3 Common Kinds of Belly Bulges — and How to Shrink Them

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As Rachael says, even people that look skinny can be carrying extra weight around their waistline!

But trust, not all bulges are built the same!

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As NYC-based internist and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough Dr. Holly Phillips swung by our studio to explain, there’s more than one kind of “tummy” -- and if you know what kind you have, you can target it with a specific diet and set of exercises to get it flatter faster.

And not just so you can squeeze into your skinny jeans! "Belly fat is not just about our shape," says Dr. Holly. "When you can see belly fat on the outside, that suggests there might be excess belly fat on the inside. On the inside, it's called visceral fat -- it goes around our organs -- and if you have too much of it, it raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes and a number of other conditions."

So, she adds, "Keeping the tummy -- particularly for women -- trim, is really good for our health."

Watch the video above to hear Dr. Holly explain just why your tummy looks the way it does -- and what you can do about it.


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As you can surely guess by the name, the "mommy tummy" (which tends to look like a "3" from the side) belongs to someone who is a new mom. (And congrats to you!) As Dr. Holly explains, all new moms have leftover fat after giving birth — but there's something else many can have, too: diastasis recti, the separation of the large abdominal muscles due to pregnancy. And unfortunately, those muscles don't just snap right back.

Dr. Holly suggests two things: First, choose targeted abdominal exercises, like crunches, when working out, as well as pelvic exercises, like kegels, to get those muscles back to where they were.

As for nutrition, Dr. Holly recommends foods rich in omega-3 acids. "Those are the healthy fats," she explains. "They help us to feel full… and they also give us a ton of energy!" Her picks? Salmon, olive oil and nuts.

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Again, it's all in the name! The "stress tummy," which is fuller right under the bust and flatter at the pelvis, is a side effect of stress — or, more specifically, of the cortisol that is released when we're stressed. "That helps us to be able to deal with stress, but cortisol also makes us accumulate fat in our belly," says Dr. Holly.

Plus, stress can lead to poor sleep, and a lack of sleep can increase our appetite. And we all know what happens when we're hungry…

To bust that stress tummy, Dr. Holly says you need to add one thing to your diet: magnesium.

"As your body makes cortisol, we become magnesium deficient — you want to replete it," says Dr. Holly. "And magnesium itself is a relaxing mineral." So start chomping on bananas, sunflower seeds and leafy greens. (You can also take magnesium in pill form.)

And get that sleep! Did you know most adults actually need 7 to 9 hours of sleep? So if you need more, take it!

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The "hormonal tummy," which is flatter at the top of the tummy and flatter at the pelvis, is the tummy that comes with age — especially menopause.

"Women, when we're younger, put on weight in our chest as well as our hips and thighs — that gives us that hourglass shape — rather than in our bellies, which gives us more of an apple shape," says Dr. Holly. And the change, Dr. Holly says, directly correlates to the amount of estrogen in our bodies.

We also lose muscle mass as we age, which causes our metabolism to slow down.

To keep both our muscles and bones strong as we get older, Dr. Holly says to focus on two nutrients: fiber and lean protein, which you can find in chia seeds, lentils and lean chicken.

What to avoid? Bread and pasta, those simple carbohydrates — not that you can keep them away from Rachael!

"Take pasta away from me at any age and you'll come back with a bloody nose!" she jokes.

We hear you, Rach! Everything in moderation is always a good plan.

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