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Give Back With Our 30 Days to a Flat Belly Holiday Special

This holiday season, POPSUGAR wants to help you give back! That's why, starting today, when you buy our 30 Days to a Flat Belly fitness video program, $2 from your purchase will be donated to Futures Without Violence. You can buy it today at this link. And why stop at just one? We also have the option to buy the program for a friend, so you can hit your fitness goals together.

This Move Will Help You Feel Your Abs Burn Like Never Before

A toned midsection can be hard to achieve unless you've got the right mix of exercise and diet. While exercise alone won't carve out a six-pack, the Russian twist can help! Coupled alongside a healthy diet and solid workout routine, this core-carving exercise is just what's needed to make your abs pop.

Warning: you might find yourself shouting obscenities after a few rounds of Russian twists because of how much you can feel it working deep in the core muscles. "The Russian twist is an excellent ab exercise because it doesn't just work the rectus abdominis (front ab muscles), it also incorporates the transverse abdominal muscle (TVA)," said Heather Neff, CPT. "The TVA is a deep muscle that runs along the sides [of the midsection] just under the obliques." When you strengthen and work the TVA, it acts just like a girdle and pulls everything inward, giving you that appearance of a flat belly.

Along with the TVA and rectus abdominis, the Russian twist incorporates the obliques and lower back as well. This exercise is everything you need for a tighter core in 360 degrees!

A Personal Trainer Wants You to Know This About Her “Flat” Belly

Madalin Giorgetta is a certified personal trainer who felt compelled to post these side-by-side photos for two important reasons. One has to do with how her belly looks. For all the women who ask Maddy if she has a flat stomach all the time, she shares, "No, no I don't 🙈 My stomach is flat for about 10% of the day," and she mostly looks like the photo on the left.

Belly bloat wasn't the only reason for this Instagram post. Maddy wanted to address a more serious topic: social media and body image. She said that a woman recently commented on one of her Instagram photos, saying she was going to unfollow Maddy because she made her feel bad about her body.

You'd think Maddy would have been upset or offended, but she felt "it was not malicious or mean, it was just honest." She went on to say, "If I ever made anyone feel bad about their body, I want them to unfollow me, because I only follow women who make me feel good ❤️."

Maddy told POPSUGAR, "I love following women on Instagram who have a similar body to my own. Long lean legs and big boobs will never be attainable for me, so I like to follow women who look similar to me and who project wicked self-confidence. I think, if they can be sexy and look like that, why can't I?" She said it's important to surround yourself with men and women who inspire, motivate, and lift you up, and "help you to accept the body that you were born with."

With that said, it may be time to take a closer look at your Instagram feed to make sure all the accounts you follow are supporting and encouraging your goals, not making you feel insecure or bad about them.

I Cut This Out of My Diet to Lose Weight and, No, It’s Not Carbs

I'd always believed that things like coconut oil and olive oil were part of a healthy diet. I ate them regularly with just about every meal - I cooked with olive oil, spread coconut oil on my toast, and drizzled avocado oil on my hummus. A few months ago, though, I learned that oil is technically not part of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I was shocked to learn that there was virtually no nutritional value to the oils that we're so used to eating on a daily basis.

Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietician and health and fitness expert, confirmed that this is true. "Oils are a processed food," Hever told POPSUGAR. "Basically, the fat is stripped out of the intact food (be it an olive, coconut, or avocado), leaving behind the fiber and many other nutrients."

Hever also reminded us that oil "contains 120 calories per tablespoon, almost 2,000 calories per cup!" But even worse than that, there isn't any satiating fiber in oil, so eating oil regularly is an easy way to consume way more calories than your body needs - and that can quickly lead to weight gain.

This was hard for me to believe at first, but I decided to go cold turkey and cut out all oil from my diet. It was strange at the beginning. I thought I wouldn't be able to roast vegetables or even sauté an onion. You'd be surprised, though, to find that lots of foods release their own natural water or oil, so you don't even need something like olive oil to cook most things. For example, onion naturally contains oil that's responsible for its smell and taste, and you can see it being slightly released when you sauté it in a pan with nothing else. Besides, if I felt like some foods were sticking too much to the pan while I was cooking, I would simply add a little bit of water.

After two months of eating no oil at home and very little oil while eating out, I noticed my belly was a bit flatter than it was before. It was a small change, but it was a gradual one that became more noticeable over time.

That being said, healthy fats are an important part of our diet, and Hever says we shouldn't ignore them completely. "The best food sources of healthy, disease-fighting fats are nuts and seeds," she said. "We only need about one to two ounces a day to meet our essential fatty acid requirements." You can also opt in for some avocado in your dish rather than cooking with oil.

I upped my intake of avocado after I gave up oil, while also logging in all my food to the macros app on my phone to make sure I was getting enough healthy fats. Between avocado, almonds, and chia and flaxseeds, I was getting more than enough of what I needed.

"Because of their high caloric density, I recommend minimizing intake of oils," Hever said. It could save you a lot of empty calories that you really don't need.

