Looking to define your abs or achieve a six-pack? You need to start by looking at your diet in terms of the food you fuel your body with before and after your workout. Have you ever looked at that last slice of pizza and thought ‘well I can burn that off on the treadmill
You go to the gym 5 days a week, you’re doing all the right ab exercises, but you still can’t achieve those desired washboard abs. The truth is you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet; because abs aren’t just made in the gym… Abs are made in the kitchen! You cannot maintain a six-pack without eating clean.
What you fuel your workouts with is extremely important, so to start looking leaner it is absolutely essential that you start paying more attention to the food you’re feeding your body, especially when you’re working on that ‘6 pack’ look! Maintaining the healthiest version of yourself requires dedication in all areas of your life.
Of course, you’re allowed to treat yourself every once in a while, but for the vast majority of the time, you need to treat your body as best you can; in fact, research suggests that the wellness of your body is made up of 70% diet and 30% exercise.
Here are some tips on what to eat and what not to eat to fuel your workouts properly and start looking leaner in 2021 and seeing that six-pack ab definition coming through…
Don’t ditch the carbs…
A lot of people when ‘dieting’ decide that the best way to drop the pounds is to ditch the carbs… not entirely true. All you need to be aware of is choosing the right carbohydrates, because carbs give us energy, and how good is your workout going to be if you’re lacking energy? What you do need to wipe from your diet is simple carbohydrates.
These include any refined and processed foods: white bread, white pasta etc. Switch these for anything wholegrain. Whole grains are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, and slow-releasing energy, which will leave you to leave you feeling more energised for longer throughout the day.
Vegetables and protein intake…
To get the most out of your workouts
and maintain your best physique, the foundation of your diet should be made up of lean protein and plenty of fruit and veg- especially greens. Broccoli, asparagus, kale, peas etc. are all packed with the nutrients you need to help achieve that 6 pack/ flat stomach.
Always try to stick to lean sources of protein such as chicken and turkey- these are low in fat and rich in proteins that will fuel your body. Also, pack in different plant-based proteins- legumes, lentils, brown rice, chickpeas are also low in fat and often high in fibre and other nutrients.
Try and make sure you’re getting a decent amount of protein with every meal you eat as it is extremely important when partaking in regular physical activity.
Cut back on alcohol…
Alcohol holds no nutritional value whatsoever and can be high in sugar- especially when you’re mixing it with fizzy drinks or concentrated juices. Your body identifies alcohol as a toxin and the alcohol itself inhibits gaining muscle mass, particularly if you go out binge drinking.
This will also lower the body’s fat oxidation rate, meaning your body’s ability to burn fat will slow down significantly when intoxicated with alcohol. Furthermore, we tend to crave simple carbs like crisps and pizza after a boozy night out- not good when you’re working on your abs.
Eat the good fats…
Essential to our wellbeing
are healthy fats. These include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as raw nuts, avocado, coconut oil, and fatty acids (omega 3s- found in salmon and flaxseeds). These fats will help lower bad levels of cholesterol and are also good for your digestive system and can reduce stomach inflammation which will help you achieve ab definition.
Make sure you stay away from foods high in saturated fats in dairy products such as cheese and butter. Additionally, stay clear of foods that contain trans fat- these are normally present in all processed foods.
Reduce your sugar intake…
We all know that too much sugar is not good for us- and unfortunately, a lot of us may be unaware of how much we are consuming. As mentioned, try and stay clear of refined carbohydrates as they often have a lot of added sugar. Too much added sugar in the bloodstream can start to increase the rate of sugar conversion into fat, which can result in fat being stored and deposited around the tummy.
The body finds it difficult to metabolise too much sugar so will therefore store it as fat. If you’re craving a ‘sweet treat’, stick to foods that contain natural sugars like fruit- or alternatively snack on a few squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa) as it contains antioxidants and is more bitter than milk chocolate so you won’t crave too much of it.
Drink plenty of water…
Firstly, if you want to kickstart your metabolism in the morning, drink a large glass of water before you eat your breakfast. Water helps maintain your body’s fluid balance. This also helps transport nutrients in and around your body to digest food properly. Also, drinking things like pure green tea and fresh lemon in water will help break down and digest food, which will aid in helping you to maintain a flat stomach.
Absolutely no fad diets…
If you’re silly enough to try a fad diet, you will soon work out that they are unattainable and unrealistic. You may drop a few pounds initially but as soon as you’re fed up of dieting and restricting certain food groups, you’ll put the weight back on (plus more) and may have messed up your metabolism by doing so.
The trick is simple- just eat healthily. Stay away from junk food and your body will love you for it. The health and fitness industry is fast growing and there are now countless products on the market that you can treat yourself with that are free from refined sugars and processed ingredients.
Mix up your exercises! Don’t just stick to sit-ups and expect to see abs or a 6 pack. Make sure you’re doing decent amounts of cardio and do not go skipping those leg days because you may not realise that most forms of exercises will be assisting you in helping to achieve a flat stomach. Focusing on all areas of your body when working out will always help target your abs as well- you probably won’t even realise you’re tensing most of the time.