September 03, 2021 11 min read
This article is an automatic translation from our Original French blog. This text may contain translation errors. Thank you for your understanding.
Our body shape is a reflection of many of our habits, as well as our lifestyle. In the field of fitness, as in everyday life, it is quite common to see women with flat stomachs. And if we sometimes have the impression that these are excessive and unattainable objectives, let us explain to you, in a few lines, how you too can obtain a flat stomach, by giving you some advice!
Firstly, as we mentioned above, when looking for a specific figure, it is important to remember that it is a sum of factors. Here, it is clear that sport will play an important role in achieving our goals. But in addition to the sport, there are many other factors to be taken into account. To make it easier for you to understand, we propose to establish our plan according to three pillars of well-being: sport, diet and lifestyle.
Let's see, point by point, the criteria required by each pillar in order to have a flat stomach.
Sport means muscular activity. Thus, we can imagine that in order to make your stomach flatter, certain muscles will be more concerned than others. In English, we refer to abs as "core". And it's aptly named, as this muscle group is involved in almost every movement of the body! So let's have a quick look at the anatomy of the abdominal muscles. Because if you want to target a part of the body, it is better to know its structure in order to build an intelligent approach!
The abdominal muscles are nested in several layers. From the deepest to the most superficial, we find: the transverse, the internal oblique, the rectus and the external oblique. While the rectus abdominis, responsible for the famous shelf, receives all the attention, it is not the most interesting to mobilise when trying to get a flat stomach. In fact, the transversus abdominis, which is the deepest, is going to be the most prevalent muscle when it comes to maintaining the stomach, and you will soon understand why. This muscle is very large, and encompasses the entire girth of the abdomen, fitting over the ribs and lumbar region at the same time. So if it is toned, it will naturally be tighter. And if it is tighter, the belly will be better supported, naturally giving a flatter and more toned shape. Finally, let's clarify an annoying little misnomer. Everyone has abs! If someone claims "not to have them", it is simply that a fatty film covers them.
Even if this little anatomical point seemed superfluous, think again, because it will allow us to have the right approach to our objectives. And normally, if you have a good understanding of abdominal muscle composition, you may even have some ideas about the criteria that are important for a flat stomach.
This is the most obvious point given the nature of abs. Since they are involved in almost every movement, incorporating polyarticular movements into your fitness sessions is a great way to work them in all aspects. Also, as you know, we need to reduce body fat throughout the body before we can see changes in certain areas. Doing workouts that activate the whole body is therefore the best way to lose body fat overall, and by extension in the stomach area.
In addition to doing full body workouts, playing with the intensity of the effort offers a greater variety of exercises. The greater the intensity, the more toxins you will evacuate through sweat, and the more calories you will burn! The most effective workouts for this are in the HIIT format, where you alternate between high intensity and short rest periods. Running is also a very complete workout.
We know that for many, cardio is not their cup of tea. Fortunately, doing the high-intensity exercises we just mentioned is not crucial in achieving a flat stomach. Exercises that allow you to work out with your endurance are more commonly referred to as "low impact cardio".
Of these, walking is the most effective in achieving a flat stomach, provided you walk actively enough to engage your abs. Plus, walking is probably one of the most accessible exercises!
It may sound silly, but the back is a complex muscle group, which is antagonistic to the abdominal strap. Think of your spine as a pole, with the back as a rope pulling backwards, and the abs pulling the other way. If the abs are too muscular, they will exert tension and pull you forward. So you can see the importance of strengthening your back in proportion to your abs. Strengthening your back will correct your posture and naturally promote your figure and tummy.
Because of their muscular insertion, the abs are extremely solicited in vertical movements, especially from the legs. The exercises to include in your routine for a flat stomach are therefore leg lifts, chest lifts (also known as crunches), or knee lifts. Sheathing and all other plank positions such as push-ups are ideal for engaging the transversus. Other rotational exercises such as russian twists are useful for strengthening the obliques, and harmonising muscle mass.
We advise you to learn about the execution of the above exercises. If it seems easy to do crunches and sit-ups, don't be mistaken, otherwise you will be working the wrong muscles and the iliac psoas. This little-known muscle often tends to take precedence over the activity of the abs by performing their role as hip flexors. The problem is that it will end up being strained, causing significant back pain in the lumbar region.
That's it as far as sports activity is concerned. Now, let's move on to the second, equally if not more important pillar, nutrition.
This first point is the most important of all to ensure that you are eating properly and meeting your needs. Basal metabolic rate is the energy our body uses to perform vital functions such as organ function. It depends on several body factors such as your age, height and gender. This is the minimum daily calorie requirement. You can then calculate your total caloric intake through websites, which corresponds to the basal metabolic rate in addition to other factors, for a better accuracy, such as your physical activity for example.
The previous calculation is useful in the first instance to realise the approximate amounts your body needs. Now, the second use of this calculation is to allow you to set a limit in order to enter a caloric deficit. To put it simply, to have a flatter stomach, you need to lose weight. And to lose weight you need a calorie deficit: this means burning more calories than you consume. The deficit must be small so as not to strain the body. To give you an idea, the deficit should be more or less 100 kilocalories per day. See how your body reacts, and increase it if you think it is right. Another way to enter a deficit without having to do endless calculations is to eat at 80% of your satiety. This Japanese method consists of assessing your satiety during the meal, and never leaving the table with a full stomach. In this way, you manage your diet by listening to your body, without falling into caloric equations.
The promise of diets is that you will lose as much weight as possible in as little time as possible. The problem with diets, as appealing as they may seem, is that the results are usually visible in the short term. Because you have to maintain your ideal weight in the same way as you reached it: by restricting yourself. And these restrictions will sooner or later affect your metabolism. In the long term, these diets cause more harm than good, giving rise to the famous yo-yo effect, for example: I lose 5 kilos, I put on 7 kilos... and so on. The quest for well-being is a marathon, whereas diets are races. Take your time, step by step, and the results will eventually come. The same goes for "slimming products" that only make money for those who sell them.
