Those washboard abs don’t come easy — even for the genetically blessed. It takes hard work, dedication, and yes, a little bit of sweat to achieve that toned tummy. So when you hear about a 21, 28, or even 30-day flat stomach challenge, you can’t help but wonder whether you should get on board with it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to skip a few crunches here and there if it meant finally seeing some results? But the truth is, most of these challenges are nothing more than a waste of time. Why? Because you can’t spot-reduce fat from your stomach — or any other area on your body, for that matter. When you lose weight, it happens all over. Doing sit-ups until you’re ready to puke isn’t going to do anything but leave you with a sore back and an aching stomach. That said, not all flat stomach challenges are created equal. Some may actually be worth your while — as long as you approach them with realistic expectations. Here’s what you need to know before signing up for a flat stomach challenge.
How Can I Get A Flat Stomach In 30 Days?
The honest answer is: you can’t. At least, not without doing some serious damage to your metabolism or your body. Even if you’re following a strict diet and exercise regimen, it’s going to take more than a month to get rid of the layers of fat around your stomach.
Let’s look at belly fat from a scientific standpoint. When you eat, your body breaks down the food into glucose, which is then used for energy. Any extra glucose that your body doesn’t need is stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles (17).
But when you eat more calories than you can burn off, that glycogen gets converted into triglycerides, which are then stored as fat (17).
So where does this fat go? It depends on where you’re genetically predisposed to store it. For some people, that’s the hips and thighs. For others, it’s the arms or the face. And for some people, it’s the belly.
If you’re carrying a lot of weight around your midsection, it’s likely because that’s where your body stores excess fat. And unfortunately, there’s no way to spot-reduce it. No amount of crunches or sit-ups is going to make that fat go away.
The only way to lose belly fat is to lose weight overall. As you cut back on the calories you consume and increase the ones you expend through exercise, your body will start to burn fat off all over — including your stomach.
Interestingly, belly fat isn’t always the first to go even when you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, sometimes it’s the last. Your body decides where to store fat and where to burn it off based on a number of factors, including hormones, age, gender, and genetics (6).
Note that your body actually needs some of this fat. For women, those stored triglycerides help to nourish the developing baby during pregnancy (14). And for both men and women, they provide cushioning around the organs to protect them from injury (32).
It’s only when the visceral fat — the fat that surrounds your organs — starts to build up that you need to be concerned. This type of fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer (1).
So how much belly fat is too much? That’s a tricky question to answer because people come in all shapes and sizes. But generally speaking, men should aim for a waist circumference of less than 40 inches, and women should aim for a waist circumference of less than 35 inches (3).
If your waistline is larger than that, it’s time to start making some changes — and a flat stomach challenge could be a good place to start. Just remember that challenges like these are meant to be a jumping-off point for healthier habits, not a quick fix.
Is A Flat Stomach Challenge Safe?
When done correctly, a flat stomach challenge can be a safe and effective way to jumpstart your weight loss journey. But it’s important to keep in mind that these challenges are not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise plan.
If you’re considering a flat stomach challenge, make sure you do your research first. There are a lot of challenges out there, and not all of them are created equal. Some may actually do more harm than good.
When choosing a challenge, look for one that:
- Is based on sound science
- Allows you to eat a variety of healthy foods
- Encourages moderate exercise
- Doesn’t require you to eliminate entire food groups
- Doesn’t promise unrealistic results
- Includes a maintenance plan for after the challenge is over
If a challenge meets all of these criteria, it’s likely to be safe and effective. Just remember that even the best challenges will only work if you’re committed to following through with them.
How Do You Get A Flat Stomach ASAP?
Flat stomach challenges aside, there are some tried-and-tested ways to reduce visceral fat and tone your midsection. These include:
Smart Calorie Reduction
Calorie reduction is the holy grail of weight loss. In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit — meaning you need to burn more calories than you’re taking in (13).
There are a few different ways to do this. You can reduce the number of calories you consume, increase the number of calories you burn through exercise, or ideally, do both.
When it comes to reducing calories, the best approach is to focus on healthy, nutrient-rich foods. These include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats (24).
Not only are these foods lower in calories than processed junk food, but they’re also more filling. This means you’ll be less likely to overeat and end up in a calorie deficit.
Choosing The Right Exercise
Exercise is the other side of the weight loss coin. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you’re taking in. And one of the best ways to do that is through exercise (13).
Not only does exercise help you burn calories, but it also has a host of other benefits. It can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost your overall mood (16).
When it comes to exercise, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The best exercise for you is the one that you’re actually going to do. But if you’re looking for a starting point for fat loss, cardio is always a good option. This could include activities like walking, running, biking, or swimming.
