Curejoy Expert Dipti Mothay Explains:
Exercises that impact the abdominal muscles (also known as the stomach muscles or “abs”) are known as abdominal exercises. These exercises are helpful for building the abdominal muscles and also for reducing the abdominal fat to some extent.
Factors That Determine Flat Abs
Your potential for flat abs depends to some degree on genetics. If you have a genetic tendency to store fat in your abdominal region you’ll have a harder time than someone who mostly stores fat on their hips and thighs.
High Percentage of Body Fat
For some people, the problem is too much body fat. If your body fat percentage is above 15% and you tend to store fat in your tummy, your abs may not look defined no matter how many ab exercises you do (1).
Wrong Dietary Choices
You can do everything else right and still not get the desirable abs if you’re negligent with your diet. There’s some evidence that unsaturated fats are less likely to be stored in your abdominal area than saturated fat (2).
Stress and Lack of Sleep
Stress and lack of sleep elevate your cortisol levels. Cortisol is aptly named the “stress hormone” because it increases when you’re under mental or physical stress. Cortisol mobilizes fat and sends it to your abdominal region where it becomes belly fat.
Are Exercises Sufficient to Get Flat Abs?
A 2011 study (3) found that to achieve reduction in abdominal fat, a deficit in energy expenditure and caloric intake must be created – abdominal exercises alone are not enough to reduce abdominal fat and the girth of the abdomen.
Having said that, there are several benefits associated with stomach exercises beyond getting a flat belly or a six-pack abs. Doing regular stomach exercises helps your body to attain a better posture because your muscles will be stronger. Your lower back will be more flexible, and your digestion will also improve through regular ab exercise (4).
Guidelines to Improve the Appearance of Your Abs
It would probably be fair to say that a combination of diet control and exercise would result in faster reduction of abdominal fat than just exercise alone.
Do regular core and posture building exercises
If you’re looking for killer abs, don’t waste your time focusing solely on crunches. Instead focus on full-body exercises and strengthen your core – include squats, overhead presses, planks, dumbbell side bends, back extensions, shoulder rolls and kneeling stretches to your workout routine.
Give your muscles a good stretch while toning at the same time with yoga. Practice Uthkatasana (Chair pose), Naukasana (Bow pose) and Veerbhadrasana (Warrior pose).
Udvartana is an Ayurveda massage treatment used for toning and strengthening the body with application of oils along with a combination of prescribed herbal powders.
Stress plays an important role in both weight gain and weight loss. Take a few minutes each day to relax. Try meditation, massage techniques or just indulge in a hobby to reduce stress.
Include high fiber food
The best things to eat include foods high in fiber such as whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables. Add apples, green beans, sweet potatoes, raspberries, strawberries, chickpeas and pumpkins to your diet.
Drink to detox
It’s not just the foods you eat — consuming fluids can help de-bloat and flatten your tummy. Make infusions like lemon water and mint, apple and cinnamon water, tangerine and strawberry infused water to stimulate weight loss.
- Len Kravitz, Super Abs Resource Manual.
- Abdominal fat accumulation prevented by unsaturated fat, Science Daily.
- Vispute, Sachin S, Smith, John D, Lecheminant, James D, Hurley, Kimberly S (2011), “The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat”, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
- H P F Peters et al. 2001, Potential benefits and hazards of physical activity and exercise on the gastrointestinal tract.