A slimmer waistline is obtainable in one month.
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Belly fat is not considered attractive, but that is the least important reason why you should lose it. People carrying fat in their belly are at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Exercise is a good place to start, but crunches and planks alone will not get rid of that gut. Exercising, staying hydrated and eating a lean and healthy diet packed with nutrients can all work together to create a leaner, stronger core in as few as 30 days.
Start with a Plan
Crunches are the most popular and least effective ab workout, because they depend so much on form. If you aren't doing them correctly, you're working your hip flexors and shoulders, but nothing in between.
Planks offer the most effective way to tighten your core. Start with basic planks by resting on your elbows and toes with your body held in a straight line. Pull your navel in toward your spine and breathe slowly as you hold the plank for as long as you can. If you've never done planks, start with trying to hold one for at least one minute. Add another minute every few days, until you can easily hold a plank for at least 10 minutes. Once you can do that, add variations such as resting on straight arms. You can also add knee dips, hip dips and side planks.
Working your obliques is necessary for a flatter belly and will also give you a trimmer waist. Do standing crossover toe touches, or lie on your back and alternate bringing your knee and shoulder together in a twisting crunch. Do 12 repetitions, working up to three sets per workout.
Another variation is to lie on your back with your fingers laced lightly behind your neck with your elbows straight out to the sides. Crunch upward and twist your torso to the left and then to the right. Return to your starting position, but do not let your shoulders touch the floor. Keep your abs tight and do 12 repetitions. Work up to three sets of 12 per workout.
Your lower abdomen tends to be the most stubborn about refusing to be flat, because those muscles are the hardest to isolate. Lie on your back and do slow leg raises. Keep your legs straight and raise them to a 45-degree angle as you inhale. Lower your legs almost to the floor, making sure that you're not arching your back as you exhale. Do one set of 12 reps and work up to three sets per session.
Incorporate a 15- to 30-minute walk or other aerobic activity into your daily routine to keep your metabolism up. This can also elevate your mood, which makes it much easier to stick to your one-month plan.
Watch Your Diet
Starting a new way of eating can be easier if you plan ahead. Cut out all refined starches and processed sugars and you may see a big difference in your shape in just a few days. Cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, white bread, pasta and rice all offer a lot of calories made up of starch and sugar with very little nutrition and almost no fiber.
Plan your meals around leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, beans, lean protein, low-fat dairy, nuts and small amounts of good fats such as olive oil. It's not necessary to cut all carbohydrates out of your diet, though doing so for the first three days may help curb sugar cravings.
Choose whole grains such as cracked wheat, oatmeal and quinoa. Buy your bread in the refrigerator or freezer section of your market and choose the most dense, coarse loaf. It's best to avoid pasta because many brands that claim to be whole wheat are made with refined wheat flour.
Certain foods are associated with faster weight loss, so load up your diet with artichokes, avocado, eggs, chickpeas, green tea, kefir, which is a fermented yogurt drink, and peanuts.
Adding color and crunch to your meals helps keep cravings at bay, and a plant-based diet allows a lot of food for relatively few calories, which helps you feel full. Don't take your calorie count any lower than 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,500 to 2,000 calories for men to avoid the metabolism slow-down that is the dieter's worst enemy.
Think Before You Drink
Alcohol not only causes you to retain water, but it's almost pure sugar. If you drink alcohol with a meal, your body will store any alcoholic calories in order to process the ones from your food.
Sodas of all types are generally high in sodium and should be avoided, as should diet sodas.
Instead, make sure that you drink between 32 and 64 ounces of water per day. Supplement that with herbal tea. Avoiding caffeine can help you sleep better. This may help reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which causes you to retain fat around your belly.