Most women want a flat stomach. After all, it makes you look and feel better in your clothes. Getting rid of excess fat around your middle also lowers your risk of several health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Changes to your exercise and diet routine are healthy ways to slim your middle and flatten your abs. It doesn't have to be hard either, so do it for your looks and your health.
Do Some Cardio
All the crunches in the world aren't going to burn off stomach fat. Many women make the mistake of thinking that ab exercises alone can take care of a flabby middle. True, they do tone your muscles, but if you don't burn off the fat around your waist, you won't be able to see them. Cardio burns calories and helps you burn fat all over your body. Uncover those stomach muscles and flatten your abs by engaging in at least 2-1/2 hours of cardio each week. Running, dancing, biking, swimming and soccer are good choices. Bodybuilding.com recommends interval training, where you go at a moderate pace for several minutes, then a vigorous pace for one minute, and back and forth. This boosts calorie burn and metabolism.
Yes, cardio is important for flattening your belly, but strength training is what defines the muscles in the area. Progressive strength training means you gradually make your ab workout harder as your stomach gets stronger and flatter. This ensures that you continue to make progress. Bodybuilding.com suggests three ab workouts per week. Include moves that target your entire core. This means more than just crunches. Add trunk rotations, side bends, situps, planks, captain's chair and standing twists to work your entire abdomen.
Eat Certain Foods
High-calorie foods don't get you a flat stomach. Nor do foods that cause bloating. Choosing the right foods fuels your flat belly workouts and keeps you looking slim around the middle. Eat a variety of foods from each food group, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Of particular importance are whole grains and monounsaturated fats because they help burn belly fat, according to "Health" magazine. Whole-wheat bread and pasta, whole-grain cereal, brown rice and oatmeal are good sources of whole grains. Eat avocados, canola oil, nuts and olives, in moderation, to help meet your monounsaturated fat needs. Yogurt and high-fiber fruits and vegetables are also important to include in your diet.
Avoid Certain Foods
You know not to eat a ton of fast food, fried food, frozen dinners, soda, candy and desserts when you're trying to flatten your stomach. Other seemingly harmless foods might be interfering in your goals as well. Processed carbohydrates, sugar substitutes and salty foods contribute to water retention and bloating, which gets in the way of a flat stomach. Some of these items are also high in fat and calories, which prevents you from losing flab around your middle. Avoid or strictly limit these foods for a stomach you'll be proud to show off.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.