Working toward a flat belly means achieving a much healthier version of yourself. Beyond aesthetics, maintaining a fit midsection can help prevent various health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It can even lengthen your life. We didn’t say the process would be easy, though—losing weight and sculpting a slim physique takes hard work, consistency, and dedication. Now, if you’ve seemingly been taking all the “right” steps and aren’t seeing physical results, we understand how frustrated you may be. That’s why we spoke with the experts who break down some of the best ways to flatten your belly in 14 days. (You heard that right! Slimming down your midsection and melting belly fat can take as little as two weeks’ time, so long as you know the most efficient course of attack.)
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s get one thing straight: Spot reduction is a total myth. “Although there is no way to specifically target your belly area in a set amount of time with diet, as weight comes off from everywhere when you lose it, there are some practices that can help the debloating process so that your belly feels less extended and then you naturally just feel better overall,” says Laura Burak MS, RD, founder of GetNaked® Nutrition and author of Slim Down with Smoothies. “As with any other body part, there is not one way to target your belly area because there are many different areas of your life that you need to adjust consistently, there is no magic bullet, and patience is key,” she adds.
In summary, you can’t target a specific area of your body to lose weight. But rather, by following just the right healthy habits on deck, you’ll be able to shed excess weight all over your body, therefore reducing fat in your midsection (aka visceral fat, which is toxic to your health). A solid combination of diet, exercise, and smart lifestyle tweaks can help you reach your flat belly goal.
So without further delay, let’s see what the experts have to say about some of the most effective ways to start flattening your belly in 14 days. And when you’re finished, be sure to read about the 7 Exercises That Hit & Tone Your Belly at Every Single Angle.
The first pro tip from our experts? Consider kicking off each meal with bitter leafy greens. “They’re super low in calories, take the edge off hunger, and help to fill you up with their fiber, so you’ll eat less of the heavy stuff at your meals,” explain The Nutrition Twins®, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, who are members of our Medical Expert Board. Before you know it, you’ll see the pounds start to melt away!
Bitter leafy greens also help with digestion by activating the flow of your digestive enzymes, making them excellent fighters against indigestion, bloating, and stomach distention, supporting your efforts to achieve a flat belly. “For a flat-belly bonus, start your meal with dandelion greens since their prebiotic fiber will also help to improve the health of the microbiome, which also will reduce bloating, gas, and a distended belly,” The Nutrition Twins add.
Use this 14-day timeframe to “readjust your sweet palate,” as The Nutrition Twins put it. Instead of opting for chocolate chip cookies and sugar-packed pastries, enjoy foods that are naturally sweet—like fresh fruit—to satisfy your sweet tooth. “You’ll avoid empty calories that pack on those pesky pounds that typically settle around the midsection,” The Nutrition Twins explain. “While your tastebuds start to adjust to a new, lower level of sweetness that doesn’t contain added sugar, you’ll experience less bloat since your body will no longer be holding on to excess water to dilute sugar. You’ll feel lighter and greatly reduce sugar cravings, too.”
To get started, The Nutrition Twins suggest trying a quarter cup of berries (which contains less than 25 calories, compared to a quarter cup of M&M’s, which has a whopping calorie count of 210)!
Have you tried “zipping up” your abs? Doing so can make a substantial difference in your flat belly efforts. The Nutrition Twins rely on this method, instructing you to engage your core by squeezing it tight and pulling your abs inward and back toward your spine as you breathe out. “Think of zipping your abs together by using your muscles to contract your abs by pulling in from the center,” they explain. “Think about pulling everything in from a vertical line from your belly button and up to between your breastbone and pulling everything in and back towards your spine.”
You’ll hold for 10 seconds while exhaling. Then, gradually release the hold, and repeat the exercise for 10 reps a minimum of three times each day. “This creates good posture and wakes up the ab muscles and makes it easier to keep your abs from pouching out, preventing them from looking bloated,” The Nutrition Twins tell us.
Enjoying green tea throughout your day is another simple yet excellent way to flatten your belly in 14 days. Sipping on this healthy beverage will help you flush out things that make you bloated, like sugar and salt, while also ensuring you stay hydrated. “Green tea has been shown to help to promote weight loss and speed up your metabolism if you can get four to five cups a day,” The Nutrition Twins explain. “It’s easier than you think; each cup is only a teacup which is four to six ounces vs. eight ounces in a standard cup. Green tea also fights against inflammation that makes it easier to gain weight.”
You may have heard that the more color you have on your plate—through fruits and veggies—the healthier it is. Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, a nutritionist in private practice, and a member of our Medical Expert Board, tells us, “Increasing colorful vegetable and fruit intake to aid in weight loss is a good idea. However, different types of vegetables have different types of health benefits, so it is important to vary colors.”
