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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Fight that flabby belly!

3 ways for a taut tummy
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - April 24, 2011
By: Sheila Lim
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Fight that flabby belly!

Which body feature of celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Fergie and Giselle Bundchen is the envy of every woman? Answer: fab abs. Entertainers and models like them must always be in perfect form to stay on top. But make no mistake about it – they have to work extremely hard to attain those fab abs!

Maintaining flat abs gets even more difficult as we age. When we reach our 30s, our metabolic rate slows down. If our calorie intake remains the same, the excess energy produced is stored as fat, particularly in areas like the belly, hips, thighs and upper arms. Our bodies also undergo various biological changes as we age, and women in their late 30s experience fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes cause the body to store even more fat in the midsection.

Lose fat

The only way to fab abs is to reduce your calorie intake and lose overall body fat.  In short – eat less and exercise more.

If you think that religiously doing a hundred sit-ups and crunches a day is all it takes, you’re very much mistaken. This only tones your abs and cannot get rid of the layer of fat lying on top of the abdominal muscles.

You’ll see better results if you do a series of exercises that work all the different groups of abdominal muscles – the sagittal plane (bend forward), the frontal plane (bend to the side), the transverse plane (twist your torso), as well as shed excess fat through some form of vigorous aerobic exercise and weight training for at least 30 minutes, three to four times a week. Aerobic exercises such as skipping, cycling, jogging and swimming help increase the metabolic rate, which in turn causes the body to use up the excess energy stored as fat.

Cut calories

If you’re over 30, aim to eat about 200 calories less per day than you used to, and burn 250 more calories through exercise.

Include sufficient fibre (at least 25g) in your daily diet. As high-fibre foods supply plenty of bulk without adding too many calories, they’ll keep you feeling full longer. You should therefore eat less. For best results, increase your fibre intake slowly over the course of one month, and drink plenty of water to regulate your digestive system. You can obtain fibre from fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods.

Avoid excessive drinking. The frequent intake of alcoholic drinks leads to the growth of “beer bellies” because alcohol is loaded with calories. Just like any other calorie-laden foods, alcohol promotes weight gain when taken in excess.

Stand straight, breathe deep

Lying deep within the lower torso is a core muscle called the transverse abdominis; it acts as a natural weight belt that supports the lower back and keeps the pelvis aligned. Sucking in your tummy and maintaining an upright posture helps to tighten this abdominal muscle.  

Another simple way of tightening the abdominal muscles is to practise deep abdominal breathing exercises regularly.