Here’s the thing about abs: cardio, crunches, and planks aren’t enough. No matter how hard you work at the gym, that layer of flab over your abs won’t be going anywhere unless you also start eating clean.
Fitness experts like to say “abs are made in the kitchen.” And they’re right! If you want to see real, lasting results, you must work on both exercise and nutrition. Now, if you’ve already aced the exercise portion, you’ll need to start working on your eating habits.
Here are some nutrition tweaks you can make to get that smokin’ six-pack.
Load up on fiber
A 2016 analysis showed that MyFitnessPal users who successfully lost weight ate 29% more fiber than those who failed to reach their goal weight.
Stock your pantry with high-fiber foods like whole grain breads, beans, legumes, quinoa, oats, almonds, and chia seeds. Eat lots of bean stews, roasted vegetables, and cereal with fresh fruits. Foods that are high in fiber aid in digestion, help regulate your blood sugar levels, and keep you fuller for longer with fewer calories.
More protein, less carbs
If you want a flat tummy, you have to give up the refined and processed carbs. In your body, carbs are broken down into sugar that triggers your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin then converts the excess blood sugar into body fat.
Steer clear of sugary foods, including doughnuts and other sweet pastries, soda, juice, candy, and chocolate. This will help you not just achieve that six-pack, but avoid illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
Lean protein helps you lose fat and gain muscle by boosting your metabolic rate. It’s also what muscles are made of, and the more muscle you have, the better your body gets at burning fat. Chicken, beef, egg whites, turkey, protein shakes, and cottage cheese are good sources of protein.
Eat 5 to 6 small meals instead of 3 huge ones
We’ve been conditioned to eat two to three large meals a day, but that’s really not the best meal schedule for our health — and definitely not if you want abs. Instead of feasting three times a day, cut your meals in half and eat 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day.
This helps you control your portions and, more importantly, trains your body to burn fat more efficiently. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar and helps you control your cravings.
Remember not to go for too long without eating. Eat fist-sized servings and make sure that each meal consists of three parts veggies and one part fats and proteins. Preparing your meals ahead of time will help you stick with this set-up.
Eat foods that speed up your metabolism
The higher your metabolic rate, the faster your body burns abdominal fat. Try to incorporate foods that boost metabolism into your meals. For example, cinnamon and chili peppers are known to increase metabolism. Instead of sugary drinks, sip on green tea, which can speed up metabolism by as much as 10%.
Snack on low-calorie foods that fill you up
Cucumbers are light but satisfying. Add them to your salads, chop them up and drizzle them with some balsamic vinegar, or add them to your water bottle.
Legumes are great in stews, salads, and grain bowls. They’re super nutritious, high in fiber, and a small serving will keep you feeling full without filling you up with calories.
Add butter to your coffee
Bulletproof coffee has been around for a while but people are still really into it because it works. Adding (the good kind of) fat into your coffee triggers a metabolic state called ketosis. It has plenty of benefits like weight loss and better cognitive function. It also helps you control your cravings.
If you want a flat tummy, you’ll have to work for it — in the gym and in the kitchen. Changing your diet will be a lot easier if you learn how to prepare your own healthy meals. If you’re new to cooking, stock up on some of the essentials. Start off with a nice new set of , a good set of knives, and a blender for your green smoothies and protein shakes. Happy cooking and eating!