14 Ways to Wake Up With Zero Belly
If I buy something online, I want it delivered immediately. If I order at the drive through, I don't want to idle while it's being whipped up. And if I take some steps to get a flat stomach, I want to see results—fast.
While researching my new book, I stumbled upon a fascinating study showing rapid weight loss is the key to permanent weight loss. Slow and steady may win the race, but most of us drop out long before the race is run. That's why, compliments of Zero Belly Diet, I developed these 14 things you can do today to wake up thinner tomorrow.
Are you going to lose 10 pounds in the next 24 hours? Of course not. But you can take steps today that will give you visible results tomorrow. Don't believe me? Then ask Rosie O'Donnell. I took her through a brief Zero Belly workout and two days later doctors told her that her stomach muscles had tightened dramatically. "I'll look like Pink in about three weeks," she jokingly exclaimed on The View.
Blend a Plant- Protein Smoothie
Zero Belly Diet test panelist Bryan Wilson, a 29-year-old accountant, lost 19 pounds and an astounding 6 inches from his waist in just six weeks on the program, and he attributes his success to the Zero Belly shake recipes in the program. "I love the shakes. I added them to my diet, and almost immediately I lost the bloat," Bryan said. "I'm a sweet craver, and the shakes were an awesome alternative to bowls and bowls of ice cream I would have had."
Protein drinks are great ways to get a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition into a delicious, simple snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. And the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat.
Mix Up a Magic Elixir
Start each day by making a large pitcher of "spa water"—that's water filled with sliced whole lemons, oranges or grapefruits—and make a point of sipping your way through at least 8 glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant d-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization. (It's also one of the vital components to our exclusive one day detox.)
Go Wild with Salmon
Lean protein like fish is a great way to fight fat and boost your metabolism. But the salmon you get at the local market might not be the best bet for your belly. The cold-water fish has a well-deserved reputation for packing plenty of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids—1,253 mg of the good stuff, and just 114 mg of inflammatory, belly-busting omega 6s. But the farmed variety—and 90 percent of what we eat today is farmed—has a very different story to tell. It packs a whopping 1,900 mg of unhealthy omega-6s.
Crunch the Right Nuts
Nuts are high in fat, which may seem counterproductive if you're trying to lose it; but eating a moderate portion of monounsaturated fat, like the kind found in Blue Diamond's 100-calorie packs of whole almonds, can ward off the munchies and keep you full. The saving grace here is the calorie-controlled serving, which stops you from overindulging.
Nature's candy, dried fruit can be a great source of nutrients and fiber. But it can also be a source of gas for those who suffer from fructose malabsorption, which occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing the natural sugar. Dried fruits are particularly high in fructose; fresh stone fruits, citrus fruits, and berries are safer options for those with sensitivity. (Bonus: they also make our list of best fruit for weight loss.)
Buy the Right Almond Milk
Almond milk is a better option than cow's milk for those with lactose sensitivity, which is why I recommend it as a great base for Zero Belly drinks. But you may be undermining your goals if you're buying a brand with the thickening agent carrageenan. Derived from seaweed, carrageenan has been linked to ulcers, inflammation, and other gastrointestinal problems. If you notice bloating after drinking almond milk, consider switching brands. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods 365, and Westsoy make versions without carrageenan.
Can the Canned Soup
Good for the soul but potentially bad for the stomach, soup can hide sky-high sodium counts that may lead to water retention and temporary weight gain. (Canned chilis, in particular, can have more than 800 mg of sodium per serving.) When you overload your system with salt, your kidneys can't keep up; salt that would otherwise be flushed away has to sit in your bloodstream, where it attracts water, causing increased blood pressure and bloating. Look to stay under 500 mg if possible; Campbell's Healthy Request, Progresso Light and V8 all make reasonable options.
Do the Thruster
This is the exercise I took Rosie through. It's a simple, full-body exercise you need to do for just 8 minutes. But once you do it, you'll discover a tightening around your core that proves to you it's working. You'll look and feel leaner the next day, but over time you'll really begin to drop serious pounds.
Standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a pair of dumbbells by your shoulders, your palms facing each other.
Lower your hips into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. In one motion, extend your legs to stand up tall while driving the dumbbells overhead. Pause, then lower the dumbbells to the starting position. Do as many as you can until you start to get tired—then pause, and then keep going until you hit the 8-minute mark. Be sure to take it slowly at first. Over time, try to improve your number of total reps—or use slightly heavier dumbbells—with this full-body workout that gets your heart pumping, too!
Take a Shower Before Bed
Sleep is induced in part by the process of your body cooling down; that's why we don't sleep too well when the weather's hot and muggy. When you take a shower before bed, you activate your body's thermostat, causing you to fall asleep faster. Better sleep means lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol—which also happens to be a fat-storage hormone. (Cooling down also helps stimulate brown fat, a kind of fat found at the back of the neck that helps your body burn more calories—up to 275 in three hours, in fact!)
Have Oatmeal For Breakfast
Cook up some quick oats, the toss in some dark chocolate shavings, some berries, some nuts, and a dash of cinnamon. Together these ingredients work with the happy bacteria in your colon to produce butyrate, a fatty acid your body needs. Higher levels of butyrate reduce inflammation in your body and help reduce insulin resistance as well. Less inflammation means less bloating and a flat stomach.
Toss the Takeout Menu
I love a handful of salty popcorn or the occasional chicken wing blowout, but some of the foods out there are so laden with salt, you can't help but wake up bloated and feeling fat tomorrow. At P.F. Chang's, an order of Dan Dan Noodles and some Hot & Sour Soup will cost you—gird your arteries—14,170 milligrams of sodium. That's 7 days' worth, assuming you ate absolutely nothing else the rest of the week. Chinese and Mexican food are the worst offenders. If you have a big day tomorrow, use Zero Belly to cook at home—or master P.F.'s menu. (Swap the hot & sour for P.F. Chang's Egg Drop Soup and you'll save 7,390 milligrams of sodium alone!)
Check Your Gums
No, not the pink things that hold your teeth in place. Your sugarless gum may be causing your belly to swell. Studies show that sorbitol, a sugar alcohol used in most sugarless gums, takes a relatively long time to digest, and undigested sorbitol in your small intestine acts as a hothouse for the fermentation of bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. Additionally, each chomp sends a signal to your brain, triggering hunger hormones. Stick to just a few pieces a day, or try a product like Simply Gum, which is made with only 6 ingredients, none of them artificial.
Toss The 'Energy' Bars
Why don't they just call them what they really are—calorie bars? Energy bars cause you to gain weight fast in four ways. First, they often contain lots of whey, which can cause bloating in those with lactose issues. Second, many are packed with soybeans, which some folks find just as gas-inducing as the other magical fruits. Third, a lot of chemicals go into many brands, and studies show that people who eat processed foods gain more weight than people who eat whole foods, even when calories are equal. And of course, they carry the health halo when most of them are just glorified candy bars. Cut these 300 or more calories to finally get the flat stomach you've been dreaming of.
Quit Sugary Yogurt
I cut sugary yogurt out of my diet for several reasons. First, while yogurt has a reputation for fostering healthy belly bacteria, the reality is quite different. Most yogurts are so high in added sugar that they actually feed the bad bacteria in your gut. They're also high in lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy that many of us have trouble breaking down. The combination of the two can cause bloating and inflammation that can make you look and feel fatter than you are. If you're opting for a container, look for one with 8 grams of sugar or less, such as Chobani Simply 100's blueberry flavor, which is one of my favorites.