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For all the effort you’ve put into toning it - and for all the cupcakes you’ve given up to maintain it - your midsection should be as rock-h...




For all the effort you’ve put into toning it - and for all the cupcakes you’ve given up to maintain it - your midsection should be as rock-hard as diamond and just as much fun to show off. So why does it seem like your quest for a sexy stomach always hits a bump… right about belly button level?

You’re not alone in feeling frustrated: 62 percent of women say the body part they’ve most self-conscious about is their tummy. But don’t give up hope - just change your thinking. Turns out, some of the old food advice you’ve been following for years may actually be working agains you. The latest research is full of new culinary strategies for shrinking your stomach (and dropping kilos all over).


1. Will eating smaller meals curb my hunger?


Contrary to what you’ve heard, the five small-meals-a-day mantra doesn’t work for everyone. The new thinking? You’ll eat healthiest if you eat your way - meaning, if you prefer substantial meals fewer time a day, there’s no reason to force yourself to do the opposite. But while the number of meals doesn’t matter, their size does. According to US researchers, the biggest problem with our eating behavior is that snacks have become meals and meals have become feasts. In the past 30 years, snack sizes have increased from 1500kj to a whopping 2400kj! When you consider that the average woman snack twice during each work day, you’re looking at a lot of extra kilojoules. In just tow weeks, these oversize bites - no matter how “healthy“ they are - can contribute to an extra 500g of fat. The takeaway: however many times you eat, always make sure that you’re keeping and eye on your portions.


2. How do I know which fats are okay to eat?


It’s been scientifically proven: eating fat helps you become slim. In fact, fatty foods should make up 20 to 35 percent of your total kilojoules. This, of course, isn’t an invitation to head over to the nearest fast-foo outlet. You have to include the right fats - primarily monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) like nuts, avocados and healthy oils - and stay away from processed foods that contain trans fats, such as baked goods. A report in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a MUFA-rich diet helped people lose small amounts of weight and body fat even when they didn’t chan their kilojoule intake. What’s more, dieters who took a high-fat approach needed 25 fewer days to lose five kilos than those who used a high-carb approach, according to US researchers - and that was on a diet  of 30 percent fat! So go ahead and indulge (in moderation) in fatty foods that are good for you body, including beef (topside and sirloin), pork eggs (yolks too) and reduced fat sour cream and cheese.


3. Is counting kilojoules the only way to guarantee a flat stomach?


What matters most for shedding belly fat boils down to kilojoules in versus kilojoules out. For sure, counting whose suckers at every meal will help you stay consistent with a healthy eating plan - but it isn’t necessary to lose weight. If worrying about every single kilojoule is stressing you out, put away the calculator (research shows that stress itself can cause you to overindulge). Instead, fill your plate with whole, energy-dense foods, such as lean protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Because they pack a lot of nutrition into comparatively few kilojoules, you’re able to eat more and feel full without expanding your waistline.


4. Do carbs cause tummy fat?


Despite what nearly every diet plan in the late Nineties led you to believe, carbs are not your enemy. Yes, if you overeat them, you’ll gain - just as with any other food. But when it comes to weight loss, your total kilojoule balance is what matter. If you eat more than you burn, the unused kilojoules turn into fat that gets stored in your tummy (and elsewhere), regardless of what particular foods those kilojoules come from. If just the sight of carb-heavy dishes melts your willpower into goo, avoiding them is the foolproof way to control your weight. More realistic, perhaps, is making sure most of your carbs are the complex kind found in whole grains and raw fruit and vegetables. Because these tend to fill you with fibre, it’s easier to eat them in controlled portions than it is with highly processed refined carbs like white bread, pasta and rice.


5. I’m losing kilos but not centimetres. What’s wrong?


This usually means you’re not strength training or eating enough protein. Pick up some weights and add 150g of lean meat to your post-workout meal, or mix two scoops of protein powder into a smoothie or yoghurt. Each option yields about 40g of protein, the amount you need to lose fat while preserving metabolism-revving muscle.


6. Can I have dairy and still lose  my tum?


Absolutely, In fact, cutting back on the amount of dairy you eat can signal your body to make more fat cells, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. When you don’t have enough calcium in your body, it tries to hold on to what’s there. This triggers the release of a compound called calcitriol, which increases the production of fat cells. If you want fewer fat cells, eating extra calcium suppresses calcitriol, which breaks down fat and makes your fat cells leaner and your tummy flatter. So enjoy milk, yoghurt or a little cheese, but because dairy does tend to be high in kilojoules, keep your portions small or stick to low-fat varieties. (The recommended daily intake for women is three cups of low-fat dairy.)


7. Aren’t protein shakes just for bodybuilders?


Don’t be fooled by labels featuring ripped, bulked-up dudes. Anyone, jock or not, can benefit form the belly-flattening power of protein powder. If you’re not lactose intolerant, opt for whey protein over soy: according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, participants whose diets included whey protein for 23 weeks had less body fat and a smaller waist than those who consumed soy protein. In fact, as strange as it sounds, dieters who included whey protein in their eating plan doubled their fat loss compared with those who ate the same number of kilojoules but didn’t drink any shakes. To reveal your abs once and for all, include a whey protein shake once a day or at least few times a week.


8. Do artificial sweetener really pack on kilos?


Nutritionist debate this topic as vigorously as politicians argue about e-tolls. There’s no direct link between consuming these sweeteners and gaining weight. Still, some research indicates that by providing you with the taste of a high-kilojoule meal without delivering the kilojoules your brain expects, diet foods made with chemicals, artificial sweeteners and preservatives can actually leave you craving more food, which causes you to overeat. And another reason to tone down your diet cooldrinkx habit. US scientist found that diet drinks and some sugar alternative may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, which results in higher levels of tummy fat, blood sugar and cholesterol. So it’s a good idea to limit your intake to three or four servings a day at most  (one sachet of sugar substitute in your coffee is one serving, one can of diet cooldrinkx in two). If your diet consists mainly of real foods, you can enjoy a little sweetener, where it’s artificial or not.


9.  always gorge after a workout. Bad habit?


This is actually the best time to have your largest meal of the day - as long as it’s reasonable size and not a full-on feast. That’s because you’ve just reduced your body’s fuel reserves and food can help aid your recovery. Plus, when your body is in a recovery state, incoming kilojoules and nutrients stand a better change of being absorbed by muscle tissue instead of being stored in fat tissue. If your goal is to curb uncontrollable hunger after a workout, try lean beef, poultry or fish - protein-rich foods tend to be very filling. Pair that meat with whole-food, high-fibre carbohydrate sources such as beans. Fibre is another element that can help you feel satiated quickly.