My husband and I have decided we’d like to take our 4-year-old on a beach vacation this summer, and while the prospect of hanging out by the ocean fills me with more excitement than eating Nutella straight out of the jar, I’m more than a little nervous about squeezing my body into a bikini. It just doesn’t seem fair to the other vacationers, you know?
But I refuse to sit on the sidelines buried beneath a muumuu while my husband and daughter make sand castles, so a few weeks ago I decided to get off my duff and DO SOMETHING about my belly fat. And guess what? My hard work is paying off.
And since I want everyone else to enjoy the beautiful weather without being trapped under a layer of clothing this summer, I’ve decided to share my favorite tips that have taught me how to lose belly fat FAST.
1. EAT GRAPEFRUIT BEFORE BREAKFAST
Did you know that grapefruit kickstarts your metabolism, helps you feel full longer, stabilizes your blood sugar levels, and helps in overall weight loss? Neither did I. But after reading this article on POPSUGAR, I started eating half a grapefruit before breakfast and dinner, and I have definitely noticed a difference in my mid-morning and late night snacking. You should give it a try!
2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER
While I’m the first to admit I totally fall down when it comes to drinking 8 glasses of water each day, I notice a HUGE difference when I do. It makes me feel full and decreases the likelihood that I will snack throughout the day, it makes my skin look healthier and brighter, and (more importantly) it makes my tummy look flatter by keeping bloating at bay.
3. STOP EATING SUGAR
Even though I don’t eat a ton of sweets and cakes and pastries, I have an unhealthy love for cereals that are loaded with sugar, and after cutting them out for a week, I noticed a HUGE change around my middle. Of course, I don’t have the willpower to remove sugar from my diet completely, but when I crave something sweet, I make a conscious choice to reach for a couple of squares of dark chocolate instead of pouring myself a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Why? Because dark chocolate has been proven to increase metabolism and control appetite and as a slew of other health benefits, which you can read about RIGHT HERE.
4. CUT BACK ON SODIUM
We all know that eating a high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease (right?), but did you know it can also cause abdominal bloat? I personally avoid sodium as much as possible as I find my body reacts terribly to it, but on the nights my husband convinces me to order sushi for dinner, I drink tons of water to ensure I don’t wake up with a distended tummy. Camomile and peppermint tea also help!
5. EAT MORE PROTEIN
I have always had trouble keeping myself from snacking in between meals, but after incorporating more lean proteins into each of my meals (think: fish, poultry, eggs, and low-fat dairy), I feel fuller and more satisfied for longer periods of time.
6. MUNCH ON POTASSIUM-RICH FOODS
While I knew sodium causes bloating, I had no idea a deficiency in potassium could cause my body to retain water. I now try to incorporate these potassium-rich foods into my diet to maintain the right balance, but I’m careful not to overload my system as too much potassium can be dangerous.
7. EAT SMALLER MEALS MORE FREQUENTLY
While there is a lot of literature out there that debates the benefits of eating meals more frequently for weight loss, I always find that eating smaller portions throughout the day helps prevent bloating. It also helps keep my blood sugar in check so I don’t crave unhealthy snacks in between meals.
8. KEEP BLOATING AND CONSTIPATION IN CHECK
I am extremely prone to bloating and gas, which really sucks, but these simple ways to beat bloating by Women’sDay have really helped me out. For me, it’s about avoiding gas-producing foods like beans and dried fruits, and incorporating as many high-fiber foods into my diet as possible. I find the more regular my bowels are, and the less gas I allow to build up in my gut, the flatter my tummy is!
9. SLEEP MORE
Did you know that lack of sleep can cause weight gain? I didn’t either! But after doing a ton of research online, I discovered that women who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night (me!) are more likely to gain weight because sleep deprivation increases the likelihood that you will snack on unhealthy foods (think: carbs). So rather than reaching for that bag of chips at 9 pm, brush your teeth and hit the sack instead!
10. REDUCE ALCOHOL INTAKE
Given the name of my blog, I guess it’s no surprise that I enjoy a glass of vino at the end of the day, but one thing I have learned over the years is that the more frequently I drink, the harder it is to lose weight. Not only is alcohol loaded with sugar, but it also causes dehydration and bloating, and I find if I have more than a glass, it lowers my inhibitions and makes me much more likely to binge on unhealthy foods. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m going to give up my beloved chardonnay completely, but I try to limit my intake to one glass a few times a week, and I always ensure I load up on water to counteract dehydration and bloating.
11. STOP CHEWING GUM
One of my strategies for keeping myself from snacking is to chew on a piece of gum. This has always worked for me, but after a lot of trial and error, I discovered the act of chewing and swallowing air was one of the main culprits in my gassy, distended tummy. GAH! So now I brush my teeth after every meal instead, and I always keep a small container of mouthwash in my purse for those moments when I need to be conscious of my breath. :)
12. ADD WEIGHT TRAINING TO YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE
I have been eating healthy and running regularly for 2+ years now, and while I am on the slim side, my tummy is anything but flat. This has always annoyed me, but after reading this article on Web MD about the benefits of incorporating weight training into my workout routine to battle belly fat, I decided to make some changes. I’m not disciplined or vain enough for six-pack abs, and I can’t do a stomach crunch to save my life, but I am shocked at what a difference a few weekly sessions of weights has had on my belly.
13. EAT THE RIGHT FOODS
There are heaps of different stomach flattening food lists out there, but this collection of 50 foods to help lose belly fat by Glamour is my favorite!
14. SPACE GAS-PROMOTING FOODS OVER THE COURSE OF THE DAY
I don’t remember where I read this trick, but it has done WONDERS in helping me tolerate things like nuts and raw veggies without suffering from embarrassing gas and a distended stomach.
15. SWITCH TO GREEN TEA
I love my Starbucks coffee in the mornings, but after reading all of the health benefits of green tea in this article by Authority Nutrition, including an increase in metabolic rate and a decrease in belly fat, I’m slowly starting to replace my decaf Americanos with (unsweetened) iced green teas.
And a bonus tip…
16. WORK OUT BEFORE BREAKFAST
I have been running at 5:30 am for 2+ years now, and while my friends and family think I’m crazy to do this, I find I am much less likely to gorge on unhealthy foods after a morning run than I am if I hit the treadmill after dinner. I used to think this was simply a function of how busy I am throughout the day (who has time to snack when you’re racing from activity to activity with a 4-year-old in tow?), but it turns out there’s evidence supporting the fact that exercising before breakfast does not lead to an increase in appetite, and that exercising in a fasted state burns 20 percent more fat. Don’t believe me? Then read this.
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