Want a flat stomach? Here our are 10 tips to achieve just that…
Water makes up 60% of our body weight. It is vital to bodily function and survival and is the body’s most important nutrient. Start the day with a glass of warm water and fresh lemon juice to kick start the metabolism, flush out toxins and start to alkalise the system. This equation helps us work out how much water to drink/ day under non exercising conditions (0.033 x BW kg). It is also advisable to drink 15min before a meal, and not during, to aid digestion further and provided a sense of fullness. Add a sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt to your water to aid absorption and boost mineral balance.
Quite simply, when you sort out your digestion, a flat stomach will follow. However with regard to nutrition and weight loss there is still alot we can do :- we can start with eating smaller portions or maybe try eating 4-5 small meals a day to aid metabolism, avoiding processed foods, lowering our daily sugar intake (both added and natural sources i.e fruit), avoiding canned drinks, juices and limiting alcohol, increasing the volume of salad and veg (2-3 meals /day minimum). Planning and preparation are essential in maintaining a good nutritional diet. All in moderation !
3. Assist digestion
Good digestion is the key to health, vitality and stable weight. Chew food thoroughly, don’t multi task whilst eating, take some broad spectrum probiotics and nuture your microbiome, start the day with lemon juice and warm water or apple cider vinegar, supplement with liver tonics such as psylium or milk thistle, monitor your toilet habits (try raising your knees to assist in bowel emptying), eat the correct food for your phenotype; a one size fits all diet doesn’t apply, be aware of how you FEEL when you eat certain food stuffs, stick to as many ‘live’ foods as possible.
4. Improve the quality of your Sleep
It is very important that we get enough sleep. It is during this time that we have our prime period of growth and repair for the body. Without such repair our sessions in the gym will be to no avail. Current research still outlines that we need a good 7-8 hrs of sleep a night. Not only the amount, but when we get it is also of importance. In an ideal situation we will sleep and wake as th
e sun sets and rises. Due to modern lighting, late night TV and evening computer work however, we can stay up way past sun set and therefore cause some disruption to our natural circadian rhythms. If our bodies are subject to consistent late nights and disrupted sleep patterns we will head into a perceived mode of stress with its resulting chronic release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is linked to storage of fat (energy) for times when the body perceives we are in danger. Lack of sleep also leads us to grab for the stimulants (coffee, coke, energy drinks) and we make poor choices in food, often binge or comfort eating. This again leads to a stress response and subsequent elevated levels of stress hormones in the body. This will ultimately lead to elevated insulin and lypogenic (fat liking) enzyme levels, and a reduction in lypolytic enzymes (fat reducing). This chronic response to cortisol and resulting insulin insensitivity leads to fat storage around the stomach area
5. Reduce daily Stress
Stress is a common feature in modern day life. Our early ancestors were concerned with the stress of basic survival: food, shelter, procreation. We are faced with the same concerns plus the added stress of work, finances, technology, complex relationships and social structures. This is added to the stress from our modern environment and the toxins that we encounter on a daily basis, not to mentioned the stress that exercise and training exerts upon the body. If we are unable to control and balance our exposure to stress we are subject to a chronic release of stress hormones as the body remains in a fight or flight state. As mentioned above this leads to a change in how we utilise sugar(available energy) and we tend to store energy as fat around the middle area. It is this abdominal storage and is relevance to many medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes that makes the hip waist ratio measurement so important.
6. Activate the core system
Strengthen from within. You could be the king of sit ups, but if abdominal recruitment isn’t initiated with a strong deep abdominal layer, you will get a bulging /doming tummy that is the opposite of flat! Timing and correct recruitment is everything when looking at abdominal work. Remember sit ups and 5 minute planks are not the pinnacle core training. The abdominals like to be stretched and twisted and work in all directions. Deep stabilising core activation is about timing and endurance and providing a mobile and stable base for the global muscles to move from. True core activation is quite subtle but powerful.
7. Stomach massage
Gentle massage in a clockwise direction can assist in reducing bloating, help to mobilise trapped gas, and assist in peristalsis (natural motility of the gut) moving sluggish food pellets through the large intestines for elimination. Start on the left side of the gut first working in a downwards motion then move over to the right. Imagine moving food pellets along the length of your colon.
8. Posture correction
The quickest way to flatten the stomach and gives the appearance of weight loss is to stand up properly! Correct posture and alignment gives the semblance of a flatter stomach within seconds. We generally fall into one of 3 postural categories: lordotic, kyphotic, sway back. Correcting this deviation back towards a plumb line neutral will not only change your overall view, and even height, but also assist in better breathing patterns and all of the many benefits associated with that. A postural assessment can be undertaken with an allied health professional or personal trainer. As an exercise modality, Pilates addresses both posture and breathing techniques within all of its exercises.
9. Get active!
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you move! Whether you drip feed mobility drills into your day, attend yoga or pilates sessions or drive hard with HIIT ensure you feed your body some movement on a regular basis. Mix up some anabolic and catabolic style exercise forms focusing on mobility, strength and cardio. Exercises helps to improve posture, control hormones, appetite, mood and sleep! Its a win win for that flat stomach . Have a plan A and plan B in mind for those busy weeks / holidays or wet weather interventions. Remember a slow mindful session of yin yoga is as powerful for the body as a weight lifting session or run (if not more so!)
As mentioned in point 8 breathing is of paramount importance to our health, wellbeing and even the shape of our profile. We want to be aiming for relaxed diaphragmatic breathing, getting movement from the belly and low ribs. This breathing style, supports our rest and digest system (parasympathetic)Gripping, massage from the diaphragm on organs, gripping forces upper leads to fight or flight, gives double tummy appearance.
To get advise on any of the topics above or for a postural and core assessment please contact pro-align on www.pro-align.com.au.
Written by Sally Harrison
Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer, Health & Lifestyle Coach.