Most women have things they want to change about the way they look. You can be healthy and confident but still want to make minor tweaks to your body. For example, a woman who is already slim and petite may want to improve her muscle tone or reduce her body fat percentage. The stomach is a problem area for many women because the body loves to hoard fat around the midsection. This can be a problem even if you're a size 2 -- but there are some simple tricks you can do to eliminate tummy pudge and uncover a flat, toned stomach.
Moderate your diet. As the saying goes, "Abs are made in the kitchen." If your stomach isn't flat, the cause is most likely excess abdominal fat. You can reduce overall body fat by eating a healthy diet of lean proteins and vegetables while creating a slight daily calorie deficit. Foods that are high on the glycemic index, like those containing white flours and sugars, can cause insulin spikes that increase the likelihood of storing abdominal fat. Avoid this by eating complex, low-glycemic carbohydrates such as whole grains.
Perform moderate cardiovascular exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense cardio each week. Cardiovascular exercise will help your body burn calories to shed unwanted abdominal fat.
Perform resistance training exercises. If you increase your overall muscle, you'll turn your body into a calorie-burning furnace that incinerates body fat. You should also perform resistance exercises to target the abs. A stomach pooch is sometimes the result of weakened lower abdominal muscles that can't properly hold your gut in. Strengthening the abdominal wall will naturally pull your belly in and create a flatter appearance.
Avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention. If your abs are already strong and you don't have extra belly fat, your flat stomach solution may be as simple as eliminating certain foods. Carbonated sodas, broccoli, lettuce, beans, hard candy and chewing gum are common gas culprits. Foods that are high in sodium may cause water retention, which can also make your belly look bloated, so avoid processed and prepared foods. Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, in accordance with USDA guidelines.
- There is no such thing as spot reduction. Your body will lose fat from the areas it chooses, in the order of its liking. Unfortunately, that means your belly could be the last place you're genetically programmed to shed abdominal fat from. That doesn't mean you can't have a flat belly, though. It just means you may have to work a little harder for it.
- Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program or changing your diet. In rare cases, a distended belly may be a symptom of an underlying medical problem such as celiac disease or acid reflux.
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.