You just bought a gorgeous knit dress for your coworker's wedding or your college reunion where you're expecting to meet Mr. Dream-Guy who dumped you sophomore year. You want to look great, and you do -- legs, arms, butt -- all tight and shapely, until you turn sideways. That belly bump might have people asking, "When's the special event?" Can you flatten that bump to a pancake in time? That depends.
If you're a good weight for your height and generally in good shape, your protruding tummy may be due to other things besides fat, but if you do have to lose a few pounds, it's a good bet some of that fat resides in your belly. According to MayoClinic.com, the fastest safe weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you don't have that much time, you may want to buy another dress because losing faster may sacrifice nutrition or cause you to lose muscle. Plan on creating a deficit of 500 calories per day through diet and exercise. If you aren't getting any cardio, start walking, running or hitting the cardio machines at the gym. If you're doing cardio, up the time or intensity. It could take as much a 300 hours of moderate cardio per week to lose 1 to 2 pounds, or 150 minutes at a vigorous intensity. Cut empty calories from added fats and sugars, and make sure to get a balanced diet and the minimum number of required calories.
Whether or not you need to lose weight, flattening that tummy will require some resistance training. Your ab muscle is really the rectus abdominis that runs all the way down the front of your torso. Consequently, there is no such thing as "upper abs" and "lower abs." And the classic "lower ab" exercise -- leg lifts -- really works certain hip muscles. That doesn't mean you can't emphasize the lower part of the muscle with exercises like reverse crunches and reverse situps, but don't do these to the exclusion of total ab exercises like regular situps and crunches. Include front planks, as a strong core makes it easier to tuck in that tummy, and don't forget bridges. While these work the muscles that oppose the abs, weak back muscles can lead to sagging posture, which, in turn, can cause your stomach to pooch out.
Breathing properly -- that is, out on the exertion and in on the return -- is important for any exercise, but getting it backwards with ab work can lead to a very strong, but very round stomach. Proper breathing will also allow you to target the transverse abdominis, the deep muscle that helps pull your tummy in. Before every ab workout, practice proper breathing by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Press your back to the mat and take a deep breath while extending your stomach. Next, think of your stomach as a deflating balloon as you exhale slowly while concentrating on pulling your ab muscles toward your backbone. Incorporate these breathing techniques in all your ab work.
Avoid Gassy Foods
If you're doing all the right things, and you're tummy is still round, it could be due to gassy foods. Since a pooched-out tummy isn't the only embarrassment gas and bloating can cause at the big event, now is the time to do some experimenting. Start by eliminating carbonated drinks that probably carry empty calories anyway, as well as chewing gum. Other normally good for you foods such as beans, cauliflower and some fruits can also cause gas in some people. If you eliminate these from your diet, make sure to find nutritious substitutes.
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