Abs. Like 40-foot yachts, Nobel prizes, or the red carpet at the Academy Awards, they’re goals we all dream of attaining, but way back at the base of our skulls, we know they’re not realistic.
Except, that’s not entirely true. You may not have obscene wealth, scientific genius, or Jennifer Lawrence’s chutzpah. But abs? You’ve got those already—they’re just out of sight right now, like a couple of cousins you haven’t seen since childhood who would just love to reunite. Sure, it will take a little effort, but it’s hardly impossible.
In fact, a series of changes to your daily life—changes that take only a few minutes each—can add up to some dramatic midsection remodeling. Here are 7 ways to get abs in 7 minutes a day. Try them all and you’ll soon be reunited with those long-lost ripples of yore. And while you’re at it, check out these 14 Ways to Wake Up With Zero Belly.
7-Minute Ab Solution #1: Make a Zero Belly Salad
The idea that eating salad on a regular basis will help you lose belly fat has probably already been debunked by—well, you. Because if you eat salads at restaurants, you could be enjoying such “diet” treats as IHOP’s Crispy Chicken & Spinach Salad (1,280 calories!) or California Pizza Kitchen’s Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad (1,250 calories!). That’s like eating a Burger King Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe—and then eating three more! And homemade salads often aren’t much better, especially when commercial dressings can contain 120 calories or more per serving, and most use water and sugar as their first two ingredients.
But make your own dressing at home and salads can turn into a serious weapon for weight loss. One study among pre-diabetics found the addition of 2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar with a high-carb meal reduced the subsequent rise in blood sugar by 34 percent—meaning your body is less likely to store calories as fat. Shake up this recipe in a mason jar, and you’ll have delicious, additive-free dressing for the week!
ZERO BELLY VINAIGRETTE
Yield: 1 cup, about 16 servings
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. Store in fridge and shake before serving.
7-Minute Ab Solution #2: Make a Protein Swap
In a 2015 study in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, researchers discovered that patients who ingested higher amounts of vegetable protein were far less susceptible to metabolic syndrome (a disease that ought to be renamed “diabolic syndrome”—it’s basically a combination of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and obesity). That means eating whole foods from vegetables—and supplementing with vegan protein powder—is one of the best ways to keep extra weight at bay. A second study in Nutrition Journal found that “plant protein intakes may play a role in preventing obesity.”
Zero Belly Drinks are made specifically with plant protein, but to add more into your day, focus on vegetable protein sources like lentils, hemp or chia seeds, quinoa, nuts, seeds and beans. Or try adding spirulina to your smoothies; it’s one of the few plant foods that are mostly protein by weight (about 70 percent). Plant protein is a key part of The Best Weight-Loss Smoothie Recipe Ever.
7-Minute Ab Solution #3: Call Merlot the Magician
Have a glass of red wine or two a week. It could help you burn fat better, according to a 2015 study in Nutritional Biochemistry. Over a 10-week trial, mice that got the human equivalent of about 1 ½ cups of red grapes a day accumulated less abdominal fat, and had lower blood sugar, than those that didn’t—even though both sets of furry subjects were being fed high-fat diets. In fact, the ellagic acid in the grapes lowered the fat mice’s blood sugar to nearly the same levels as lean, normally fed mice.
Red wine is the best possible source of a micronutrient called resveratrol, which works on the genes responsible for obesity and liver steatosis—essentially, belly fat that forms around your liver. That’s because resveratrol is found primarily in the skin of grapes, and the alcohol in wine draws the resveratrol out of the skins, creating a concentrated dose that’s greater than just grape juice. (You know how, if you leave a splash of wine sitting in a glass overnight, you get a flaky burgundy deposit at the bottom? That’s resveratrol.)
7-Minute Abs Solution # 4: Give Your Belly Biome a Workout
One of the big buzzwords in nutrition right now is “resistant starch.” No, it’s not something your dry-cleaner sprays on your shirt to make it wrinkle less. It’s actually a type of carbohydrate that, as the name suggests, resists digestion.
When you do resistance training, your muscles get stronger. But according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Functional Foods, when you eat resistant starch, your gut biome gets stronger—healthy bacteria literally get a workout digesting the healthy starch, becoming more dominant and leading to a healthier gut, less inflammation, and automatic weight loss. And resistant starch has great metabolism-boosting properties—in fact, it hits both ends of the metabolism spectrum, slowing down your digestive process (thereby controlling blood sugar) while also forcing your body to burn more calories during the digestion process. Best sources include bananas, oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Trying this diet secret for 21 day was How This Female Firefighter Got Abs.
7-Minute Abs Solution # 5: Brew Some Green Tea
Adding a cup (or two) of green tea to your daily regimen can help fire your fat furnace in two ways. First, it controls blood sugar and quashes hunger: In a Swedish study that looked at green tea's effect on hunger, researchers divided up participants into two groups: One group sipped water with their meal and the other group drank green tea. Not only did tea-sippers report less of a desire to eat their favorite foods (even two hours after sipping the brew), they found those foods to be less satisfying. And second, it boosts your calorie burn, especially if you have it before any type of exercise: In a recent 12-week study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea each day with a 25-minute sweat session lost an average of two more pounds than the non tea-drinking exercisers. It’s the power of the unique catechins found in green tea that can blast adipose tissue by triggering the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver’s capacity for turning that fat into energy. All this while doing something unique for your heart: A 2015 study from the Institute of Food Research found that the polyphenols in green tea block a “signaling molecule” called VEGF, which in the body can trigger both heart disease and cancer.
7-Minute Abs Solution #6: Swap Your Guac
Real guacamole is incredibly simple to make, and its fiber and monounsaturated fats can have a dramatic impact on your waist. A study published in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. Other research has shown that the monounsaturated fats in foods like guacamole can reduce your body’s ability to store calories as fat. But if you’re buying guac in the store, read the label: you won’t get those results from a mixture of palm oil, sour cream, water, maltodextrin and artificial colors, and that’s what you’re getting with Mission Guacamole Dip, which has almost no actual guacamole in it. Try one of these brands I love: Wholly Guacamole, Sabra, or Calavo. Or make your own with this super-simple approach: mix up a peeled avocado in a bowl, squeeze in some lime (use one whole lime for each whole avocado), add a couple of tablespoons of fresh cilantro, and sea salt to taste. On the table in much less than 7 minutes! Avocado is just one of these 8 Best Fats for Weight Loss.
7-Minute Ab Solution #7: Stop Eating These Instant Belly Bloaters
Some foods and drinks can make you feel like a python that just swallowed a pig—the opposite of the Zero Belly plan. Certain brands of almond milk contain a chemical that causes your waist to inflate, and the soy protein in nutrition bars can have an unpleasant effect on your gas production. To learn more about these insidious ingredients, and to see which others you should sweep out of your kitchen for good, check out our report on 5 Instant Belly Bloaters to Avoid.
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