The Truth About Achieving Toned Abs

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When it comes to getting a flat tummy, every girl feels pretty much the same: You work out and work out, but the little flab around your mid-section won't budge! So we went straight to the authorities to find out what can be done, once and for all, to get those elusive toned abs. Here's what nutritionist Christina Persaud and fitness expert Phoenix Carnevale had to say:

What are the best exercise moves and diets to follow if you want flat abs?

Both Persaud and Carnevale agree that the key to getting flat abs is eating right and exercising regularly. Fatty items like fried foods, cheese, ice cream, cakes, and cookies can and will eventually lead to belly bulge warns Persaud. You have to be sure that you're not eating more calories than you are burning on a daily basis or your body will store the excess calories as fat.

There's no way to spot reduce areas on your body adds Carnevale. Abdominal exercises tone and tighten the tummy and targeting the core is key, but without a proper diet those muscles will stay hidden under a layer of flab. But don't despair! Carnevale says a balanced mix of cardio work and strength training does the trick every time. Cardio burns calories and strength training builds muscle, which in turn keeps your metabolism revved up all day long.

What myths would you dispel as far as getting flat abs are concerned?

There are  no magic diets says Persaud. You have to change your lifestyle and substitute bad fats (fried meats, high fat cheeses, whole milk) for good fats (olive oil, nuts, avocado) and avoid overly processed foods—they are usually very high in calories with little nutritional value. Portion control is also key. And remember, the best beverage for a tight tummy is water! Steer clear of sodas, sweetened waters and juice.

Carnevale agrees that fad diets are never the answer. Even if you lose the weight, it will inevitably creep back because that kind of restrictive lifestyle is impossible to maintain. She also points out that crunches are not the end all and be all of ab workouts. She suggests incorporating a variety of moves to work your core muscles (see her favorites below). There is no way to whittle your middle with cardio workouts alone!

Suggested Super Foods To Indulge In:

  1. Tomatoes are low in calories and have no fat! Plus, grape tomatoes are great beach snacks.
  2. Berries are good sources of fiber and can help nip those "sweet tooth" cravings in the bud. Buy them frozen and treat yourself, they taste like little ice pops!
  3. Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fat (a healthy fat). It’s a great addition to salads, or good to munch on just as a snack!

 

Suggested Super Moves to Trim Your Tummy:

  1. Plank Position. Holding this push up position tones almost every muscle in your body, but your core is what keeps it all together. You can also easily track your development by seeing how much longer you can hold it every time.
  2. Reverse Crunches. This move works your lower abs, which are often ignored and are a very important aspect to the strength of your core muscles.
  3. Bicycles. This old school maneuver helps work your larger ab muscles as well as your obliques, which is what gives your middle that sexy definition!

BONUS TIP:

Don’t forget your lower back! You can’t strengthen your tummy muscles without working out the opposing lower back muscles as well. Superman extensions are perfect for this and feel great. Just lay flat on your tummy, and raise both your arms and your legs off the floor (like your flying Superman style). Hold for as long as possible and aim for a set of 12-15 repetitions, just like the rest of your ab routine.

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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