It seems losing the flab and getting a flat stomach is on everyone’s want list and a goal for New Year’s resolutions. However, sometimes getting a flat stomach can seem elusive even when you think you’re doing all the right things.
While everyone’s genetics and weight loss can vary, there are some common tips that can help anyone reach the goal for flatter abs.
#1 – Bump up the intensity and variety of your cardio
A common misconception for getting flat abs is that you just need to do more crunches. In reality, stomach exercises, like crunches, do little to get rid of extra fat around the midsection. Strengthening exercises are important to build up core muscles, but you need to incorporate other exercises to help your body get rid of extra fat around your mid-section.
Cardio, or aerobic, exercise is important to keep as part of your exercise routine for getting flat abs. Cardio exercise within a moderate intensity primarily uses fat as a fuel. Higher intensity exercise, like sprints, use primarily carbohydrates.
Both moderate and high intensity cardio exercise are beneficial for getting rid of fat mass. Incorporate some days with moderate intensity and other days doing higher intensity intervals. Don’t only do one or the other; both types of exercise are important for getting flat abs.
#2 – Do more than sit ups
As mentioned, getting flat abs requires more than doing some sit ups. In addition to cardio exercise routine that involves moderate and high intensity workouts, add strengthening exercises that target your mid-section in a variety of ways.
There are many different types and layers of muscles in your abdominal region. Doing only sit ups strengthens some muscles in the core, but not all. Talk with an exercise professional for various exercises you can do to strengthen your core in different ways. Examples include planks, wood chop, leg lifts, etc. See also: How to get 6 pack abs without equipment.
Another important aspect of doing more than sit ups is involving your core muscles in other exercises. Your core should be involved in strengthening exercises for your legs, arms or back, but in the typical Western society we get used to not using our core muscles for other movements in the body. This may take some time to re-train your core muscles to engage as stabilizing muscles in a variety of ways.
#3 – Increase fiber
Your abs can look distended by more than just not having in shape ab muscles. If you are constipated or have excess waste build up in your colon that won’t help your abs look flat. To help keep you regular and to lower the risk of excess build up in your colon, increase your fiber intake.
University of California San Francisco Medical Center suggests most adults should intake about 25-30 grams of fiber per day. However, the average adult usually only gets about 15 grams per day. You can increase your fiber intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
See also: What to eat for a flat stomach
#4 – Drink more water
Another reason your stomach may seem distended because of constipation is because you are not drinking enough water. If you increase your fiber intake, it is important to increase your fluid intake as well. Increasing both can help food to move easily through the digestive tract and not make you feel or look bloated.
You can gauge your hydration status easily by assessing your urine color throughout the day. If it is yellow or darker, you probably need to drink more water to be hydrated. You should aim to have pale yellow to clear urine for the majority of the day.
#5 – Watch your sodium intake
One of sodium’s functions in the body is to control movement of fluids. Some people are sensitive to sodium levels, and eating too much sodium can make some people feel bloated in the stomach because the excess sodium is pulling extra water into your midsection.
A typical Western diet is very high in sodium, in fact most people get about twice the recommended level of sodium per day because packaged food is high in sodium. If you are trying to get flat abs, watching your sodium intake can help lower bloating in your midsection.
The recommendation for sodium per day is 2300, but it is easy to get over 4000mg per day. Reading food labels, cooking your own meals and avoiding adding too much salt when cooking are easy ways to help lower excess salt intake.
#6 – Use your core throughout the day
Besides doing intentional cardio and strengthening exercises, another tip to help you get flat abs is to engage your core muscles throughout the day. If you sit a lot during the day, your core muscles can easily get deconditioned from having to work.
Remind yourself to sit with correct posture to engage your core throughout the day, and use your core muscles when you are lifting, walking or doing other movement. It may seem hard at first, but your muscles should adapt to being engaged.
References used in this article