One of Young’s go-to tips if you want to burn belly fat is to add more red-colored fruits and veggies to your diet, since they’re chock-full of flavonoids. “Research has shown that flavonoids such as anthocyanins and flavonoid polymers, may contribute to weight loss, as well as prevention of obesity,” she says.
When someone mentions “fats,” you likely want to run for the hills. But not all fats are bad! As a matter of fact, adding healthy fats to your diet is a stellar way to lose weight and flatten your belly. Just remember that as with anything, portion control is key.
“Healthy fats contain monounsaturated fats, which have been said to help with weight loss and decrease inflammation,” Young tells us. “They also help to keep you full for longer periods of time … avocados, for example, are an excellent healthy fat that are high in dietary fiber, which is crucial for weight management and weight loss as well as our digestive system.”
Lean protein is an integral part of any healthy diet, and it supports your flat belly efforts. “Protein, especially lean sources, aids in feelings of fullness and leaves you satiated after a meal,” Young says. “Furthermore, protein contains choline, which is found in lean meats, some seafood, and collard greens. Research has shown that choline can aid in burning body fat. Moreover, protein can also help to boost metabolism and reduce appetite, which is very important for abdominal weight loss.”
Although fast food is a tasty and convenient choice when you’re looking to indulge in a cheat meal, highly processed foods can wreak havoc on your weight and health. “Highly processed foods contain refined carbohydrates that have little to no nutritional value and no dietary fiber,” Young explains. “Research has shown that refined carbohydrate intake is associated with an increased waist circumference and belly fat accumulation.” If you’re looking to flatten your belly, nixing all heavily processed foods is one of the best ways to do it.
“First, it may sound counterintuitive, but drink more water,” Burak suggests. Being chronically dehydrated can have a negative impact on every bodily process and prevent your kidneys and liver from efficiently eliminating waste. “For example, when you eat a salty meal without enough water to flush it out, you may end up feeling bloated in your belly area,” she adds. “Adequate hydration just keeps everything flowing and keeps you regular in the bathroom. Chronic constipation and gastrointestinal problems can lead to belly bloating, gas, and discomfort in the area.”
Adding plants to your diet comes with a plethora of health benefits, including weight loss. Burak suggests, “Focus on eating plenty of plants, which are the best sources of naturally-occurring fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants, paired with lean proteins like eggs, fish, poultry, nuts, and seeds to stabilize blood sugar and maintain homeostasis.”
Research backs this up. According to a review of 19 different studies, consuming a plant-based diet can have a positive impact on the BMI and body weight of individuals who are overweight, those suffering from cardiovascular disease, and those dealing with rheumatoid arthritis.
Properly spacing out meals during the day is the name of the game. This way, you’re not consuming a massive dinner each night, which will not only add to your belly fat but also contribute to sleep issues and acid reflux.
“Fueling your body more when you actually need the energy so your body can use it more efficiently, which is usually during the daytime hours, will help your body maintain a healthier weight rather than consuming thousands of calories at night when you’re home sitting on the couch,” Burak tells us.
“Using natural supplements like ginger, lemon, mint, dandelion, and bromelain-containing foods like pineapple can quickly help flatten a bloated belly, although it may be temporary,” Burak explains. Research shows just how beneficial supplementation can be to your weight loss efforts. For instance, according to a systematic review of overweight and obese individuals, taking ginger supplements substantially decreased their body weight.
Getting your body up and moving each and every day is a key player in the weight loss game. Especially if you work remotely or sit at a desk all day long, it’s important to offset the negative effects of a more sedentary lifestyle.
“Daily movement and activity are crucial for keeping your belly fat at a healthy level,” Burak says. So set reminders to get up and moving! It’s pretty seamless to take some work calls while getting in your steps on a treadmill or carve out a 15-minute break to walk around your neighborhood and breathe in the fresh air. Your mental health will benefit, too.
Keep in mind that it’s recommended healthy adults perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorously intense aerobic exercise on a weekly basis, or a combo of the two. Of course, the more you do, the greater the health benefits.
We’ve established that performing cardio is very important, but making it the sole focus of your workouts is a mistake. Many individuals think that lifting weights will make them look “bulky,” but that’s simply not the case. This form of exercise is actually incredibly productive—and necessary—if you’re looking to slim down and flatten your belly. Strength training helps you build and preserve lean muscle, and muscle torches a greater amount of calories than fat. It’s all about creating a healthy balance of cardio and strength training.