Hate your postpartum belly? You’ll be surprised to learn just how many elements of your day-to-day life can affect the shape of your stomach. Things like stress, not enough sleep, environmental toxins, poor gut health, too little exercise, and hormonal imbalances all play a role in how much excess weight you might be carrying around your waist. The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to get a flatter stomach.
Five tips to get you started:
Watch what you eat: Inflammation in the gut produces insulin resistance, which promotes fat storage – particularly around the stomach area. Eliminating low-grade inflammatory food allergens from your diet such as sugar, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can help to combat obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease. To reduce inflammation in your body and build healthy gut bacteria, switch to more plant-based foods, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates and avoid processed high sugar foods, and excess animal protein.
Get rid of toxins: When your body stores too many toxins, it can’t function properly, and it’ll be near impossible to lose weight, especially around your stomach. Give your liver a break by drinking plenty of water and eating whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruit and veggies, carbohydrates like rice, barley, oats and rye, lean proteins such as chicken, fish or pulses/legumes, healthy fats such as avocado, olives, and nuts. Try to limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and wheat if you think you might be sensitive to gluten. You should also watch your liquid calorie intake – as milky, sugary coffees, and fizzy drinks are major contributors to weight gain.
Control your portions: Simply reducing your portion sizes is one of the quickest ways to control your overall caloric intake and lose weight. A standard serving of cooked meat or chicken is about 80-90 grams, or the size of a deck of cards. A serving of starchy foods like cooked rice and potato should be about half a cup, or the size of half a tennis ball. Fill up on low-calorie, nutritionally dense foods like veggies, and have no more than 2-3 servings of fruit per day as they still contain sugar.
Get active: We all know that exercise is important when you’re trying to lose weight, but the type of exercise you do is also important. Maintaining and losing weight sustainably through exercise requires burning fat and raising your metabolic rate, both of which can be done with a well-rounded fitness programme, and balanced workouts including cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training. Including 1-2 high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts into your weekly schedule, will help with fat loss – especially around your middle. This involves short bursts of intense exercise where you push your heart rate up, followed by short, low-intensity recovery periods. One of the most effective, affordable pieces of exercise equipment are resistance bands. They’re versatile, portable (so you can train anywhere) and they offer the perfect amount of resistance to help you burn fat and tone muscle, especially in your abdominal region.
Get to the core: When it comes to training your abs, it’s wise to start with the basics before you start adding the finishing touches with your surface-level muscles. Focus on losing overall body fat, and work on strengthening your core as a whole, while paying attention to your transverse abdominal muscle – which is the deeper abdominal muscle. Exercises that don’t even target the abs, like weighted squats, push-ups, and deadlifts promote core activation, which is what you’re looking for before you start to worry about the appearance of the superficial surface muscles.