Just when you thought you'd got your spring wardrobe covered - nice pencil skirt, pastel shades, pretty blouse - phew, no need to bare any flesh just yet apart from maybe a tiny sliver of ankle - a pile of celebrities go and bare their midriffs.
Bare legs? That's so 2013. 2014, looks set to be the year of middle ground. At California's Coachella festival last week, there were more midriffs on show than micro shorts. Queen of the stomach scene is Poppy Delevingne and her hippy set whose middles are as springy as Gucci leather handbags. Nearly every other celebrity is at it too, including Beyonce who snapped a headless selfie of herself last week about to board a flight in a skin tight cropped top. Plus, every A-lister on the red carpet is wearing a dress with cut-out middle sections. Since when did it become OK to expose your stomach at a black tie do?
But there's something in this - unlike the nineties when the Buffalo-booted Spice Girls flashed their stomach piercings, this time round the trend feels more sophisticated. The key is in exposing upper abs only which involves wearing your cropped top with high waisted jeans or trousers, either that or flashing a sliver of stomach a la Gwyneth Paltrow who at 40 has crushed the idea that only teenagers can wear this trend. (Thanks Gywn)
The good news? The upper ab area is the area of the stomach most easily toned. The reality? It's fare to say that midriff baring will be more divisive than Marmite.
We asked our experts at Get the Gloss for their tips to getting a washboard wonder.
1. Abs are Made in the Kitchen
I wrote a piece about this on www.getthegloss.com following a bikini mission last year. My trainer Steve Mellor from freedom2train taught me that you can do as many crunches as you like but unless you get rid of the overlying fat on top, then your abs will be buried forever, Only through fat burning exercises (see below) and clean eating (also see below) will you beat the belly blubber.
2. Manage your insulin levels
Amelia Freer who is a nutritional therapist we love at Getthegloss.com says "Elevated levels of insulin encourage the storage of fat, particularly around the middle. So managing blood sugar levels to reduce insulin production is key to reducing abdominal fat storage." So that's NO to refined sugars and processed foods such as white bread, white pasta, cakes and pastries which lead to fat storage, and YES to anything unprocessed. The rule of thumb - if it carries a label don't eat it.
3. HIIT IT
"The best fat-torching exercises are ones that increase your lean muscle mass, like lifting weights or HIIT exercises," says celebrity trainer Dalton Wong of Twenty Two training. We have written extensively about HIIT training, which involves short bursts of hard exercise, followed by short rest periods. The key, according to Steve Mellor is "If you can speak you're not doing it hard or fast enough."
4. Test for intolerance
"To avoid bloating" says Amelia Freer, "You need to avoid foods you may be intolerant to. Gluten and dairy are the most common to cause bloating but one man's food is another's poison. If you aren't sure if foods are causing bloating, keep a food and digestive diary for a week to see if you can link symptoms to a particular food."
5. Stand tall
Even the most taut midriff can be ruined by bad posture, but Dalton Wong says back exercises can help. "Choose exercises like a variation of rows/pulling exercises for your back, long postural endurance exercises like cobras and Y + T's (stand legs hip width apart and pull your arms up into a 'Y' shape, take them back into the middle before swinging them out to the sides into a T shape). Also stretch your chest out, and lift that chest up"
6. Pack in protein
Protein is not just for bodybuilders. Amelia Freer insists that if you want to lose body fat, then adding protein to every meal will help. It not only keeps you fuller for longer but it builds lean muscle (note not bulky muscle). The more lean muscle the more fat you will burn and the tighter your tummy will look.
7. The Crunch Bunch
If fat is not an issue for you but lack of definition is, then Dalton suggests exercises that work the abs hard. He advises a "weighted swiss ball crunch - by using the ball, you get a greater range of movement which equals a stronger, more defined tum."
Susannah Taylor is the Editor-in-Chief of Getthegloss.com, an online destination for expert beauty and health.
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