white woman in red and white bikini bottom with slim tummy

How To Obtain And Maintain A Flat Tummy With Good Nutrition And Exercises

The importance of a flat tummy

A flat tummy is something most of us would like but few of us manage to have.  What and how you eat is important, but calorie consumption isn’t everything.

I’m one of those people who’s always struggled to get a flat tummy.  The only time in my life when I did was when I was very busy, tackling the house and garden on my own.  It was the combination of relentless exercise and being too tired to eat that seemed to work for me.  But that, of course, is a very unhealthy way to do it.  I’m going to investigate in this article how you might get that sought after flat tummy and become and stay healthy at the same time.

Why is a flat tummy important?  Read on to find out:


A flat tummy makes many people feel good because they believe they look attractive and that clothes look better on a slim body.

The fashion for body shapes has changed over the years and differs culturally too.  In the Western world especially, it has become popular to work out and exercise, not only to improve your physique but because it relieves stress and gives you a feeling of well-being.

slim young black man with flat tummy in coral trousers, white shirt and light blue jacket, seated on grass


Losing fat around the belly area and getting a flat tummy is much more than looking better though.

There are two types of fat, visceral and subcutaneous.  Having either of these can cause health risks, but visceral is thought to be more dangerous.  It is harder to get rid of too.

In an online factsheet produced by the NHS (National Health Service in the UK):

“Any fat that’s not used by your body’s cells or turned into energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrates and proteins are also converted into body fat.”.

Visceral fat

Other names for visceral fat are abdominal fat and active fat.  It can build up in the abdominal cavity and surrounds your major organs.  Active fat is so called because it actively increases the risk of serious health conditions.

drawing showing the position of visceral fat in relation to organs of the body and subcutaneous fat

There are four main reasons why you might have too much visceral fat.  These are:

– Vegan Diets: Tips for healthy Vegan diets
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– Nutritional Therapy; here are the benefits of visiting a Nutritional Therapist


The storage by your body of excess fatty acids is a complex process and can lead to obesity.  This is the leading cause of visceral fat.  Lose weight and your visceral fat can be lost too, and the damage it has caused can be reversed over time.  A healthy, nutritious diet will help, together with regular exercise.


An excess amount of visceral fat storage has been linked to a raised level of the stress hormone cortisol.  Stress can be difficult to control, but lifestyle changes, mindfulness, and relaxation will help.  There are many foods, too, that can assist in the lowering of the cortisol level in your body.


Again, this is about hormones.  The precise cause isn’t known, but women who have been through the menopause seem to be at an increased risk of storing excess visceral fat.  A change in the balance of hormones is likely responsible for this.  There are foods that can help, as well as exercise such as Pilates, swimming and going to the gym.


As you get older, there will be changes in your hormones.  You will need fewer calories for your body to function well and there will be physical changes too.  There will be muscle loss and you will gain fat, both visceral and subcutaneous. Maintaining a healthy weight becomes harder but it’s by no means impossible with the right diet and activity.


Subcutaneous fat

Generally speaking, subcutaneous fat is the fat you can see.  You can get it on many parts of the body – hips, thighs and, most commonly, your stomach area. Another term used for subcutaneous tummy fat, especially on men although not exclusively, is beer belly.

white male with bare torso and thick fold of pinched fat - this is not a flat tummy!

In moderation, subcutaneous fat is essential. We are genetically designed to store it in the tummy area and you will probably be able to pinch a fold of fat there.  Too much of this fat isn’t ideal though, both from a health and appearance point of view. In extreme excess, it can be diverted to become the more dangerous visceral fat.


Ways to maintain or obtain a flat tummy


Food and Nutrition that will help you get a flat tummy

Energy (calories) is stored in the form of fat. To maintain your weight, the calories you consume should be equalled by the calories you burn. You should try to eat the right foods and maintain a balanced and healthy diet.  Here are some of the things you should eat and drink:

Plenty of water

You must drink enough water. Many people are dehydrated without knowing it.  If you feel thirsty you have already passed the stage where you need water.  Six to eight glasses of water a day is recommended.

