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Last updated July 29, 2016 (originally published July 9, 2010)

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

First the bad news. You know all those late night infomercials
promoting those gadgets that will shock your waistline into
smaller numbers.

Or those endless crunches in the gym you've done in search
of a whittled waist?   They don't work.  

True, exercise helps to build muscle mass generally.  But if
you are looking for a Six-pack (at my age a One-pack will do,
thank you), then you will also need to diet to shrink your
waistline.  Once the extra layer of blubber is reduced by
dieting, then the Six-pack that your 100 crunches have
earned you will be revealed to the world.  To reduce your
waistline, you must reduce the blubber. And reducing your
waistline will not only help you look better, it may save your
health. See
Waist Size Matters. (Read more about the only
type of exercise that reduces your waist.)

Protein Helps to Reduce Your Waist

Studies have shown that protein may be your best ally in
obtaining a youthful waistline. A study of 100 women in
Australia discovered that  women who ate low calorie diets
rich in protein from red meat and dairy lost more weight than
those who ate a diet with the same amount of calories but
with little meat and more carbs.  Article Continues Below.

According to the study's author, Manny Noakes, Ph.D.,
associate professor with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific
Industrial Research Organization, protein can reduce hunger.

protein is a low-glycemic index food, meaning it does
not raise your blood sugar, which would otherwise trigger an
insulin response.  H
igh insulin levels convert excess
blood-sugar into belly
girth.  We start to take the shape of
apples or pumpkins rather than pears. (Read more about
Sugar and the Disease Connection).

Blueberries Help to Shrink Your Waist

Are there other foods that can help top specifically reduce
your abdomen? According to new research,
blueberries help
to reduce belly fat.

What is the ideal waistline number?  As you might expect,
recommendations vary. Under the guidelines of the
International Diabetes Federation, a normal waist
measurement for a woman is 32 inches or less, and for a man
is 38 inches or less. Many doctors are even more stringent,
recommending a target of 30 inches or less for a woman and
35 for a man.

The Mediterranean Diet Reduces Your Waist Line

Those who closely follow a Mediterranean diet have smaller
waistlines, several studies have found.

What exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

Basically, it consists of eating fresh vegetables, especially
greens, fish, whole grains and, when oil is needed, using olive

And, instead of desserts, substitute fresh fruits pr
unsweetened yogurt.

A 2012 study from the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Unit
of Paris Nord Universite examined 3,232 people who followed
the Mediterranean diet in varying degrees.

The study found that the more closely you follow the
Mediterranean diet, the smaller your waist circumference.

And what exactly is the Mediterranean diet? It's a diet that is
focused on greens, whole grains, plenty of fish instead of red
meat and use of olive oil instead of lard.

In addition, those following the Mediterranean diet also had
lower levels of
triglycerides, bad cholesterol and systolic (the
top number) blood pressure.


To Reduce Your Waist Line, Eat Your Beans

A 2012 study from Dr. R.C. Mollard and other researchers at
the University of Toronto discovered that people who eat 5
servings of beans or certain peas a week can help to  
dramatically reduce your weight and your waist line. The
study found significant changes after eating beans 5 times a
week for just 8 weeks.

What kinds of beans work? Navy beans, lentils, and 2 kinds of
peas --- chick peas and yellow peas. Eating these beans and
peas can reduce your total weekly calorie intake by 500

Stop Smoking to Help Reduce Your Waist

Among smokers, there is a persistent belief that smoking
helps to reduce the amount you eat and therefore your
weight. But a mega-study conducted in 2012 casts serious
doubt on that belief. The study was carried out in 2012 by a
large team of researchers from around the world and led by
Dr. Annie May of the Julius Center for Health Sciences and
Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht in the

They followed 325,537 Europeans from 89 countries in the
so-called "EPIC-PANACEA" study. The participants were
divided into groups based on their adherence to the
Mediterranean diet, whether they smoked, and other factors.

After 5 years, the researchers observed changes in weight
and waist circumference and other health measures. In terms
of weight loss, the study found that non-smokers had loss  
.99 centimeters more from their waist lines than smokers.

In other words, 5 additional years of smoking had not
reduced waist lines of smokers an inch. In fact, they had
gained more around the middle than non-smokers.

Bottom line? If you're using cigarette smoking as a strategy
to reduce your waist, you are wasting your time.

Eat a Low-Glycemic, High-Fiber Diet to Reduce Your Waist

Evidence is growing that eating a diet which does not cause
large increases in your blood sugar level and which is high in
fiber helps to reduce your waist line. One such study was
completed in 2010 and was led by Dr. Jose Calbet of the
Imperial College of London, together with a team from other
institutions including and Copenhagen University Hospital.
That study examined the health records of 48,631 men and
women from 5 European countries. The researchers found
that both men and women with high glycemic index diets
--meaning the diets triggered increases in blood sugar -- and
low fiber diets, had the largest waist line cisrcumferences.


The Only Type of Exercise That Reduces Your Waist

Normal Waist Size for Your Height

Normal Waist Size for a Man

Six Pack Abs-Step By Step

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Eating a Mediterranean diet which focuses on greens, vegetables,
low fat cheese and olive oil can help to reduce your waist. It can
also lower the amount  of
inflammation throughout your body,
which in turn reduces your risk for cancer,
heart disease and stroke.