Flatten Your Belly: A Five-Step Plan

September 9, 2013 2:22 pm Last Updated: September 15, 2013 11:30 pm

There are a number of factors that cause you to gain weight in your gut: stress, a poor diet, poor digestion, eating late at night, overeating, and to a certain degree, genetics.

It is considered particularly dangerous to have an overweight gut (as opposed to overweight thighs) because fat in the belly area increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

If you carry the majority of your weight in your gut, it is time to take action.

1. Start eating a diet with lots of fiber, good quality protein, and good quality fat. Cut out processed grains such as bread (especially white bread) and pasta, which are higher on the glycemic index. They will spike your insulin levels and blood sugar levels, causing you to gain weight in your belly.

Instead, increase your portions of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and watercress, and carrots and apples, which are high in fiber. Incorporate good quality fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, walnuts, and coconut oil, which will help maintain your satiety levels and have been linked to helping burn belly fat.

2. Honor your hunger and fullness. Overeating and undereating often lead to weight gain. It is important to regulate your blood sugar levels by eating when you are hungry and before you get so hungry that you could eat a horse. It is also important to take good care of your digestive system by chewing your food well and ending your meal when you feel satisfied, not full.

3. In terms of burning the fat that loves to droop around your waist, the fastest and possibly most effective way to burn it is to incorporate high-intensity interval training (also known as burst training) into your exercise routine three times a week.

4. Incorporate a solid abdominal-strength training routine by training all of your abdominal muscles. We have two sets of oblique muscles, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis. Many people only train their rectus abdominis and leave out the rest. This not only causes an imbalance, but it also fails to get the results you may be hoping for.

5. Manage your stress. High levels of cortisol, one of the hormones released to help manage stress, have been linked to creating a slower metabolism and weight gain in the belly, back, and triceps. Be sure to slow down each day, taking time to breathe and be in the moment. This will help you lower your cortisol levels and get rid of unwanted fat.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is www.lavendermamas.com.