner doesn’t just help you avoid late-night snacking. Missing out on a full night’s rest slows down your body’s metabolism, it can also lead to elevated cortisol levels which can encourage your body to store more fat. If you want to increase your calorie burn, and keep cortisol levels in check, aim for 7-8 hours of shut-eye per night.

Don’t skip meals.

Another metabolism-boosting tip: Eat every three to four hours, and that should include making time for breakfast. Research shows that people who miss a morning meal experience a surge in a hunger-related hormone later in the day. Regular snacks (which should include fiber-filled complex carbs and protein!) will keep you feeling full and your body burning cals at a steady rate.

Perfect your posture.

Straighten up and your figure look better right away, advises The Biggest Loser trainer Kim Lyons. “When your posture is good, you’re automatically engaging and toning your stomach muscles,” she says. If you need to remind yourself to stand tall, a few strategically placed sticky notes should do the trick.

Sip more water.

Keep those fluids coming! Being dehydrated causes the body to hoard water leading you to carry up to four excess pounds around your midsection. Aim for at least eight cups of water or other fluids daily.

Eat more H2O

Yes, you read that right. High-water foods like fruits and veggies will fill you up faster. Try incorporating more salads and greens that have a high-water content like cucumber, celery and zucchini. An easy pre-dinner app of sliced crudité and spicy hummus is a healthy choice. The combo of capsaicin (a spice in hot peppers) and the chickpeas’ soluble fiber can help curb hunger.

Brew some coffee.

Caffeine in coffee can help with de bloating because it is a natural (mild) diuretic, which assist your body get rid of excess water. It is also a stimulant and can get your bowels moving which can lead to a flatter belly.

Snack on nuts.

Research has linked eating nuts with having a lower waist circumference. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, making them a more satisfying pick than pretzels. Make sure you stick to the unsalted versions to stave off sodium-induced puff, and keep in mind one serving is about a small handful.

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