Everybody would like a nice flat stomach for the summer and there is a lot of advice available as to the best way to achieve this, however, some is more accurate than others. Here we look at some common flat stomach myths that may be holding you back from achieving your goal.
1. The more crunches you do, the flatter your stomach will be
Crunches and other abdominal exercises can help to strengthen the abdominal muscles; however, they will not result in an instant six pack or even a toned flat stomach, unless you also work towards losing fat.
Most people have some form of stomach muscles, however, for the majority, the layer of fat on the belly is what is stopping those abs from being obvious rather than lack of muscle.
Abdominal exercises are important and a good way to get a strong core, but they will not burn off fat. To reduce belly fat it is a good idea to combine abdominal exercises with cardio workouts that burn calories and a reduced calorie diet.
To lose fat you need to be burning more calories than you are consuming, so by increasing exercise and decreasing intake slightly you, whilst still doing resistance training and core workouts to maintain muscle, you have the best chance of burning off that belly fat.
2. Starvation is the best way to get a flat stomach
Many people believe that in order to have a completely flat stomach they need to drastically reduce their food intake. Whilst this may be effective in reducing fat, it is also incredibly unhealthy for the body and is likely to be unsustainable in the long term.
Most very low calorie or starvation diets may promote weight loss in the first place, however, they will also slow down your metabolism, meaning that if you start to eat more normally again you are likely to regain the weight and probably a little extra.
Very low calorie diets generally do not provide you with the necessary nutrients that your body needs to survive and carry out normal processes. They can also impact on your energy levels and leave you too tired and lacking in energy to carry out normal day to day activities, let alone working out.
A reduction in calories may be a good way to reduce your body fat in combination with exercise, but there is no need to take it to extremes doing so is likely to end up doing more harm than good.
See also: What to eat for a flat stomach
3. Carbs are the enemy
It is commonly believed that carbohydrates should be eliminated from the diet to achieve a flat stomach. Unless you have an intolerance to certain types of carbohydrate such as wheat or gluten however, there is no need to eliminate them from your diet completely.
The important thing is to choose the right type of carbohydrates. Wholegrain carbs that are low GI are the best option, and the extra fiber content of these types of food can also keep the bowels healthy and prevent bloating if sufficient water is also drunk. It is wise to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar as these tend to be easy to overeat.
4. Diet pills will give you the flat stomach you want
Many commercially available diet pills promise a flat stomach in a short time period; however, in general these are a waste of money and will not give you the results you want. Unfortunately when it comes to weight loss and getting a flat stomach, you have to put in the work to get the results.
A healthy diet and increasing your exercise are the best ways to achieve results and are a lot cheaper than diet pills that don’t deliver.
5. Low fat and fat free foods are the way to go
When trying to achieve a flat stomach, many people turn to low and no fat products in the belief that this will reduce their calories and help them achieve their goal. Unfortunately, low or no fat, does not always equate to low calories, as these products often have high levels of added sugar to improve taste, meaning their calorie content may in fact be higher than full fat products.
In addition to this, evidence is now suggesting that a moderate amount of good fat in our diet, such as the unsaturated fats found in olive oil and nuts is not only better for health, but may be beneficial for weight loss.
So including a little healthy fat in your diet may in fact help in your quest for a flat stomach, as long as your overall calorie intake is lower.
References used in this article