As with dieting, this restrictive approach can be devastating in the long run. There is a tendency in our society to demonise certain food categories: sugar, fat, etc. The reality is much easier to live with: no nutritional category should be banned, it is all a question of proportion. The brain alone consumes at least 130g of carbohydrates per day, so imagine the damage if you deprive it overnight.
Yes, we just said that all nutrients are important. However, deciphering nutrition labels is a real mental gymnastics, and you have to know how to read between the lines. Therefore, not all fats are the same, and not all carbohydrates are metabolised in the same way. Fats from nuts, almonds or avocados are beneficial because they are unsaturated: they are essential for certain body functions, including burning calories. Fats from croissants, shortbread or cheese, on the other hand, are pure cholesterol. And while our bodies need cholesterol too, they don't require it in large quantities.
Following on from our previous point, let us say a few words about processed foods. These are foods that have gone through countless steps in the production process. These industrial products are frequently included in our diet in a natural way: cakes, sweets, etc. Unfortunately, they contain a lot of harmful ingredients, additives and preservatives. By reducing them, not only will your tummy thank you, but your health as well.
There are two categories of fibre, those from starchy foods (rice, bread, pasta), called insoluble fibre, and those from fruit and vegetables, called soluble fibre. Without going into detail, soluble fibre promotes transit, while insoluble fibre is constipating. Increasing your consumption of fruit and vegetables and therefore of soluble fibre will allow these fibres to act on your body and give you a feeling of satiety. This feeling will naturally make you feel less like eating, and is therefore more conducive to weight loss and a flat stomach. The recommendation for an adult is 30g of fibre per day, which gives you plenty of room to manoeuvre as most people don't reach this level.
The glycaemic index is the rate at which the sugars in a food will be consumed by the body. If it is high, it means that the sugars are quickly absorbed, and this may cause what is known as an "insulin spike". This is your body's reaction to the sugar as it digests it quickly, and therefore wants more and more. To avoid unnecessary snacking and weight gain, it can be instructive to learn about the glycaemic index of foods.
Liquid calories? When we use this term, we are referring to all drinks with a significant caloric intake: soda, smoothies... We don't realise it when we drink them, but they are a major factor in weight gain! And when you're aiming for a flat stomach, these drinks can be an invisible obstacle.
Similarly with alcohol, the number of calories consumed per drink may surprise you. On top of that, the reactions caused by alcohol in the body tend to slow down your metabolism, and to favour the storage of visceral fat, i.e. in the organs. And this fat is much more difficult to eliminate.
Finally, the last item on our nutrition list is salt. If you're good all round but can't achieve your flat stomach goals, it could be because you're using too much salt in your food. Salt dehydrates the body and causes "water retention". As the salt acts on the body, it retains the water present to ensure that it does not become totally dehydrated. This leads to bloating and swelling, which makes the skin feel clogged. The only solution is to reduce salt, by avoiding adding too much to your dishes, or by avoiding products that contain a lot of salt, such as ready-made meals, canned food, etc.
After reviewing the most important nutritional advice, let's look together at the last pillar for obtaining a flat stomach: a healthy lifestyle.
In this section, we will present aspects of daily life to be taken into account, habits to be adopted or corrected, which will all be useful to you in order to achieve the figure you want and have a flat stomach.
This point is surely the most important and the least taken into account in the world of fitness, and sport in general. Sleep is the essential element for the body to regenerate itself. Whether it's to recover from your workout, or to allow the body to fully perform all its functions, it is essential to establish a good sleep rhythm if you want a flat stomach, and this for several reasons. The one that interests us most is hormone production. It has been scientifically proven that if you don't get enough sleep, the level of ghrelin produced by the body increases by 15%. And ghrelin is the hormone responsible for hunger. So if you don't get enough sleep, you're more likely to crave food, and that can be a big problem when you're looking for a flat stomach. Moreover, sleeping at a temperature of around 20°C stimulates thermogenesis and therefore the removal of fat.
A habit that shouldn't even be introduced anymore, hydration is one of the keys to detoxification. Hydrating regularly allows you to drain toxins and improve body flow, thus improving your general condition, and that of your stomach. This is why you should drink at least 1.5L of water a day.
This is another point that has been discussed many times, stress. The reason we suggest managing your stress here is because the hormone that is linked to it is the enemy of weight loss and a flat stomach. It's called cortisol, and it causes the body to store fat. For this reason, managing stress is an asset in the fight against weight gain and abdominal fat.
This is not just a habit, but a way of life. So this may not be for everyone, but the benefits of fasting have been proven, and we believe it is an effective additional technique for a flat stomach. We invite you to learn more about it, and who knows, maybe you will adopt this lifestyle.
This is a very interesting method and is related to the recruitment of the transverse muscles. However, this exercise is not athletic, and that is its strength. The stomach vacuum consists of taking a deep breath, emptying the lungs, then pulling in the stomach as far as possible, for as long as possible. A session therefore corresponds to several cycles of breathing in/out. Having tried it, we can tell you that with one session per day, the results are quickly visible and the stomach is flatter.
Massaging a part of the body increases the vascularity of that part. Promoting blood flow to your belly in this way can help stimulate fat removal.
Finally, tea is a very interesting drink for those who want to slim down their figure. Rich in antioxidants, drinking even one cup of green tea a day can improve your metabolism, and therefore burn more calories.
That concludes this article on how to get a flat stomach, thank you for reading it. We are sure you will make good use of these tips, and we wish you success in achieving your goals!
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