Jorge H Montano JR, B.S.
Founder and CEO of Altus Premier Nutrition.
Want to make your abs pop? Have a hard time losing belly fat? If so, give your diet a makeover! As you probably know, abs are made in the kitchen. What you eat accounts for over 80 percent of your results in the gym. Not even the best workout plan can offset bad eating.
If your goal is to get ripped abs, diet is crucial. Ideally, your meals should be high in protein and low in carbs. Baked goods, chips, ready-made meals, and processed foods are off limits. Also, you must watch out for hidden sugars and time your meals.
Ready to give it a try? Here are three eating habits that will uncover your abs:
Cut Back on Carbs
One gram of carbs holds up to three grams of water. A high sodium intake only makes things worse. If you eat 200 grams of carbs throughout the day, you'll hold about 600 grams of fluid. This explains why you look bloated after eating high-carb foods, such as pasta or rice.
Your body needs carbs for energy. These nutrients promote muscle repair, support healthy testosterone levels, and boost exercise performance. Unfortunately, they also cause fluid retention.
If you want to make those abs pop, cut back on carbs. Start with 70-80 grams a day and track your progress. Go below 40 grams of carbs a day if necessary.
Load Up on Protein
Next, increase your protein intake. This way, you'll stay full longer and feel less hungry. A high-protein diet will rev up your metabolism and accelerate muscle growth. It also helps preserve lean mass while in a calorie deficit.
Moreover, this nutrient aids in testosterone production, increases fat loss, and speeds up recovery from training. To reap the benefits, eat protein at every meal. Opt for lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and legumes.
Dairy foods are rich in protein too, but they also contain lactose. This sugar affects digestive function and triggers inflammation. If you’re sensitive to lactose, you may feel bloated and hold water. To stay safe, avoid or limit dairy.
Quinoa, amaranth, nuts, and seeds boast a high protein content, making them ideal for vegans. However, these foods are also rich in carbs or fats, so make sure they fit into your daily macros.
For instance, if your favorite source of protein is quinoa, eat it for breakfast or lunch. Stick to low-carb foods for dinner.
Watch Out for Hidden Sugars
Check food labels for hidden sugars, such as dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and maltose. Fruits and honey contain fructose, which goes straight to your liver and gets stored as fat. Your body can not use this sugar for energy. Thus, you should treat fruit as a dessert.
Beware that many healthy foods are chock-full of sugar. There are over 29 grams of carbs in a quarter cup of dried cranberries.
Diet foods aren't better either. Just because they're sugar-free, it doesn't mean they have zero carbs. Manufacturers add fructose, agave syrup, and other high-carb sweeteners for extra flavor. Sugar not only makes you fat but also increases your risk of heart disease, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cancer.
These are a few of the many things you can do to uncover those abs. Choose whole foods and track your macros. Swap starches and grains for leafy greens, ditch the soda, and watch your portions. For faster results, eliminate gluten and dairy from your menu. Keep sodium to a minimum.