I’m pretty happy to finally publish this post as it took a lot of work. It was very important to me to collect all the information I know about this topic and present it to you in a the most valuable way. These are the best steps that helped me to get a flat stomach. My road to the body of my dream was long and bumpy. And even though I used to consider my belly as my main asset (because legs were always my number one problem) I still had struggles to make it slim and flat. But I’ve figured it out, it works and I hope it will be useful for you as well.
I don’t claim that these tips are the easiest aka “drink lemon water and your fat will melt in a week” but they are effective (I tested on myself) and straight forward (simple steps to follow). Here they are:
Proper nutrition for a flat stomach
In order to lose belly fat and make your stomach flat in a month (or less, it really depends on your starting point) you need to focus on your diet first. They say that “abs are made in a kitchen” and that’s very true because the foods you eat have great impact on how your body looks.
If you consume a lot of junk food, processed meats, fat desserts and sugary drinks it’s very unlikely to have a beautiful fit body. Unless you are lucky to have awesome genetics (which is rare).
First of all, I would recommend
Avoid eating processed foods (all that came in cans, bags, tubes, containers) like pizzas, burgers, pies, premade frozen meals etc. Choose eggs, fish, beans and legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds.
Be careful with sauces and dressings. You can eat WAY less calories without noticing it only by switching unhealthy dressings to homemade alternatives (like tomato paste, coconut aminos, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, tahini, unsweetened yogurt and others).
Manufactured sauces contain too much sugar, salt and fat that you don’t need in your plate if you want to get a flat tummy.
The same is true for soft drinks and sugary alcohol. If you’re accustomed to drink a coffee from Starbucks every morning or have a cocktail in the evening just to get relaxed, you may consume a lot of sugar (and thus calories) even without realizing it. I know people who reduced the consumption of their favorite drinks (or substitute it for a healthier version) and started to lose weight without changing anything else in their diet! That’s a thing you should think about 😉
Cut down your sugar and unhealthy fats. Instead of cakes or cookies opt for fresh fruits, berries, nuts and seeds, unsweetened nut butters and stevia, yogurt and cottage.
Try to eat less animal fats and opt for healthy plant-based options like avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, tahini.
Be in a caloric deficit to get a flat stomach
If you still don’t have a flat stomach due to excess fat on your abdominal area that means you have to consume less calories than you burn. For example, if you consume 2000 calories a day while seating in front of computer many hours you probably burn around 1600 calories. This way you have a caloric proficit that leads to storing these additional calories as fat on your stomach (and other areas).
But you need to be in a caloric deficit instead. They say that for healthy fat loss you want to have about 500 calories deficit every day to lose one pound of fat weekly. You may do that by consuming less calories (for example, skipping high sugary coffee and a dessert) or by burning additional calories (let’s say you may walk one hour every day or do a HIIT workout. More on that in the next paragraphs.)
To get an idea on how many calories you eat I recommend to track your food. The easiest way to do this is to use any handy mobile app you like. I personally prefer Fatsecret, but I’ve heard much good about MyfitnessPal as well. I believe it’s enough to track your meals for about a week. After that you need to deduct 500 calories from this amount to create a caloric deficit. Or you can increase your physical activity. Usually, the combination of both works the best.
This step is very important because you can be very unrealistic about how much you eat, believe your gal! Haha 😀 I used to think that I eat too little and wondered why I still couldn’t lose weight. But in fact, it happened that I ate at least 300-500 calories more than I expected which lead to weight maintaining – not weight loss.
And please be disciplined enough to track every single piece your take. Sometimes a tiny chunk of fatty cookie can contain a hundred calories. And if you take a few of them even without noticing (and without tracking) you may consume more than you need on a daily basis.
Not only fat may ruin your flat tummy but you can also be bloated due to many different reasons. I’ve come across the main factors and suggested the best tips/remedies in this article “How to get rid of bloating. Tips that make your tummy finally flat!”.