According to NHS inform (Scotland’s national health information service):

“Water makes up two thirds of our body. It is vital we drink enough fluid to maintain a healthy balance. Many people get dehydrated by not drinking enough fluid or by losing fluids and not replacing them.”

water in clear glass with light brown background - drink lots of water to achieve a flat tummy

High fibre food

Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and lettuce, should be included in as many meals as possible. They reduce water retention without causing bloating, are high in fibre and low in calories. Minerals and vitamins to be found in leafy greens include vitamin C, iron, calcium, and folate.

Wholegrain bread, oats, and brown rice are high fibre sources of carbohydrate.

vertical Kale leaves in horizontal line - essential fibre to help you get a flat tummy

Fish, especially oily fish

Think of SMASH … salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring. These are oily fish and are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid. You should try to eat oily fish twice each week. All fish is a good source of protein and eating it instead of less healthy options will assist you in your bid for a flat tummy.

mackerel fillet, an orange colour when cooked, sprinkled with herbs and spices

Fruits, berries, vegetables and spices

Acai berries

These berries are rich in essential fatty acids and dietary fibre, as well as having antioxidant properties which fight toxins.  They assist in speeding up digestion and providing more energy, great if you are following the flat tummy exercises suggested in this article.


Olives slow down blood sugar elevation which reduces the potential for the storage of fat.


This is full of vitamins and minerals.  It contains vitamin B1, B2, B6, C and E.  The minerals found in watercress are manganese, potassium, carotene, and iodine.  By eating these simple green leaves, you can boost your metabolism, flush out excess fluid and toxins, cleanse your body, nourish your skin, and improve digestion.


Kelp or seaweed has a high iodine content and assists in the production of thyroid hormones.  These hormones regulate metabolism, the rate your body burns fat.  It can be bought here.

cooked green seaweed with small pale seeds

Cranberry juice

You could try replacing your breakfast orange juice with a glass of cranberry juice.  Make sure it’s pure cranberry juice, not what is commonly available and marketed as ‘cranberry drink’. If you have cannot buy it in your local shops, you can purchase it here. It has diuretic properties which help your body flush away excess fluids.  Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, is also in cranberries.


This delicious vegetable is rich in zinc and potassium, and vitamins including A, B-complex, C and E. It helps to remove unwanted fluids and is has anti-inflammatory properties. In his article entitled “10 natural diuretics to beat bloating” for Saga Magazine, Daniel Coughlin says:

“Prone to swollen ankles, bulging AM eye bags and uncomfortable tummy bloating? Chances are your body is holding onto excess water and salt.”

Asparagus is one of the 10 natural things he suggests. He has included some useful recipes too.


These superfoods reduce inflammation and water retention, are rich in antioxidants and, something else, they reverse leptin resistance.  Leptin is a protein and it helps in the regulation of metabolic rate and appetite.

tomatoes: red, green, yellow, orange - on straw


For a flatter tummy, it is essential to have a healthy gut.  Raw garlic added to your food will really help.


This boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat faster. It contains beta carotene, good for healthy hair, skin and nails, and vitamin C.


Bananas are rich in the minerals zinc and potassium.  They can help relieve water retention, give you fibre, provide slow-release energy, and assist in the healing of skin.


Like bananas, melons contain potassium. Half a melon contains almost twice as much as one banana. Additionally, they’re low calorie and antioxidant.  Cataloupe melons have twice the recommended dose of vitamin C, and will boost your immune system.

green, scabby oval fruit, cut to expose peach coloured fruit with lots of peach coloured seeds


If you make a smoothie, be sure to add some cinnamon.  Or sprinkle it on top of your cappuccino instead of chocolate. This spice has a distinctive, sweet taste which stimulates the production of insulin, regulating blood sugar levels. Research has suggested that cinnamon can also enhance the response to insulin by fat cells, making them burn existing fat cells instead of holding on to excess energy.


This rhizome has been used for centuries as an aid to digestion.  It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-nausea properties.

Herbal teas

Peppermint, liquorice, fennel, and green tea are good for easing tummy bloating. They reduce excess fluids and calm down your digestive system. Also, they have anti-inflammatory properties, and fennel is a diuretic.

slight green coloured liquid in clear cup with handle on saucer with spoon. Sprigs of mint in the cup
Peppermint tea

Exercise that will help you get a flat tummy

As well as having a healthy diet, exercise is also an important way to achieve a flat tummy. Remember that calories are converted into energy and excess energy is stored as fat. So as well as reducing your calorie intake, you can burn fat by exercise.

