For best results, change up your workout routine daily.
Some women who have had children, especially those with a medical condition called diastasis recti, may require surgery to repair separated abdominal muscles and remove excess, loose skin. However, this type of surgical procedure is often expensive, not covered under insurance and comes with health risks. The right diet and exercise regimen will help most women flatten their stomach and burn excess body fat.
Burning more calories than you eat daily means your body will rely on stored body fat for energy. To lose abdominal fat, expend 500 to 1,000 more calories than you eat daily to shed about one to two pounds of body fat per week. This helps reduce fat all over your body -- especially in your stomach if you're apple-shaped and carry much of your excess fat in your abdomen. To help reduce calories and achieve a flat stomach, limit or avoid refined grains -- such as white bread and white rice -- soda and other sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, sweets, added sugars, fried foods and commercial baked goods.
Eating plenty of protein daily increases satiety and helps your body maximize calorie expenditure, according to a 2009 study in вЂњThe Journal of Nutrition.вЂќ Therefore, protein helps women create a calorie deficit to shed unwanted abdominal fat. Protein also helps maintain lean muscle mass during periods of energy restriction. Try protein-rich egg whites, lean meat, un-breaded poultry, seafood, low-fat dairy foods, soy products, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Exercise most days of the week to flatten and tone your midsection. Choose a variety of cardiovascular exercises -- such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming or using an elliptical machine. A 2009 review in the вЂњThe Ochsner JournalвЂќ suggests participating in 45 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five to seven days weekly to shed pounds and burn excess body fat for fuel. Strength train to increase lean muscle mass, which helps burn extra calories throughout the day. Try squats, lunges, pushups, sit-ups, biceps curls, triceps extensions and shoulder presses. Work each major muscle group at least two times weekly, suggests the American College of Sports Medicine.
High-intensity intermittent exercise, or HIIT, may be more effective at reducing abdominal fat than other types of exercise, according to a 2011 review in the вЂњJournal of Obesity.вЂќ Authors of this review report that women who participated weekly in three 20-minute HIIT cycling sessions - consisting of eight-second sprints followed by 12-second periods of recovery - lost subcutaneous body fat.
Strengthen Your Abs
Performing abdominal exercises regularly helps women keep their abdomens flat, creates muscle definition and strengthens abs. Try combinations of regular sit-ups, the bicycle, jack knife sit-ups, straight-leg raises, hanging knee-ups and straight-arm sit-ups. Plank exercises also help women strengthen their core abdominal muscles. Also, you can hold a small weight across your chest while performing sit-ups for added resistance, which boosts abdominal muscle definition and strength.