You’ve probably heard it a million times before, and it’s true: Abs are made in the kitchen. Or, to put it another way, abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen. It’s that old 80/20 rule: Results are 80 percent nutrition, 20 percent exercise. In other words, if you aren’t seeing progress from your workouts, don’t blame your trainer—your diet is the likely culprit.
In order to sculpt a flat, toned stomach, you need to do two things: burn fat and build muscle. Having low body fat equals more muscle definition. You can crank out crunches until the cows come home, but your six-pack won’t be visible if it’s hiding beneath layers of fat. And that, friends, is where diet comes into play.
To maximize the payoff from your core workouts, incorporate these belly-slimming foods into your diet. Combined with fat-burning exercise, you’ll be flaunting a six-pack in no time!
Lean Protein: Incorporate more lean, high-quality protein into your diet—think chicken breast, fish and lean cuts of beef. By helping build lean muscle mass and keeping you satiated throughout the day, protein accelerates fat burn for a tighter, flatter waistline. Try this delicious Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa, which contains belly-busting protein and healthy fat from the avocado:
Nuts: As counterintuitive as this sounds, fats are key for weight loss. But the type of fat matters—you have to select healthy (unsaturated) fats over unhealthy (saturated) fats. Nuts—such as almonds, cashews and walnuts—are a fantastic source of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Be careful, though: Nuts are high in calories, so try to limit yourself to a ¼ cup serving (about a small handful).
Yogurt: Another great slimming food, yogurt contains probiotics, a form of “healthy” bacteria that promotes digestion and relieves gas and bloating. Yogurt is also rich in calcium, which is thought to improve your body’s ability to break down fat. Skip sugary blends and stick to plain, low-fat Greek yogurt instead. Bonus: it’s loaded with protein, making it the ideal post-workout snack. These Strawberry Greek Yogurt Popsicles are a wholesome summertime treat:
Berries: Eat berries to banish belly bloat. Small but mighty, berries are packed with loads of fiber and antioxidants. Fiber staves off food cravings, while antioxidants have been shown to improve blood flow, helping you get more results from your workouts. Serve up this low-fat Quinoa with Berries Salad, which contains two belly-slimming all-stars—quinoa and berries:
Quinoa: For starters, nutrient-stripped white carbohydrates are your belly’s worst enemy; they can cause blood sugar to skyrocket and are full of empty calories. Quinoa, on the other hand, is your ally in weight loss. This nutrition-packed superfood combines protein, fiber, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates all in one. In research studies, individuals who choose whole-grain products tended to slimmer tummies and less belly fat than individuals who nibbled refined white bread. So ditch the white rice and whip up a batch of this slimming Mediterranean Quinoa Salad instead…
Green tea: To score a covetable six-pack, sip on green tea. Study after study has touted the fat-burning effects of this antioxidant-packed brew, which has been scientifically proven to rev up your metabolism and scorch fat. Can’t stomach the bitter taste of green tea? Green tea supplements will do the trick, too.
The takeaway message? For washboard abs, you’ll need to put in your time at the gym, but you’ll also need to do five reps of “stop-eating-so-much-crap.” To help kick-start your ab routine, try our Flat-Belly Yoga Workout.