Hop on the ACV Train With This Protein-Packed Flat-Belly Smoothie

One ingredient all the experts hail as a supporting weight loss is apple cider vinegar, affectionately called ACV. But if your lips pucker at the thought of adding ACV to your water or doing shots (actually you shouldn't do these because the acidity can damage both your esophagus and tooth enamel, then you'll love this smooth and creamy, cinnamony smoothie recipe.

You won't be able to taste the ACV one bit. All your taste buds will focus on is the naturally sweet high-in-potassium banana that can help regulate sodium levels and prevent water retention, as well as blueberries, that have been shown to help diminish belly fat. The fresh ginger can improve digestion, reducing a puffy belly, and the fiber in the leafy greens, chia seeds, and almond butter, as well as the water will keep things moving along and prevent constipation.

And since chia seeds are high in MUFAS, they'll help you feel fuller longer, preventing overeating that can lead to bloating and weight gain. Lastly, while probiotics from yogurt are also flat-belly winners, since dairy and soy can cause digestive upset, this smoothie is made with almond milk yogurt. Add a touch of cinnamon for sweetness and to fire up your metabolism and this 395-calorie smoothie is the perfect way to start your day.

Blueberry Banana Cinnamon ACV Smoothie

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup kale or spinach
  2. 1 frozen banana
  3. 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  4. 1/4 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
  5. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  6. 1 tablespoon almond butter
  7. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  8. 5.3 oz container plain almond milk yogurt (Silk or Kite Hill)
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until smooth.
  2. Enjoy immediately.

Nutrition

Calories per serving
395

This Fall Flat-Belly Salad Celebrates the Rainbow With Roasted Veggies

Rainbows aren't just for Lisa Frank fans. When it comes to eating healthy, plating up a rainbow of foods ensures you're getting a variety of vitamins and minerals - different antioxidants create the different colors in fruits and veggies. This salad features a rainbow of roasted veggies loaded with flat-belly benefits for a nutritional win win.

Roasted Vegetable Flat-Belly Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:
1/2 red pepper, julienned
3 petit carrots, quartered lengthwise
1/4 acorn squash, sliced thin
1/2 yellow squash, sliced into rounds
1/2 zucchini, sliced into rounds
1/4 red onion, large dice
4 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 boneless chicken breast, butterflied
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups spinach
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt, non-fat
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chives, chopped
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut vegetables into similar sized thickness and lay vegetables out on baking sheet. Break up thyme and sprinkle on top of the vegetables. Roast vegetables for 35 minutes until soft and cooked through.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, heat up a skillet over medium heat and add coconut oil. Slice chicken breast in half lengthwise and season lightly with pepper. Cook chicken breast for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from heat and let cool. Cut chicken in half and slice.
  4. To make dressing: Mix together yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, chives, turmeric, cayenne, and water until thin enough to pour. If it's a little thick, add a touch more water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time.
  5. Assemble 2 plates with spinach, top with roasted vegetables, 4 ounces of chicken, and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

Use This 1 At-Home Move to Banish Lower Belly Fat

Let's talk about lower belly fat. It's OK. Really. Let it out. While it is impossible to spot-reduce a certain area of the body, adding muscle and exercising can be very effective in reducing overall body fat - especially in the lower belly. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn naturally, even while at rest. Doing moves that target your lower abs may sometimes prove difficult and time-consuming, but not if you pick the right one. Here's the move you need in your flat-belly arsenal today!

About the Lower Trunk Twist
The lower trunk twist is arguably the greatest abdominal exercise not only for the lower belly region, but it also targets the obliques (the muscles that run up and down the sides of the stomach), lower back, and hip flexors. Want more reason to try it? The lower trunk twist also engages the quads and groin and is great for flexibility, so there are many benefits to doing this exercise. But we know the main reason you're here is to lose those last couple inches off the bottom of your gut, so here's how to do the move to get a flat belly ASAP!

How to Perform the Lower Trunk Twist

  • Step 1: Lie on your back and place your arms to the sides with your palms down.
  • Step 2: Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  • Step 3: Raise your knees up to a 90 degree angle.
  • Step 4: Engage your core and slowly rotate your knees towards the right until they are just a few inches above the floor (but don't let them hit the floor on the way down - that will lessen the contraction of your muscles).
  • Step 5: Keeping your core engaged, rotate your knees to the left the same way as above. That is one full rep.

Make sure that your back is straight and both your shoulder blades are touching the floor the entire time. According to Kendall Wood, NASM CPT, and author of Core Fitness Solution, "Use your hands as anchors to keep your knees from falling to the floor, but remember that your abs should be doing most of the work - so don't hold your breath!" If you want to kick up the intensity a notch, use ankle weights or hold a medicine ball between your knees.

With this move in your routine, you're sure to see results soon. Make sure to incorporate this exercise into your normal abdominal routine by doing 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a rest of up to 60 seconds in between each set. Have fun with it and be sure to try the more challenging variations as you advance.