The secret to achieving a flat stomach
A quick assessment of fitness magazine covers in the newsagent leaves me in no doubt that, far from being interested in chiselling a six-pack into ourselves, we’re downright obsessed. Photo: Getty
At would be fair to say that if there was one body part men and women lusted over equally, it would have to be abdominals, preferably abdominals unconcealed by a layer of subcutaneous fat. I’m not talking about lusting over other people’s abdominals – although, judging by the chorus of “Phwoaaaar!” that us girls usually emit when we’re dribbling over a photo of Ryan Gosling with his shirt off, it could be. I’m talking about our own midsection, core, abs – whatever we choose to call that (hopefully) sinewy conduit from pelvis to ribs.
A quick assessment of fitness magazine covers in the newsagent leaves me in no doubt that, far from being interested in chiselling a six-pack into ourselves, we’re downright obsessed. Every cover features a model sporting a pool-table stomach and offers the ultimate promise: “Killer Six-pack in Five Minutes a Day!” “Bitchin’ Abs – Here’s How!”
Now, the bad news.
If you’re in the market for a flat stomach, no amount of sit-ups, assisted by any number of ab machines, will get it for you. Yes, they will work and improve your abdominals, but there are wider issues to take into consideration before you shell out your hard-earned for fitness equipment destined to end up in garage sales.
If you want a flat stomach, the best advice – in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise (of course) – is to get a good night’s sleep. And then to consciously de-stress your home and work environment, and to add stress-relieving activities into your lifestyle.
When we get stressed our adrenal gland, located on top of our kidneys, pumps out a goodly measure of hormones – mainly cortisol – to cope with the situation. Cortisol ramps up your brain’s use of glucose while squirting a bit extra into your bloodstream for good measure. It temporarily suppresses the non-essential bodily functions like the immune, digestive and reproductive systems, to enable us to be primed for the crisis at hand. It’s self-regulating, so when the crisis is over, the body returns to normal.
Trouble is, in today’s world the stresses are constant. The prolonged increase in cortisol levels in your bloodstream results in increased fat deposits around your middle, concealing the transverse abdominus you’ve been honing on the Acme Ab-Orama for the past six weeks. Can you see where this is heading? My flat stomach formula?
De-stress, eat well, exercise regularly.
The dreaded stomach bloat is the flat tum aspirant’s nemesis. Don’t eat large meals, and avoid fried foods, creamy dishes, soft drinks, white breads, salty foods, processed meats and smallgoods.