If you really want to rev up your fat-burning engine, interval training is the way to go. Interval training is a type of exercise that alternates between periods of high and low intensity.
Not only does interval training help you burn more calories than traditional cardio, but it also helps you build muscle. And the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate — meaning you’ll be burning more calories even when you’re at rest (12).
A few examples of interval training exercises include sprinting intervals, cycling intervals, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
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In addition to interval training, strength training is also key for fat loss. Strength training helps you build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (19).
There are a lot of different ways to do strength training. You can lift weights at the gym, do bodyweight exercises at home, or take a class like yoga or Pilates. The important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy and stick with it.
Pile Up On The Fiber
Fiber plays a crucial role in gut health, according to research (15). Eating more soluble fiber (the kind that dissolves in water) has been linked with reduced visceral fat.
But that’s not all. Soluble fibers absorb large amounts of water and slow down digestion. This combination helps keep you feeling full and can help reduce your overall calorie intake (15).
There is some evidence that this type of fiber also decreases the calories your body absorbs from other foods (10).
If you’re looking to lose weight, be sure to load up on soluble fiber. Good sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, chia seeds, flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, and avocados.
If you’re trying to lose weight, aim for 25–30 grams of fiber per day (8). Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.
Take Probiotic Foods And Supplements
Gut composition and weight gain have a complex relationship, according to research (7).
Your gut microbiota (the community of bacteria that live in your intestines) can influence everything from immunity to mental health (23). And emerging research suggests that your gut health may also play a role in weight gain and obesity (33).
Probiotics are live bacteria that offer health benefits when consumed. They’re often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy (11). Probiotics are found in a variety of foods and supplements.
There is some evidence that probiotics may help promote weight loss by reducing inflammation, boosting metabolism, and increasing satiety (11).
Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha. You can also take probiotic supplements, but be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Eat More Monounsaturated Fats
Mono-unsaturated fats are a type of “healthy” fat that can help promote weight loss (9). They’re found in a variety of foods, including olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Monounsaturated fats can help reduce your appetite and promote fullness. They may also help decrease your body fat and increase your insulin sensitivity (34).
It’s no surprise that diets such as the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes mono-unsaturated fats, have been linked with weight loss and other health benefits (5). Going on such a diet may be a worthwhile weight-loss strategy for you to consider.
Cut Back On Refined Carbs
Refined carbs are high in sugar and have been stripped of their fiber content. This makes them quicker to digest, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Eating refined carbs has been linked with weight gain and other health problems(18) (25) . For this reason, it’s important to cut back on refined carbs and focus on eating more whole grains. Good sources of whole grains include oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice.
Limit Your Intake Of Added Sugar
Added sugar is a type of sugar that is added to foods during processing. It’s found in a variety of foods, including candy, baked goods, and soda.
Eating too much added sugar has been linked with weight gain and other health problems (26). For this reason, it’s important to limit your intake of added sugar. When possible, choose foods that are naturally sweet or that have no added sugar.
Reduce Your Intake Of Saturated And Trans Fats
Trans fats are a type of “unhealthy” fat that can have negative effects on your health. They’re found in a variety of processed foods, such as crackers and cookies (31).
Saturated fats are another type of “unhealthy” fat that can adversely affect your health. They’re found in animal-based foods, such as butter and red meat (28).
Eating too much saturated and trans fats pile up the calorie count and has been linked with weight gain and other health problems (2). For this reason, it’s important to limit your intake of these types of fats.
Reading labels and avoiding foods that contain these fats can help you cut back. You can also cook with healthier oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is often overlooked when it comes to losing belly fat. Yet research shows that getting enough shut-eye is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to weight loss (20).
When you’re sleep deprived, your body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol. This increases your appetite and can lead to weight gain (29). What’s more, sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes (4).
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try some relaxation techniques like reading or meditation.
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Manage Your Stress Levels
A fast-paced lifestyle can be stressful. When you’re stressed, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol. This increases your appetite and can lead to weight gain (30).
To manage your stress levels, try to get regular exercise, get enough sleep, and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. If you’re still feeling stressed, talk to your doctor about other ways to manage your stress.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a weight-loss strategy that involves restricting your food intake for certain periods of time. It has been shown to help with weight loss, and may also help reduce your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (21) (22).
If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, start with a plan that allows you to fast for 12-16 hours per day. This could involve skipping breakfast and only eating lunch and dinner. Once you’re comfortable with this, you can try fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week.
The Bottom Line
A flat stomach challenge can be a great way to jumpstart your weight loss journey. But it’s important to choose a safe and effective challenge, and to remember that challenges are not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise plan.
With commitment and perseverance, you can reach your goal of a flat stomach — and a healthier overall lifestyle.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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