Running or Jogging

People have been running as a fitness activity for many centuries. However, it wasn’t until 1963 that jogging became a popular pastime. Its ‘invention’ is accredited to Bill Bowerman, a university professor and track coach in Oregon, USA.  The craze for jogging quickly spread to the UK and is now enjoyed throughout the World.  Following on from that came many ways that people sought to improve their physical fitness.

mosaic of a white skinned woman with long red hair, wearing a blue bikini and holding dumbells 4th century AD
Jogging woman 4C CE
Going to the gym

A brief visit to my younger days again. When I was in my mid-twenties I went, with my female friend, to what was then an unusual activity for women called weight-training.  Here we lifted weights and used strange contraptions to strengthen our bodies.  We were the only women there and I feel as though we were looked upon as an amusing novelty.  To be truthful, we never did manage to achieve the completely flat tummy, but the exercise firmed us up and made us feel attractive and strong.

Coming on to present times, gym membership is an excellent, although expensive, means of exercise.


Swimming is a wonderful form of exercise. You can go to the local pool, use the pool at the gym, or swim wild in the sea or inland waters.  Swimming is so good because it raises your heart rate and exercises your lungs without putting pressure on your joints.

three black girls in swimming pool


Swimming also lifts your mood. A good, energetic swim releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good compounds. It’s a form of relaxing, moving meditation too. As you swim with your head underwater, external sounds are excluded and you become immersed in your own peaceful world.

woman in a pink bathing hat swimming the crawl in blue sea


My home is a great place to exercise. During the covid-19 lockdown, I developed a set of exercises to compensate for not being allowed to walk outdoors. Although I didn’t quite get the longed for flat tummy, I remained trim and strong.  Whilst doing research for this article, I’ve learned that some of my self-devised exercises were very good indeed. One of the best is simply walking up and down stairs. The stairs at home are perfect – eleven steps, carpeted and not too narrow or steep. Wearing out the carpet wasn’t a problem either; it’s scruffy and worn out already, courtesy of our two cats!

Woman wearing beige shorts, black top and grey lace-up shoes, walking down amber coloured carpeted stairs

I began by walking up and down 10 times, briskly. This made me slightly out of breath and tired, but in a good way. Gradually, I increased it to 15 times and I felt as if I’d really done myself some good. I was firmer around the hips, bum and tummy and my legs were stronger.


Walking is a popular and healthy way to do aerobic exercise. The 10,000 steps a day regime is a good one. I try to do this amount of walking several times a week, with swimming on the days I don’t walk. If you can, a circular walk with a few hilly stretches is ideal.


An effective form of exercise is Pilates, founded by German born Joseph Pilates. He was a prisoner of war, working as a hospital orderly, when he came up with exercises to help rehabilitate patients who were confined to their beds. In the 1920s, he set up a studio in New York with his wife, Clara.  They worked with actors, athletes and dancers to enhance their strength and flexibility without putting on bulk.

My favourite fat-busting Pilates exercise is called “The Hundred”.  The way I do it is to lie on my back on the floor and then raise my legs to a table-top position. Then I stretch my legs out to about 30 degrees in front of me. I raise my head and neck slightly, and stretch out my arms beside me.  With my arms, I paddle up and down, counting the movement for 100 repetitions. It’s hard, and it took me a while to do 100 in one go, but I really feel my tummy muscles have been exercised.

Woman in black leotard lying on blue mat in studio doing the Pilates move "The Hundred"
Pilates – The Hundred


There are several factors determining our likelihood to develop unwanted fat around the stomach area. These can be a poor diet, lack of exercise, age, sex, hormones or genetic. But with a combination of the right nutrition and appropriate exercise we can often do something about it. Even if, like me, you can’t get a totally flat tummy, you can at least prevent it from becoming a danger to your health.

You might also like to read our recent article, Toxins and Infections: Where Do They Come From?


5 thoughts on “How To Obtain And Maintain A Flat Tummy With Good Nutrition And Exercises”

  1. Pingback: Healthy Eating Tips During Pregnancy - Dinachi Food & Nutrition Consultant

  2. Awesome 👍 article ,i must say ,but are there alternatives for most of the veggies mentioned as they aren’t really accessible in Africa.

  3. Pingback: Feel Well And You Will Feel Happier: Change Your Diet To Lift Your Mood - Dinachi Food & Nutrition Consultant

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