Having a trim waist line is important for more than just looks. Carrying extra fat mass around your stomach area is associated with increasing risk for chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Getting six pack abs takes a combination of losing fat mass around your mid-section and building up your core muscle strength.
Getting six pack abs takes time and hard work, but there are some ways you can help speed up the process of shedding weight around your mid-section. Besides doing the right types and a variety of exercises, what you eat can greatly affect muscle tone in the stomach.
While there is no magic formula for washboard abs that fits everyone, following these simple tips can help you choose foods that can help you get six pack abs faster.
Fruits and vegetables
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables may be one way to help lose weight and keep weight off according to some research studies including a 2008 study (1). This study found Brazilian overweight women who had higher intake of fruits and vegetables had more weight loss compared to women who had lower intakes of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, and eating fiber can help keep you feeling full. Filling up on high fiber foods can keep you satisfied while still not getting excessive amounts of calories.
Another benefit for eating more fruits and vegetables is they are high in antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals including potassium. Getting enough potassium can be important muscles to contract.
To get more fruits and vegetables in your diet, make at least half your plate full of fruits and vegetables at meal times. Enjoy them with a healthy protein and fat source to provide sustainable energy.
Spread out your protein intake through the day
Getting enough protein is important for building muscle and helping you stay full after meals. Do you need to increase your protein intake for getting six pack abs? You are probably getting enough already, as most Americans get more than enough protein.
What may be important for building muscle besides how much protein is when you eat it. Most people get most of their protein at the evening meal and much smaller amounts of protein earlier in the day.
A 2014 study (2) looked at the effect of protein distribution throughout the day and the effect on protein synthesis.
Researchers found protein synthesis was 25% higher in participants who had an even distribution of protein throughout the day compared to participants who had most of their protein in the evening meal even though both groups had the same total amount of protein.
This result suggests eating protein evenly through the day may help you build more muscle mass compared to eating most of your protein in one sitting.
Instead of eating a larger serving of protein for dinner, see how you can shave some of that serving off and fit it in earlier in the day. Combining a serving of protein along with fiber from fruits or vegetables can be a double way to make you feel full for longer.
How much protein do you need? Protein needs can vary, but generally speaking the recommendation is 15-25% of calories from protein. Getting around 30 grams of protein per meal has also been shown (3) to stimulate muscle synthesis.
Drinking water before a meal
Drinking enough water is important for many reasons, and one may be that drinking enough water may actually be helpful for weight loss. A 2015 study (4) found that drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal helped participants lose more weight compared to participants who didn’t drink water before a meal.
Researchers think drinking water before meal times helps with weight loss because water can help fill you up.
Drinking enough water in general can be helpful for weight loss because sometimes we feel like eating when really we’re just dehydrated. By drinking enough water, you may help lessen your desire to graze or munch through the day.
Cut out the sugar and processed foods
One thing to cut out when trying to get six pack abs is sugar and simple carbohydrates like white bread, cookies, chips, crackers, etc. Foods like these have little nutritional value and tend to spike blood sugar levels. When this happens, insulin gets released and can promote fat storage.
By filling up on foods high in fiber and eating protein spread throughout the day, you are helping blood sugar levels stay stable and avoid blood sugar spikes.
Watch the salt
Getting too much salt, which is very easy to do, may make you feel bloated. It can also make your stomach feel distended and heavy, which is opposite of feeling like a six pack.
Getting too much salt is easy to do especially if you eat a lot of packaged food. Try cutting back on sodium intake by eating more unprocessed foods and cooking meals yourself.
Having a six pack for abs takes more than just exercising a few days a week. Besides following a rigorous training schedule, you need to eat the right types of food. Filling up on foods high in fiber, like fruits and vegetables, can help you feel full while providing your body with many nutrients for not a lot of calories.
Eating your protein evenly throughout the day, instead of loading up on the dinner meal, can help stimulate muscle synthesis according to some research studies. There is a cap to how much protein can be absorbed and used for building muscle, so don’t get too carried away with chugging the protein.
Getting enough water, especially before meal times, can help with weight loss. Cutting out extra sugar and simple carbohydrates can help limit blood sugar spikes, which can be helpful for weight loss.