Check it out and you will find the best information there I can ever provide on this topic.
I just want to mention that bloating was my big problem. My tummy looked big and flabby even when I trained hard and had abs. Sometimes I just got bloated and couldn’t even to suck in my belly in order to look slim. Not to mention that besides poor appearance it felt painful and uncomfortable all the time.
Luckily, I’ve changed my eating habits and managed to reduce my symptoms. So I highly recommend to read my article, print the checklists/files I provide there and beat the bloating for good!
Improve your digestion
Another important tip on how to get a flat stomach is to improve your digestion. First of all, make sure that you don’t have any serious problems with it. Because some digestive issues make it hard to lose weight. For example, if you have an acid reflux you may want to eat frequently to sooth the pain. Or you may gain weight due to SIBO (small bowel bacterial overgrowth) that is a common condition nowadays. So check your health first to be sure that nothing prevents you from reaching your goal.
Second, stay regular. Sometimes this easy step can become the main factor why you don’t have a flat tummy. Constipation is very toxic and inflammatory, it can lead to bacteria overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, problems with appetite, thyroid issues and many more. Besides, if you are not regular you may be suffering from bloating that prevents your belly to be flat and slim.
In order to stay regular, you have to increase your water intake (drink at least 1,5 liters of pure water
Reduce water retention to have a flat stomach
Sometimes your belly doesn’t look flat because you have issues with water retention. Excess water in your tissues can cause weight gain so make sure your don’t suffer from this problem.
How to determine whether you have water retention?
Usually you can notice it if your ankles, calves or fingers are swollen. Try to press them with your fingers. If an indentation will show on the skin you probably have edema.
There are two main ways to beat the edema:
- Reduce salt intake. Most of the time we can’t even imagine how much sodium we consume everyday. This happens because when you eat junk food or buy a process food (like pizzas, sausages, sauces) you may not realize that this food is stored with salt. It’s a great preservative as well as flavor intensifier. So the best idea is to choose whole foods and try to cook at home. It will be easier for you to control how much salt your put into it.
I personally adore salty foods. But when possible I try to reduce the amount of sodium in my meals by adding more spices and herbs instead.
- Increase water intake. Hydration is the key as it actually reduces retention. It may seem counterintuitive but you need to drink more water in order to get rid of edema. The thing is that your body tries to hold the water if you constantly consume too little liquid. So the body wants to retain it just in case. That’s why be sure you drink at least 1,5-2 liters of water every day to keep yourself hydrated.
I find it difficult for myself to drink enough water because I just don’t like it, haha 🙂 But there are some tricks that helped with that: I pour a gallon on water and put it on my working desk so it is always in my sight. This way I always get reminded to sip on it. And it’s also a good idea to add some berries, fruits or mint to your water just to make it more flavourful and pleasant to drink.
You may also want to check your kidneys as some diseases can cause edema. So be sure you don’t have such issues before continuing your weightloss journey.
Check your hormonal balance
It was a big issue in my case because I have a PCOS that kept me from losing weight. I struggled to control my weight for years, I tried every diet outhere, I trained a lot, I ate healthy food most of the time. But I still didn’t get much results because my hormones were messed up and I was naturally prone to weight gain.
And only when I figured out how to cure my hormones and created a meal plan/fitness routine tailored for PCOS I started getting results. I build abs, lost excess weight and got fit. Finally!
That’s why I insist on checking your hormonal status first. You need to be sure that your hormones are in balance. Otherwise, you will waste your time and energy trying to lose weight. Or even make the situation worse by choosing
The most common hormonal causes that prevent you from having a flat stomach
Check these ones first if you have a suspicion that you gain weight due to hormonal problems.
