Do you dream about having a flat stomach? Well, you are not alone. Most men and women who join a gym, do so in the hope of losing their belly fat. But achieving a flat stomach goes far beyond the gym. It also involves eating right, sleeping right and reducing stress. Follow these few simple science-backed tips and tricks to achieve that super slim waistline.

Eat better to get a flat stomach

1. Resist cutting down on calories

Many women start eating less in the hope of losing weight quickly. But this strategy can be counterproductive as this can slow down your metabolism, which in turn reduces the number of calories you burn on a daily basis (1).

This lower metabolic rate can persist even after you have started eating regularly and can lead to weight gain in the long term (2).

So, it is important not to restrict your calorie intake drastically as you may end up putting on weight.

2. Have more soluble fiber

Eating more soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat and help you achieve a flat stomach. Soluble fiber, like glucomannan and beta-glucan, mix with water to form a gel-like substance, which slows the release of digested food in the digestive tract (3).

According to one study, a 10 gram increased intake of soluble fiber helped decrease the weight gain in the midsection by 3.7 percent over five years (5).

Some of the foods that are good sources of soluble fiber are peas, lentils, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocado, and oatmeal.

3. Limit your refined carb intake

Not only is eating fewer carbohydrates healthy, but it also helps give you a flat stomach (6). Several other studies have also shown that low-carb diets target the abdominal fat (7, 8).

Not all carbs are wrong, but refined carbs can indeed be harmful. So, replace refined carbs with whole foods. Trade white rice for brown rice. Replace pasta with oatmeal.

According to an observational study, increased whole grain intake is associated with lower visceral adipose tissue (9).

Tips for a flat stomach infographic infographic

4. Eat more protein

A diet rich in protein is essential for fat loss. Our body spends more calories burning proteins than it does while burning carbs or fats. So, if you eat a protein-rich diet, you can quickly burn up to 100 calories more per day.

Protein helps in the weight loss process in several ways. When we eat a protein-rich meal, we feel fuller for longer and hence eat fewer calories.

A higher intake of protein also increases the levels of satiety hormones like GLP-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin, and reduces the levels of hunger hormone ghrelin (10).

During one study, an increased intake of protein from 15 to 30 percent, lead to a decreased intake of calories by 441 per day (11).

5. Have monounsaturated fatty acids

Several studies have shown that a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids can help prevent the accumulation of fat around the stomach and thus will result in a flat stomach (12, 13).

Monounsaturated fatty acids increase the body’s basal metabolic rate and help burn fat quicker. According to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, monounsaturated fats increase satiety, which prevents over-eating and thus help in weight loss.

Avocados and olives are good examples of monounsaturated fatty acids.

6. Eat food with probiotics

Eating foods that contain probiotics can help you get a flat stomach. The harmful bacteria in the gut can cause your belly to bloat. Eating probiotic-rich food helps get rid of this bloating.

A regular intake of probiotics can reduce the risk of weight gain and fat accumulation in the abdominal cavity.

Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus amylovorus, and Lactobacillus gasseri are some of the strains of probiotics that are effective in reducing belly fat (14, 15).

7. Have apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which helps suppress fat accumulation (16).

During a 2009 study on Japanese men, researchers discovered one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for 12 weeks helped reduce their waistline by 1.4 cm (17).

Apple cider vinegar helps to improve metabolic function.

8. Stop drinking soda

Sodas and carbonated drinks can cause gas in your stomach which may lead to bloating. These sugary drinks are also loaded with empty calories, which can lead to weight gain.  These drinks also contain fructose, which is linked to stomach fat (18).

According to a 2001 study on 548 children, drinking sugar-sweetened drinks can increase the risk of obesity by 60 percent (19).

So, if you want to lose stomach fat, you must shift from drinking soda to having more water.

9. Drink more water

There are many ways in which drinking more water can help you achieve a flat stomach. Drinking water prevents stomach bloating by aiding digestion and relieving constipation.

Water can also increase your metabolic rate, which helps you lose weight faster. In fact, according to a 2003 study, drinking 500 ml of water can increase the metabolic rate by 30 percent (20).

Drinking water before meals can also make you feel full, so you eat fewer calories, which helps in weight loss (21).

10. Drink protein shakes

Getting enough protein can reduce appetite, boost metabolism and help you lose belly fat (22). Through protein shakes you can quickly add more protein to your diet.

Many studies have shown that adding protein shakes to your diet are an effective way to lose belly fat (23).

11. Limit your salt intake

If you want a flat stomach, you must limit your salt intake. According to research, sodium alters our metabolism, which changes the way our body absorbs fat. Increased salt intake can also increase our thirst and appetite, which can lead to obesity.

Experts recommend that we should not take more than 2,400 mg of sodium in a day.

12. Eat smaller meals

You should eat smaller meals and avoid eating at least 3 hours before bedtime. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full. So, eating slowly, helps you consume up to 10 percent fewer calories.

Scientists also recommend mindful eating, a technique that involves eating without distraction, focussing on hunger cues and eating till you feel full (24).

13. Avoid swallowing air

We swallow air when we chew gum, have carbonated drinks, drink through a straw or talk while eating. This can lead to bloating.

