Six top tips for a flat stomach

Whether the beach beckons or you want to wear a form-fitting frock, a flat stomach is the perfect accessory! And the good news is that you don't have to spend every waking minute at the gym to achieve it - there are small steps you can take at home to stop you looking bloated.

Check out our six simple steps to help you get a flat tummy.

Ditch the salt
Cut down on your salt intake to help beat bloating tummies. According to experts, reducing salt to just 3g a day by avoiding all processed foods, will help your body release water it has been retaining to help dilute high salt levels in your body.

If you do need to use salt, try to make it natural sea salt; teaspoon to teaspoon, it is lower in sodium than table salt. And stay away from soy sauce which has high levels of sodium and will cause almost instant bloating. You can always flavour your food with other herbs and spices; cayenne pepper, cumin and tabasco sauce will also help boost your metabolism.

Stick to still
Steer clear of fizzy drinks and sparkling water which will introduce extra gas into your body and contribute to bloating in your tummy.

Avoid food on the go
Make sure you slow down and sit down at all mealtimes. It will help you relax and focus on what you are eating. And make sure you mind your manners. Eating with your mouth closed, and not talking while you are chewing, will reduce the amount of air that would otherwise get trapped in your stomach. You should also try to chew more – calories can be reduced by as much as 12 per cent by chewing each mouthful 40 times rather than 15, research has shown.

Have a good laugh
Laughing is a fantastic and fun way to tone up your abs. Every time you have a good laugh, you are helping to strengthen your stomach muscles  – with absolutely no lycra in sight!

Portion control
According to Keri Glassman, author of the O2 Diet, the best way to eat for a flat belly is to eat "portion-controlled meals that include whole-grain foods and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) throughout the day".

MUFAs are plant-based fats that can be found in avocado, nuts and seeds, olives and dark chocolate, and research has shown that they help target fat in your tummy.
Whole grains, meanwhile, contain magnesium and chromium, two nutrients that combat cortisol, a stress hormone that directs fat to be stored around the waist, and keep insulin production down – high levels of the hormone also encourage fat to collect around the stomach.

Go green
Research has shown a direct link between green tea and smaller waists. Green tea contains compounds called catechins, which increase the release of fat from fat cells, help boost energy expenditure and speed up the burning of fat by the liver. Study participants drank four or five cups a day, but any amount will benefit your body.

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