So many questions remain unanswered in our world. How were the pyramids built? Where does the second sock in a pair go missing? Do aliens exist? And of course, one more question that consistently seems to allude us: how can you get a gorgeously toned tummy?
Not only is a toned stomach a fitness goal for a lot of women out there, but a strong, stable core is also important for health in general. Your core muscles are utilized more than you might realize. When you bend over to tie your shoe or go to move a heavy box, you use those abdominal muscles for stabilization. For example, think about when you do your housework and all the times you have to twist, reach, or bend – your core plays a big part in those movements (1)! That’s why learning how to tone your tummy matters! It’s not just for vanity! This is your day-to-day health.
Whatever your reason for wanting a super toned tummy, we’re here to help you. Getting to this goal is really a two-fold process, and in this article we dish on all of it. Here is our approach to getting the midsection of your dreams.
Building and Strengthening Your Ab Muscles
Building a strong core is step one. That “tone” is actually your core muscles. But before you can show them off, you have to create them. This means doing exercises to build a solid core.
There are a ton of core-specific moves that you can start adding to your workout routine today. The best part? Most of them don’t require any equipment, so all you need is yourself, some room on a floor, and a little motivation.
- Leg Raises
- Boat Pose
- Heel touches
- Russian Twist
- Flutter Kicks
Try doing 3 or 4 sets of each exercise focusing on reaching 12-15 repetitions. We love that all of these moves can be easily done from a mat at home.
Having a great exercise routine is also important in overall fat loss. So if fat loss is your goal, add some core specific exercise to your already-existing routine. You can put some attention towards toning your stomach while still working on your other fitness goals too.
Revealing Your Hard Work
So you’ve been working on building and strengthening your ab muscles, and now you want to see what you’ve got. You’re asking, “How do I lose my tummy?” Part two is all about revealing your hard work through really great eating habits.
One of the best things you can do to achieve a toned stomach is to work on cultivating a healthy gut microbiome. Having a healthy gut microbiome is important in reducing bloating (2), which can not only cause discomfort but it can also distort the way your midsection actually looks.
If you want to improve on your gut health, there are a couple of easy things you can add right into your diet to help. Naturally fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir are great for gut health. Make sure when you are buying kimchi and sauerkraut that you find it in the refrigerated section of your grocer, and not the pickled stuff on the grocery shelf, which won’t offer the same benefits.
Another reason to focus on exercise and diet together: one study found that obese rats who exercised had a healthier gut microbiome than rats who did not (3). This supports the idea that exercise promotes a healthy gut, further supporting the digestive process as well as reducing inflammation and bloating.
Two other keys for enhancing digestion: fiber and water. In digestion, fiber becomes the bulk of your stool and helps with detoxification. Without water, your digestion has a hard time moving along, and you may feel constipated. For that reason, increase both of these things together.
Consider other foods that throw your gut out of balance. Do you feel gassy and bloated after consuming dairy? Do you have trouble pooping for days after eating bread? Making conscious connections between the foods that make you feel good, and not so good, will help you eliminate the foods that are bothering your stomach, wreaking havoc on your gut, and keeping you from meeting your goal.
Don’t forget of course to continue to eat a really wholesome, nutrient-dense diet. In terms of diet, there is nothing you can do to lose weight in your midsection specifically. But don’t be discouraged: significant overall fat loss will eventually contribute to a change in your most stubborn areas, including your tummy.
If you feel like you’ve tried exercise and diet and nothing has worked, check your cortisol. Chronically high cortisol promotes fat storage, especially in the midsection area (4). Reducing the stress in your life might mean taking more time for yourself or practicing better self-care.
You can also try incorporating adaptogens into your diet. Adaptogens are just what they sound like: they help your body adapt to stress by helping to regulate cortisol levels. A couple of examples are maca, rhodiola, and ashwaghanda. Most adaptogens can be purchased in powder form and easily added to elixirs or smoothies.
The takeaway here is that there are two aspects in toning your tummy: exercise and diet. Your gut microbiome, digestion, and cortisol levels also play a role. Keep in mind that when it comes to creating a bangin’ midsection, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take time to get there, but with consistency and dedication we know you can meet your goal.