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Three keys to a flat stomach

Exercise, diet and cosmetics are your best allies if you want to beat that belly

November 18, 2010
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Many of us battle with extra kilos that seem to head straight for the tummy area, but if you want to turn a fat belly into a flat belly, there are three key elements to focus on:



Abdominal toning exercises – more commonly known as sit ups or crunches – are one of the most popular techniques for achieving a flat stomach. Sadly, though, the abdominal muscles lie under the adipose tissue, so the results are really only visible if there isn't any excess fat in the area. It's still a good idea to work out the abdominal muscles two to three times a week, with standard, crossover and oblique crunches, but you're probably going to need to do other more general exercise if you want to show off your perfect abs.

Diet and eating habits

Of course exercise is not likely to be enough if you don't watch what you eat. Foods that are high in salt, fizzy drinks and hurried meals (which cause more air to be ingested while chewing) may all cause abdominal swelling, as can as lettuce, beans and fibre-rich foods in general. Eat slowly, chewing each mouthful well, as this will help improve digestion and reduce the build-up of gases that cause bloating

It can also help to eat a larger number of smaller meals throughout the course of the day; if you divide the same quantity of food between more meals, your body will adapt to eating smaller quantities and will use the food more efficiently. 

Take care with carbonated drinks: even those without calories cause bloating, and make your belt feel tighter. On the positive side, herbal teas with anise and fennel, or dietary supplements based on their extracts, promote good digestion and help avoid bloating.

Creams and lotions

There are reducing creams on the market that can help combat localised fat, while anti-fluid-retention products reduce bloating due to water retention. You don't need to use the creams all over, just on the areas where you want to focus, but constancy is important. Apply with a light massage, starting at the navel, working out in a slowly increasing spiral, which will also help prevent the formation of cellulite.

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