Exercises that help you to get a flat stomach
There are a lot of exercises that claim to get you a flat stomach. Some people say you have to do cardio everyday, others recommend to lift heavy in order to change your body shape. It all may work. But I personally see significant results only from two types of workouts. First is strength training for abdominal area (exercises that build your ab muscles) because they tighten up your stomach and make it look thinner. Second is HIIT(High-intensity interval training) because it helps to burn fat effectively.
I started training my abs with the standard crunches and I got good results. But this exercise is criticized a lot last years. So I would recommend you to use the following exercises to flatten and tighten your stomach: standard plank and all its variations, bicycle, flat kicks, reverse crunches.
You may also try my workout for a flat tummy:
As for the HIIT, it is a form of interval training when you perform a series of intense anaerobic exercises that may involve sprints, jumps, push-up, burpees etc. This type of workout is very brutal. At least for me 🙂 When I do it I am just sweating like crazy and feel extremely exhausted. But it usually takes 20-30 minutes and you are free. It is easy to incorporate this workout to any schedule. But better in the morning because you need to have energy for this.
And HIIT really works. It’s one of the best way to burn a lot of calories, melt fat and remain muscles.
Besides these, other types of physical activity are also very beneficial for you and may contribute to your flat stomach. You may start to walk (fast, for at least an hour) every day to burn additional 300-500 calories and hence create a caloric deficit to lose excess fat on your abdominal area.
If you are not used to train constantly I would recommend to choose an activity that you like. Only this way you can push yourself to do it everyday and build a steady fitness routine that will lead you to your goal – have a flat stomach.
Vacuum exercise for a flat stomach
Another little trick that can lead to great results! I was sceptical about this exercise because from the outside it seemed to be absolutely useless. Probably, my opinion was based on my inner belief that only hard vigorous exercises (when your muscles are burning and you are sweating like crazy 😀 ) could be effective. But now I can tell you that it’s not always the case. I really recommend to try vacuum exercise if you want to have a flat stomach. Besides, it’s so easy and quick, you don’t need much time or special equipment for that.
Ok, what is a vacuum? It is an abdominal exercise that targets your deepest ab muscles. In a nutshell, you just suck in your stomach for 20 seconds or even a minute (it depends on your level). But it’s crucial to do it properly otherwise you won’t see any results and can even make it harmful for your health. So I would highly recommend to follow detailed instruction on how to do this exercise. You may find these videos helpful:
Why vacuum exercise is great? Because it provides stability to your spine, it improves core and helps to flatten your stomach. Just keep in mind that you have to perform this exercise in the morning on an empty stomach. 5-10 minutes are enough but you need to do it regularly, and you can even implement vacuum in your standard workout (for example, if you do ab workout you may use a vacuum technique and it will double your results!)
Massage for a flat stomach
There are lot of debates about whether massages (and other external cosmetic things like wraps, body scrubs etc) work or not. But I personally think that the massage never hurts. It helps reduce cellulite, relieve stress and what’s the most important – it improves blood circulation. Combined with exercises and diet it can help you burn fat in this area more effectively. So you kind of double a fat burning effect if you implement massage in your daily routine.
How to do a massage to get a flat stomach? If you can afford a proper massage therapy I suggest to practice self-massage on your problem areas (tummy, thighs, calves etc). Use oil to make your movements smooth and gentle. The most common techniques include circular movements, tingles and pats. You can find many video instructions on YouTube and start doing it as early as today!
I know, this tip is so common and so annoying (I feel you! :)) But it’s something you should remind yourself every time you want to give up. I can definitely relate to the feeling when you are very disappointed of your slow/small results. My body is really stubborn and tries to keep weight by all means 😀 That’s why in my case I need to wait longer than other people to get the same result they get sooner and easier.
But just know that you will get a flat stomach anyway! Be consistent, measure yourself to track the results (because often scales are wrong and don’t represent the real situation) and be nice to yourself. If you fall a little bit of track (or a lot, haha, it happens) just start again and continue your journey.
And feel free to contact me or ask for advice. I always happy to help with your fitness goals!