Everyone wants a flat belly, but does it mean having to do hours and hours of abdominal crunches? “No,” says award-winning bodybuilder Joe DiAngelo, who uses his expertise to help his clients transform their bodies.
“What you eat is the key. If your stomach looks flabby or bloated, that’s usually a sign of bad nutrition,” says DiAngelo, a personal trainer and fitness author. “This doesn’t mean that exercise isn’t important, but it isn’t the whole answer.”
Here are his top 10 flat-belly tricks:
1. Eat low-carb.
“Carbohydrates hold water, so they make you bloated. It’s easy to eat 1,000 grams or more of carbohydrates over a weekend. Just pizza, a few drinks, and a dessert will to it. Then those excess carbs can turn into four or five pounds by Monday morning,” says DiAngelo.
2. Cut Out Wheat.
Gluten, a protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, and barley also leads to bloat. This is especially true for people with celiac disease, or the much larger population that has gluten sensitivity. “But I find that almost everyone who cuts out gluten will have a flatter stomach,” DiAngelo says.
3. Eat less dairy.
“I work with a lot of professional bodybuilders and fitness models and they usually don’t eat dairy products. Instead, DiAngelo recommends products made with almond milk.
4. Avoid soy.
Most people think of soy as a health food, but not DiAngelo, who notes that soy contains a compound that mimics estrogen, which can lead to weight gain and stomach bloat.
5. Don’t drink soda – not even diet.
Obviously, carbonated beverages, known for their bubbles, are gassy and bloating, but that’s not the only problem. Soda usually contains high fructose corn syrup, which is strongly linked with obesity. Diet soda isn’t a good substitute because artificial sweeteners can be difficult to digest and can boost appetite. If you do use a sweetener, try stevia, a natural product.
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6. Drink lemon water.
Whether you’re switching from soda, or you ordinarily drink water, add a squeeze of lemon. “Lemon aids in digestion and is a natural diuretic, so it rids you of water weight,” says DiAngelo. “If you eat a burger with fries, drink lemon water with it to cut the fat.”
7. Do plank exercises.
If you’re looking for an effective core-strengthener that can help give you a flat belly, the plank is an excellent exercise. Start on the floor face down, resting on your forearms and toes. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. Your head should be relaxed and you should be looking at the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds to start. Over time, work up to a full minute.
8. Do leg raises.
“Everybody does leg raises, but what makes them flatten bellies is the way you do them,” said DiAngelo. He suggests that you not only do your leg raises slowly on the way up, but also slow their motion on the way down. “By slowing down the motion, you’ll engage the muscle more and get a better result,” he says.
9. Do sit-ups the right way
. Sit-ups are the classic exercise for a flat belly, and they work, but you have to make sure you have the right form. Don’t tilt up your chin as you do them. “Control the motion, do them slowly, and make sure you’re focusing on your abdominals,” DiAngelo says.
10. Change is good.
Don’t do the same core exercises every time you work out. DiAngelo says: “Once your body becomes accustomed to a movement, your workout becomes less effective.”
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