Weight gain in the stomach area is common, and its presence can place you at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer or Type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard Medical School. Although surgery is one option for those with a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 40, there are plenty of nonsurgical options for shrinking your stomach in a natural, healthy way. Gradual weight loss and fat reduction achieved through healthy eating and exercising can help you shrink your stomach fat.
Consult your physician before embarking on an exercise and weight-loss plan.
Weight gain around the middle used to be an accepted part of middle age, particularly for menopausal women, according to Harvard Medical School. But it has since been determined that as your waist measurement increases, health risks do, too.
Help flatten your stomach by avoiding belly-bloating foods, such as foods with a high sodium content, carbonated beverages, beans, cabbage and other foods that cause gas.
Reduce stress, suggests Women's Health Magazine, to lose weight in the stomach area. Take time to relax each day; meditate, perform yoga or get a massage for stress relief.
Perform 30 to 60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise daily. Walk for one hour daily to burn around 250 calories and lose 1/2 pound each week. Increase the calories you burn through cardiovascular exercise and subsequently shrink your stomach by jogging or bicycling for one hour instead for an expenditure of approximately 500 calories.
Consume a calorie-reduced diet in which plant-based foods play a primary role, suggests the Mayo Clinic. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products. Add low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Choose healthy fats, such as olive oil and almond butter, over the saturated fats found in butter, cheese and fatty meats. Reduce your intake of calories by 250 to 500 each day to further shrink your stomach and increase your weekly weight loss by another 1/2 to 1 pound.
Engage in strength training exercises to tone the muscles around your stomach and give your tummy area an even slimmer appearance. Do the bellybutton pull to work the inner abdominal muscles. Lie flat on your back and place your hands palms down just below your bellybutton. Draw your bellybutton in as if you're trying to touch the floor beneath you. Hold the position for a count of five before relaxing. Repeat this exercise eight to 12 times, three to five times per week.
Tighten and tone your oblique muscles, the muscles that run along your sides, for a slimmer midsection. Perform oblique crunches by lying on your back with your fingertips placed lightly beneath your head. Draw your knees up toward your stomach so your legs form a 90-degree angle. Use your stomach muscles to lift your head, neck and chest off the floor. Twist your torso to the left and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Slowly release, straighten your torso and lower yourself to the starting position using your stomach muscles. Repeat on the other side for one full repetition. Do 12 to 20 repetitions every other day.
Do leg raises to tone your lower abdominal muscles. Lie on your back and place your hands, palms down, underneath your hips to prevent stress on the lower back. Straighten your legs and press them together. Use your stomach muscles to lift your legs up slowly until your toes are pointing at the ceiling. Slowly lower your legs until they're about 4 inches above the floor and stop. Repeat this exercise eight to 12 times, three to five times per week.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.