It's extremely difficult to "spot reduce" fat, or to lose fat in only certain areas of the body. Generally, the best course of action is to follow the same old boring weight loss advice and focus on staying healthy as a whole. However many of us are especially concerned about our abdominal fat, because for many people it's the part of their bodies they would most like to slim down.
Although it's difficult to target fat loss to one specific area of the body, there are certain tricks, foods and exercises that can help you trim your waistline and midsection, reduce stubborn tummy fat AND tone your abs.
So what's the secret for how to get a slim waist? Small lifestyle changes can reap big results – from simply living in the present and reducing stress levels to doing fat-blasting HIIT workouts and not sitting down for too long. Looking for long-lasting results and a small waist that Marilyn Monroe would be proud of? Follow these waist-shrinking tips to see a noticeable change in belly size and strength over time.
- Arm yourself with one of the best sports bras before you start any exercise
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1. Hula-hoop away fat
Remember how much fun hula hooping was as a kid? Guess what – it still is! "It's also a brilliant way of working all your core muscles to clinch you in at the waist and help you lose weight," says personal trainer Jen Skym.
"You need very little space to do it, and as well as a cardio workout, hooping is a fab core exercise. You can do it in front of the TV and a weighted hoop will help you burn more calories – and lose weight faster."
2. Forget sit-ups
"To target your waist, you need to focus on your deep core muscles," explains Jen. "Your transverse abs, located deep within the 'six-pack' area, act like a corset around your midsection. Strengthening your deep core muscles will help to 'tighten the corset' and slim down your waist."
Jen advises ditching sit-ups – which target a different stomach muscle – and instead trying core bridges, heel sliders and 'dead bugs', which are more effective for a slim waist. "Side planks are also great at targeting your obliques, the muscles either side of your waist." We love this lower abs 10-minute workout with Madfit.
3. Eat bloat-blasting foods
Often women feel self-conscious about their tummy, not because of the size or shape, but because it is bloated and sticking out, says nutritionist Becs Steele, from B Well Nutrition. Want to beat the bloat and get a slim waist? "Start the day with a cleansing cup of fresh ginger and lemon tea (mix peeled and grated root ginger and freshly squeezed lemon juice with boiling water). This will rev up your metabolism and cleanse the digestive system," says Becs.
"Then up your protein intake. That means eating lots of fish like salmon, cod, haddock and mackerel, or a plant-based alternative like tofu if you're veggie. "Avoid processed carbs like white bread and pastas, pastries and crisps that cause bloating and weight gain, and instead choose slow-release carbs from wholegrains, colourful root vegetables, beans and pulses. Add lots of leafy greens that are high in magnesium and micronutrients that aid digestion."
4. Chill out
If you're trying to shred stubborn fat from your waist and stomach, stress is the enemy. The thing is, the more stressed we are, the more we produce cortisol, which inhibits fat loss. Because increased levels of this hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.
Keeping your stress levels down can help with weight loss, but don't get too relaxed… sitting down at a desk or the sofa for too long decreases the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which helps us burn fat around the middle. Standing, on the other hand, burns twice as many calories as sitting.
5. Blast belly fat with HIIT
Want to know the ultimate exercise for how to get a slim waist? Evidence has found that high intensity interval training (HIIT) can specifically blast belly fat. A 2018 study found that HIIT significantly reduced total, abdominal and visceral fat mass (fat stored around your vital organs).
The high intensity nature of HIIT also means that you carry on burning calories even after you've finished your workout – this 'afterburn effect' helps to rev up your metabolism and torch calories for up to six hours! Try this beginner's HIIT workout with Joe Wicks.
6. Be mindful
Slimming down your waist isn't just about a healthy diet; it's about what's going on in your head, too. Interestingly, a study by Brown University found that people who practiced mindfulness and meditation had less visceral fat (the dangerous hidden fat stored around your vital organs).