Diet and exercise do their part, but these easy, low-key moves will also minimıse your middle.
UNSWEETEN YOUR SIPS
Over a six-year period, people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages daily gained 27 per cent more ab fat than non-drinkers, a study in the journal Circulation found. Soft drinks, sweetened juices, coffee drinks and smoothies are all culprits. If water won’t cut it, be choosy. Nix soft drinks altogether. Instead of syrups and whipped cream, dress up your coffee with unsweetened almond or coconut milk, says dietitian Robin Foroutan, the spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the US. “When you grab a juice, vegetable juice – but not beet or carrot – is better than fruit juice for limiting sugar.” And don’t forget about tea: “Several studies have shown that a compound in green tea increases metabolism,” Robin says. Research in The Journal of Nutrition also found that compounds in green, black and oolong tea led to ab-fat loss in mice.
GET IN A MINI-MEDITATION
Too much constant stress causes your body to release cortisol, a hormone that fast-tracks fat deposits deep in the abdomen.
On the flip side, a study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that mindful people were 25 per cent less likely to be obese and had a ½kg less ab fat than their not-so-Zen counterparts. To zap tension instantly, try this easy meditation from personal trainer Kirsten Beverley-Waters, the owner of Thryve, an online fitness, yoga and wellness company: “Close your eyes, place your hands on your belly, and focus all your thoughts on your core as the foundation of your energy and strength. Breathe deeply through your nose for up to five minutes [more if you have time].”
STRETCH YOUR MIDDLE
Spend a few minutes extending your back over a stability ball or doing spinal twists on the floor. “Stretching your abs can improve your core workouts by improving your range of motion,” says biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA. That means more cinching from each rep!
GO VEGGIE FOR DINNER
Having your biggest meal of the day at lunch and going smaller for dinner – try a broth-based soup and a big side of veggies – is helpful for weight loss, Robin says. A study in Diabetic Medicine found that type-2 diabetics who ate a vegetarian diet (combined with moderate aerobic exercise three times per week) lost more dangerous visceral belly fat and body weight than those who ate a conventional lower carb diabetic diet. Also, other research suggests that shifting your calories towards the beginning of the day instead of the end helps the body burn more fat overall.
POWER DOWN BEFORE BED
We know that a lack of sleep leads to weight gain: A six-year study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who got less than six hours of sleep a night gained more than double the fat – some of that ab fat – than those who went from sleeping too little to getting seven to eight hours per night. To snooze faster and better, turn off visual stimulation an hour before bed, ban pets from the mattress, and keep the air at 16 to 20 deg C.