tips to have a flat belly

If you are like me (someone who has been struggling with belly fat) you know how hard it is to keep a flat belly once it's finally flat. Here are a few tips to keep that flat belly.

1. Have a little drink

We all heard the 'alcohol is bad for health' bla bla but a little presence of alcohol in the body will slow fat burning and keep you full for longer. The liver processes alcohol before other carbs and protein, so a few ounces of wine won't be too harmful. Also the feeling of fullness will help you space out the time between two meals.

2. Take time to chill out

When we are anxious or stressed, our body produces the cortisol hormone. This hormone encourages the body to store fat, mainly in the abdominal region. So, it's good to take a little time for yourself everyday. Switch off for some minutes at every few hours interval everyday. Go to a quiet place, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. You will feel refreshed afterwards.

3. Don't forget your cardio

To keep the fat buildup at bay, it's important to include cardio exercises in your routine. Build muscles and your metabolism will work faster too and thus you'll burn more calories during the day. It is not necessary to do cardio everyday but if you can spare 30 minutes 3-4 times per week, your body will thank you. If you don't usually workout at all, start slow and go at your own pace.

4. Eat whole foods

You will put on less weight if you eat whole foods, and thus less buildup around the midsection. Start eating whole grains (wheat, oats, brown rice) and you will notice a considerable difference in your weight. Processed and refined foods taste and look better but not always good for our body.

5. Have good nights sleep

Lack of sleep will slow your metabolism. Sleep deprivation will not only make you grumpy but you will start having subcutaneous fat cells (that is right below your skin). This type of fat is not easy to burn. One thing you can do is try to sleep a few minutes earlier than you usually do everyday, till you reach a normal 8 hours night sleep.

6. Watch out for sugar

You have probably already come across a few articles that link sugar intake to weight gain. The average sugar intake of an average individual not following any diet is up to 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. Sugar is found in processed foods and even 'healthy' ones such as yogurt and everyday sauces. This daily intake of sugar equals to about 300-400 calories which will slow down your metabolism as insulin increases with sugar. Read labels well before you buy any processed food.

7. Enjoy light dinners

Don't overfill your belly for dinner. It is best to eat only proteins and leafy greens to avoid a food baby. Large dinners will hold on water, you'll often wake up feeling tired after a big dinner the previous night because your body spend more energy to burn down the calories. Avoid desserts and night time snacks too especially on days leading to your beach weekend.

8. Keep track of everything

Keep a journal of your food intake to know what foods are triggering your belly to bloat. You will also be able to keep an eye on what food you should avoid when you'll review your diary of any food related 'accident'. Note down your feeling after each meal. Are you feeling gassy, overfull? Or any kind of pain after eating certain food.

9. Avoid fatty foods

We all like those fried foods, chips, or any other deep fried items full of fat but these should be only once in a while treats. The fat in fried foods are digested slowly and very often leave us feeling full and puffy. And the fat will end up accumulating in the belly (again). If you are planning out at the beach, better stay away from those fried foods.

10. Do some abs workout

Small abs exercises can be done anytime and anywhere. We sometimes find it hard to exercise daily or make time for it. But some exercises can be done at anytime. Hold in your stomach and take in a few deep breaths when sting for example, this will help tighten the abs muscles. No more excuses.

11. Laugh, laugh and laugh

Laughing equals happiness and happiness reflects on your health. Laughing does more, it causes abs to contract. What can you ask more? That's free exercise for the abs. Have a good laugh at any moment and don't moderate yourself.

12. Always push yourself

Always give yourself a little push more every other day when you are working out. I know this is better said than done, as I find myself slacking with my daily exercises. But if we do a little bit more every day, belly fat will not have time to settle down. I don't know if you like planks, it's one of the best whole body workout. Try to include at least a minute of it every time you exercise.

13. Take a little less salt

It's a fact that we need sodium in our body to keep going but we don't necessarily need too much of it. Sodium or salt as we call it, can lead to fluid retention in the gut if we include a lot of it in our daily diet. And of course, fluid retention will lead to bloating... you don't want that. To make sure you are able to control your salt intake as much as possible, it's best to prepare your meals at home and avoid processed and fast food. It will not be easy to really control the amount of milligrams of sodium you are taking daily but the less the better.

14. You don't need diet foods

This is something you should do right now. Studies have shown that products that are sold as 'diet' are actually more harmful to our body than regular products. A lot of the sugar replacements such as sorbitol and mannitol are used in diet products. They are known to produce a lot of gas in the intestines which will make you balloon and leave you with a bloated feeling.

15. Know more about carbs

We know that we should take in less carbs if we want to have a flat belly. Carbohydrates needs water to metabolize, too much fluid will make you feel bloated. It's not necessary to ban carbs from your diet, well I know I can't (I love pizza too much!). Try to keep a low carbohydrate intake and opt for complex, starchy and fiber-filled ones like legumes, sweet potatoes, oats and brown rice. These will digest slowly and thus eating less during the day. Try to limit your daily carbs intake to 200 grams. Or you can also try carb blockers.