Struggling to get your jeans done up? We’ve all been there. Surveys show that the body part people are most commonly unhappy about when they want to lose weight is their stomach. It can be frustrating doing sit ups and crunches day and night and still being unable to shift that stomach flab. But research shows that what you eat is just as important for a flat stomach as how much you work out. So don’t throw away your favourite low-rise jeans just yet. Here are some of the best changes you can make to your diet plan to get the flat belly you want…
Eat more fibre
A lack of fibre is a major cause of tummy flab. It is suggested that you should be eating at least 25 grams of fibre every day. You can find fibre in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. There are several reasons why eating foods high in fibre can help support your weight loss efforts. Firstly, it makes you feel more full. High-fibre foods like fruits and vegetables add bulk and volume to your meals without adding on lots of calories, so you end up eating less and feeling more satisfied. The other benefit is the high-fibre foods tend to require more chewing, and therefore take longer to eat. Slowing down your eating means you will feel fuller on less and get the most out of the calories you are consuming.
Eat healthy carbs
It’s true that you should try to reduce carbs when trying to lose weight, but adopting an ‘all carbs are the enemy’ mindset isn’t the way to go. To get a flatter stomach, your daily carb intake should be 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie plan. Eating too few carbs can cause water retention, bloating and temporary weight gain that will show in your stomach. Too many carbs can cause you to store excess water, which again leads to bloating and temporary weight gain. So balance is the key here. Avoid ‘empty calorie’ foods like lollies, sweet biscuits and fast foods. Try to get most of your carbs from fruits and vegetables, which are least likely to cause bloating, because of their high water content, and give you plenty of other nutrients as well.
Drink plenty of water
You might think drinking lots of water will make you bloat, but in fact it helps you to flush sodium out of the body, in effect reducing bloating. Try to aim for at least 8 glasses of water each day. Replace soft drinks and other sugary beverages with water and you’ll find it easy to get in your daily intake. Keeping well hydrated also means you are less likely to feel hungry, as thirst can often be mistaken for hunger and cause you to crave sugary snacks.
Reduce your salt intake
Sodium is one of the biggest culprits of bloating. Although we need small amounts of sodium to regulate blood pressure, nerve transmissions and other essential bodily functions, too much will cause water retention. Nutritionists say that we only need around 500 milligrams of sodium each day- but most of us will usually consume around six times that amount. While it’s probably unlikely that you’ll be able to cut down to the essential 500 milligrams, it’s recommended that you try not to go over 2,400 milligrams each day. Cut back on processed or fast foods and choose fresh, natural foods wherever possible. Read food labels carefully- packaged soups in particular, while low in calories, are often very high in salt.
Eat less at night
Don’t take it to extremes- the ‘no food after 6 pm’ rule is unfounded and is actually more likely to cause you to crave sugary foods. But trying to reduce the amount of food we eat in the evenings can help to eliminate bloating the next morning. Studies have shown that people who eat their largest meal at night tend to have slower metabolisms than those who eat more food earlier in the day. So if you have a light, healthy dinner and try to avoid snacking late into the night, you will wake up with a flatter belly and a better appetite for a fibre-rich breakfast. A good guideline is to try to eat two-thirds of your daily calories before dinner. You need more calories when you are active, not when your body is slowing down, so start the day with a good breakfast and go from there.
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