How to get a flat stomach? There is tons of information out in books and on the web about how to get a flat stomach, but if it were all true and the people reading this information applied it on a day-to-day basis, it’s fair to assume that more people would have the flat stomach that they desire. Why isn’t that happening? Two factors are at work here. One is that there are many myths about how to get a flat stomach that just are not true. The second is that regardless of the exercises and workout routines that people are doing, their dietary habits are sabotaging their efforts.

COMMON MYTHS

Myth #1: To get a flat stomach, I need to do hundreds of crunches a day.

Truth: Crunches do not make your stomach flat. Resistance exercises are made to make muscles stronger or bigger, NOT to flatten them out. Additionally, if you can do hundreds of crunches in a row, you are not challenging your muscles that much. If you could do a hundred bicep curls in a row, you wouldn’t try to do more and more; you would use heavier weight and increase the challenge for the muscle. The same is true for abdominal exercises. If you can do more than 20 or 30 reps, you need to find a way to make them more challenging, but do not expect these exercises to flatten out your stomach.

Myth #2: To get a flat stomach, I need to cut out all carbs from my diet.

Truth: Carbohydrates actually keep the body from using protein and muscle tissue for fuel and are therefore needed in your daily diet. However, some carbs are beneficial to the body and others will increase your likelihood of storing more fat. It is important to cut out sugar, refined foods and grain products (bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, cereal, etc.), artificial sweeteners, and other sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, fruit juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.).

Myth #3: To get a flat stomach, I need to do hours of cardio each day.

Truth: Depending on your body type, doing hours of cardio may actually ENCOURAGE fat storage, rather than decrease it. Resistance training (weight lifting) is important, as building lean body tissue will increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories, which is essential to getting a flatter stomach.

NUTRITIONAL INTAKE

The quickest way to flatten out your stomach is to change your nutrition plan. Most, if not all, of the foods you consume, should consist of fresh, whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and lean protein sources. Processed foods, especially those that contain sugar, will confuse your body and trick it into gaining weight. According to Dr. Mercola, sugar “turns off your body’s appetite-control system” and “rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity.” When you eat processed sugar and refined food, your body does not suppress the release of ghrelin (the hormone that makes you hungry) and does not stimulate the release of leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full). This all leads to you eating more and more and gaining weight, especially in your midsection.

Consuming a diet of fresh, whole foods appropriately stimulates the release of the hormones insulin and leptin so that you feel full and are not driven to eat more food. Fresh fruit, when consumed in moderation, does not have a negative effect on your hormone or hunger levels. Dr. Mercola, however, does caution that even sugar from fruit should be consumed in moderation and that people should limit their intake of fructose to 25 grams a day.

CALORIC INTAKE

Even with a fresh, whole food diet, you will not get a flat stomach unless you are in a caloric deficit. This means that you must burn more calories than you consume each day. You can track your food intake in an online food journal and measure your caloric expenditure with a device such as the Exerspy to ensure that you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. To lose one to two pounds of fat per week, you want to be in a deficit of 500 to 1000 calories per day. It is not ideal to be in a deficit higher than that, as very low calorie diets can lower metabolic rates.

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