If you look at the models in fitness magazines and covet their flat, toned stomachs, you're not alone. Lots of women wish they had a flat stomach, and many of them consider surgical procedures to achieve this dream. But for many women, a flat stomach is possible with exercise and proper eating.
Reducing your sugar intake and increasing your fiber intake can help reduce your belly fat. According to Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite of the Rush University Prevention Center, sugar encourages fat to accumulate around the belly, while fiber discourages it. Avoid sugary drinks and even fruit juice, which contains the sugar from fruit without the beneficial fiber. Instead, drink water and eat whole fruits that contain fiber. Kazlauskaite recommends starting each meal with a large serving of vegetables to fill you up and to provide you with the fiber you need.
Crunches are often associated with a toned, flat stomach, but they won't guarantee it. Crunches can help strengthen your stomach and give you that toned look, but only if you reduce the fat in that area. If you don't shed your belly fat, your rock-hard abs will be hidden underneath a layer of pudge. Crunches aren't great calorie burners, so you'll have to do more aerobic exercise to achieve a flat stomach.
Regular cardiovascular exercise is the key to burning excess belly fat -- or any fat for that matter. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, like jogging, per week. You can break this exercise up across the week however you want, but each workout should be at least 10 minutes long. For instance, you might work out for 50 minutes, three times a week or for 25 minutes, six times a week.
Some people, no matter how hard they workout and how carefully they eat, won't be able to get a perfectly flat stomach. According to Columbia Health's "Go Ask Alice" website, your genes determine the shape of your internal organs, which can affect your ability to have a perfectly flat stomach. In a case like this, even surgery can't help. But there's no need to be concerned about this -- a perfectly flat stomach isn't an indicator of health, and it isn't the absolute standard for beauty.