Shift to eating healthy, high-fiber snacks, drink water and avoid straws and eat quietly.

14. Avoid sugar

Sugar is a carbohydrate that is filled with empty calories and has no nutritional value. Numerous studies have shown a direct link between added sugars and an increased waistline (25).

Refined sugars are also linked to many common diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease.

15. Avoid alcohol

Not only are alcoholic drinks rich in calories, but they also increase your appetite and confuse the part of the brain that is responsible for the feeling of fullness.

One ounce of beer contains the same calories as that of a sugary soda, while red wine is even higher in calories.

Though moderate drinking does not affect weight gain, heavy drinking can lead to weight gain around the stomach (26).

16. Eat eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is responsible for burning fat. They are high in protein and contain only 77 calories. Eggs help to improve metabolism and prevent fat storage in the belly.

Some studies have also shown that having eggs for breakfast improves satiety and reduces short-term fat intake (27).  In fact, eggs are more effective in reducing waist size than many other foods with similar calorie content.

17. Have tea or coffee

Both tea and coffee can help burn more calories. While coffee can increase the number of calories consumed by 3 to 11 percent (28), tea can increase fat burning by 17 percent according to various studies (29).

Studies have also shown that drinking these two healthy beverages can reduce the risk of accumulating belly fat.

18. Eat fatty fish

Eating fatty fish like salmon is excellent for reducing stomach fat. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which are known to help reduce fat mess. They also improve satiety, which is why experts recommend eating them at least once or twice a week.

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver and abdominal cavity (30).

19. Have coconut oil

Coconut oil can also help you reduce belly fat. This oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides that help boost metabolism.

According to a study on obese men, 30 grams of coconut oil consumption for four weeks helped reduce waist size by 2.65 cm (31).

20. Try intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating method by which you limit your eating window to eight hours and fast for the rest of the day. This type of fasting is done at least two to four times a week.

This method helps reduce calorie consumption and helps to reduce your waistline.

21. Journal your food intake

Noting down your food intake helps you by keeping you on track with a healthy diet plan and help you lose weight. According to studies, people who track their calories are more likely to lose weight (32).

Exercise regularly to flatten the stomach

22. Do some cardio

Cardio and aerobic exercises help burn calories and improve overall health. Several studies also indicate that aerobic exercise can be helpful in reducing and strengthening the waist (33).

Experts recommend that we must do some form of cardio exercise like running, walking, biking or rowing for 20 to 40 minutes per day. Your cardio routine should focus on overall weight reduction if you want to flatten your tummy.

23. Do resistance training

When you diet, you tend to lose muscle along with fat. This can slow you’re your metabolic rate. Weight training helps to build muscle, so you burn more calories at rest (34).

Resistance training also helps to tighten your stomach muscles and reduce your waist size. Combine strength training with cardio for most effective weight loss.

24. Do high-intensity interval training

High-intensity interval training involves alternate bouts of high-intensity exercises and short periods of rest. HIIT can improve your metabolism and help you lose calories up to 24 hours after the workout (35).

HIIT is highly effective in fat loss, especially around the mid-section (36).  This training can help you lose weight in much lesser time as compared to endurance training.

25. Do standing abs workout

Standing ab exercises engage more muscles, improve your posture and burn more calories, as compared to the activities done while sitting or lying down (37).

They also help improve your breathing. These exercises don’t need any machines, so you can do them at home, office or gym without worrying about the dirty floors.

26. Walk everyday

Walking is a beneficial way to flatten abs. According to a 2014 study, walking is a safe and effective method of reducing belly fat (38). Experts recommend walking briskly for at least 30 to 40 minutes every day to minimize tummy flab and lose weight.

27. Strengthen your core

Abdominal exercises not only help you strengthen your abdominal muscles, but they also help prevent backaches. These muscles help to hold in your belly and maker you look slim. So, include ab exercises like plants, crunches, and pilates to your exercise routine.

Reduce stress

28. Increase your physical activity

Be more active and add more physical activity to your daily routine. Park further, walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, take a stroll during lunch break.

According to one study, ordinary daily activities like fidgeting, walking, and standing can help you burn up to 2000 extra calories per day (39).

29. Sleep well

Sufficient amount of sleep is vital for weight loss. Studies have shown that less than five hours of sleep for adults and less than 10 hours of sleep for adults can lead to weight gain (40).

Sleep deprivation can slow down your metabolic rate which can lead to weight gain.

According to a study by the University of Chicago, people who are sleep deprived tend to eat high-fat meals, and they also have difficulty in portion control.

30. Calm down

Stress is one of the most common reasons why people eat without being hungry. Women produce more cortisol in response to stress and thus gain belly fat (41).

So, managing stress is vital for losing belly fat. Try meditation, yoga or journaling to help manage your stress. If everything else fails, contact a counselor.

Final thoughts on how to get a flat stomach

It takes time to get rid of stubborn belly fat. However, if you eat right, exercise regularly and reduce stress by following the tips given above, you can get a flat stomach and look fit.

Achieving a flat stomach goes far beyond the gym. It also involves eating right, sleeping right & reducing stress to get rid of belly fat