The Flat Tummy Myth
How Your Stomach Lies to Your Eyes
How your stomach appears when you look down, in the mirror, or from the side is based on many more factors than your body fat or body type.
Your tummy’s appearance can be affected by things like: anterior pelvic tilt, certain foods, fluid retention, and the way your body responds to exercise.
That being the case, it can be very beneficial and empowering to learn how to make the most of these factors in order to achieve your goal physique.
The Key to Your Flattest Stomach
Unfortunately, spot reduction is not real.
While the idea sounds legitimate enough, you will not get a flat stomach by performing thousands of crunches. You have definitely worked hard and you’ve probably built some strength, but you won’t wake up with abs.
Much of it comes down to nutrition. You may never have a perfectly flat stomach, but if you avoid foods that induce bloating or fluid retention, decide to keep your calorie count at or below maintenance for your body type, and consistently stay hydrated throughout the day, you are well on your way to your goal physique.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt: How it Affects Your Stomach’s Appearance
Anterior pelvic tilt is when your pelvis is tilted forward towards your toes, rather than straight up and down.
This causes both your butt and stomach to stick out, enlarging the appearance of each. This often occurs because of tightness in the hip flexors, quadriceps, and spinal erectors.
That being the case, your goal should then be to stretch your hip flexors, quadriceps, and spinal erectors.
Another factor contributing to this phenomenon is weak glutes and hamstrings. Because of this, you should also work to strengthen these muscles.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt Correction Routine
Perform this routine when your body is already warmed up in order to keep from getting injured.
- Lunges 3×30 seconds
- Prone quadriceps stretch 3×30 seconds
- Cat and Cow 3×10 repetitions
- Glute bridges 3×10 repetitions
- Plank 3×10-30 seconds
Foods That Make Your Stomach Look Big
Ever finished a meal and feel pregnant afterwards? (Ignore this question if you are, indeed, pregnant.) This happens because of the way your body reacts to certain foods. Certain foods can cause bloating and water retention, which makes your stomach appear larger than it actually is.
In order to remedy this, avoid the following groups of food when you’re heading out for a day at the beach or planning on being in a situation where you want to look your best.
- Gluten: This includes wheat, rye, barley, and anything else that contains these grains. Some examples are: flour, pasta, bread, tortillas, beer, cereal, cookies, muffins, etc. Foods containing gluten can cause bloating in individuals who are either allergic or sensitive to it.
- Dairy: Many individuals are lactose-intolerant without fully realizing it. The lactose in milk can cause your stomach to bloat, making it appear larger than it is.
- Soda: The gases from the carbonation in these drinks can build up in your stomach, leading to bloating.
- Sugar-free foods: These foods often contain sugar alcohols, which can lead to bloating.
- High-sodium foods: Sodium enables your body to hold onto water. This fluid retention can make your muscles look less defined and cause your stomach to appear bigger than it really is.
How Exercise Can Lead to a Big Stomach
Having your stomach bigger from exercise seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? Most people exercise to be free of a bloated-looking stomach. However, exercise can sometimes be the culprit of a bulging tummy.
When you first begin exercising, this is somewhat inevitable. Exercise breaks down muscle fibers through hypertrophy and then builds them back up to be stronger, and often, bigger.
However, don’t fear. You can benefit from keeping your calories at or below maintenance level, and beyond the initial burst of growth, your abs will not swell up any larger.
If you are still eating more calories than you burn once you begin exercising, you may have trouble losing fat. Generally, fat can sit on top of the abdominal muscles. Pair this with the fact that the size of your abs is increasing and you are likely going to have a larger-looking stomach than you initially expected.
The remedy for this is simple. Consider dropping your calories slightly below maintenance level, eat the right foods and that fat will begin to disappear.