There are a lot of misconceptions—and even myths—surrounding belly fat and how to banish it. What we often envision in the rulebook for de-bloating is strict diets and grueling fitness regimens that tire us out (even just thinking about them). Even when we work up the courage to take on these belly fat–burning strategies, our stamina and patience easily wane—long before we ever see the results we desire. For the most part, these routines are incredibly difficult to stick to with a nine-to-five schedule (and fitness and nutrition should never be about punishing yourself). That's why we reached out to three experts—a physician, a nutritionist, and a trainer—to weigh in with their top habits that us regular people (who don't work out for a living) can stick to in order to help lose belly fat.
Keep scrolling for tips on how to banish stomach fat without doing sit-ups.
Avoid Drinking Liquid with Meals
This strategy may seem odd, but according to nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author Kimberly Snyder, it will greatly improve the state of your stomach. "Stop drinking lots of liquids with meals," she says. "By drinking water with meals, you are diluting your digestive juices and slowing down digestion that is cutting into your energy." Though it's important to keep hydrated throughout the day, ease off during mealtime to keep digestion clear.
Eat Protein Right Before Bed
When one imagines strategies for eliminating belly fat, eating isn't at the top of the list. However, so much of how you can reset your stomach starts with what you put in it. Amy Lee, MD, head of nutrition for Nucific, recommends getting a healthy dose of protein right before you go to sleep for the night. Filling up on a meal of protein and leafy greens will ensure your body doesn't hold on to water when you wake up the next morning.
"Protein before bed has shown clinically to boost your metabolism the next morning," she says. "Plus, it helps your body repair itself more effectively while you sleep, so you wake up feeling fresher." She recommends half a grilled chicken breast or a scoop of protein powder.
Eat Protein as Soon as You Wake Up
Just as you should end your day with protein to help your body repair itself overnight, Lee recommends kick-starting your day in the same manner. "A high-protein breakfast will turn your metabolism up even more … and give you a nice energy boost," she explains. "Protein has long been proven to be thermogenic—meaning it makes you burn fat. Turning on your fat-burning engine first thing in the morning keeps your metabolism going for the rest of the day."
Incorporate Probiotics into Your Diet
Simply upping your intake of probiotic-rich foods can help to reduce the bloat around your midsection, which is often confused with belly fat. Probiotics are an integral part of Snyder's nutrition plan. While you can get a healthy serving via yogurt, kombucha, and other fermented foods, you can also easily get a daily dose taking a probiotic supplement. Take two of Snyder's SBO (soil-borne organism) probiotic daily to reap the benefits and rebalance your entire body back to health. In addition to resetting your stomach and leading to long-term weight loss, especially around the midsection, Snyder says probiotics are "one of the keys to ultimate nutrient absorption, energy, and having awesome, youthful skin."
Add Fiber and Healthy Fat to Your High-Protein Breakfast
In addition to protein, Lee suggests you incorporate fiber and healthy fats into your breakfast. "This will improve your digestion and make you feel fuller and lighter on your feet for the rest of the day," she says. "After a few days of doing this, you'll find yourself eating less for lunch and dinner than you normally would." When crafting a healthy energy-boosting breakfast, one ingredient to definitely steer clear of is sugar "because it will spike your cravings and ruin the benefits of your breakfast."
Drink Tea with an Herbal Laxative
Fitness coach Katy Clark recommends a super-quick and easy way to get a flatter stomach—have a tea with a herbal laxative like Smooth Move by Traditional Medicinals. "It will help clear out the system for a flatter belly," she says. It's important to note, though, that herbal laxatives aren't recommended for weight loss but rather for stimulating the digestive system only occasionally (such as when you're constipated).
Lower Your Sodium and Dairy Intake
All experts agree that cutting back on certain foods is essential to beating belly fat. Snyder calls out salty foods (which cause the body to hold on to water) as the first thing to lower your intake of. Admittedly, this is no easy feat, but simply being conscious that high-sodium foods cause bloating can help persuade you to make healthier decisions. Snyder recommends swapping out salt for seasoned herbs to enhance flavor.
The second food to be wary of is dairy. Sounds like too much of an endeavor? In this day and age, it isn't as difficult as you'd think. "Replace dairy items with almond milk, almond cheese, coconut yogurt, and the whole range of dairy-free items that are available now," Snyder says.
Get More Sleep
Last but not least is the belly fat–beating habit every lazy girl can get behind: Get more sleep. One overlooked (and easily fixable) reason you're not losing belly fat is simply that you are not getting enough sleep. Research has found that sleep deprivation messes with your metabolism, thus making it difficult to burn fat cells. Once you try your hand at the array of lazy girl–friendly options above, make sure to finish off the day with some quality shut-eye to allow your body to get to work on itself while you catch some Zs. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.