We’ve all dreamt of having six pack abs like our favorite celebrities. We’ve all gotten motivated by fitness videos, transformation stories and new year resolutions, to work towards getting “ripped.” Chances are you’ve slaved away at the gym only to see that the crunches and planks have not managed to get rid of that stubborn belly fat. But, don’t feel disheartened. It isn’t your fitness regime that needs to change, it’s your diet. By making the right choices when it comes to food, you’ll see significant progress in your journey towards those washboard abs. Here are all the things you should be eating to see results.
1. Lean Meats
It’s all in the name when it comes to lean meat. They contain lesser calories and fat than their full-fat counterparts. Protein makes you feel full and prevents you from over eating. Recent studies have also shown that a diet rich in lean meat leads to thermogenesis. This means that your body burns a few calories in the meat as it digests it.1 2 Incorporate lean meats like skinless chicken, skinless turkey, pork chops, shell fish and lobster into your everyday diet to lose stubborn fat.
2. Whole Grains
We often overlook whole grains either because we aren’t entirely aware of them, or because we’re trying to cut out carbs. But, carbohydrates are important sources of energy and without them you might develop symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, constipation, lethargy, and low appetite. In fact, research states that a diet low in carbohydrates might not be the best way to get rid of fat permanently.3 Instead, it’s important to choose complex carbs which come from whole grains over simple carbs which are refined and come from sugary food. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel. They pack dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Most are high in protein as well.4 Opting for whole grains come with benefits like reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. They also manage weight and maintain digestive health.5 So opt for brown bread over while bread and brown rice over white rice whenever you can.
3. Citrus Vegetables
We all know that we need to focus on eating more vegetables, but does that mean we go for whatever salad there is on the menu? It’s important to pick the right kind of vegetables to eat based on their nutritional content. Studies have shown that vitamin C is important to lose fat. Individuals with low vitamin C levels were resistant to fat mass loss, while those who had adequate levels burned 30% more fat in comparison. Vitamin C might also reduce the glycemic index of meals, which makes your feel full for a long time and prevents overeating.6 Vitamin C rich vegetables include red pepper, peas, broccoli, tomato and spinach.
Legumes are high-protein options that come with the added benefits of iron, b vitamins, fiber, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. They are also low in saturated fats.7 Fiber is also vital to weight loss. It makes you feel full and ensures slow burn of macro nutrients so you burn most of the calories you eat.8 Hence adding lentils and beans to your diet might help you lose that stubborn fat while maintaining your body’s nutritional needs.9
Berries like cherries and blueberries are rich in fiber and vitamin C, both of which are vital to losing weight. Besides controlling hunger and lowering glycemic index of foods, vitamin C reduces cortisol, the “stress hormone.”10 Studies have shown that stress increases abdominal fat distribution.11 Hence, choosing to eat berries during breakfast or as snacks can help you lose that belly bulge.
Although most popular for its protein content, dairy’s calcium content is what will help you lose that belly fat. But, be sure to opt for the fortified kind that has added vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients. Studies show that supplementation of calcium and vitamin D promotes weight loss from abdominal areas.12
After going at length to cut out fats from our list of foods, it might seem surprising to find high fat nuts as a suggestion. However, nuts are high in fiber, protein and monounsaturated fats. Diets high in protein and monounsaturated fats have contributed to weight loss.13 Nuts also fill you up and give you much needed energy. Regular nut consumption might help in regulating weight.14
Six pack abs might seem like a distant dream, especially when all the hard work that goes into the gym doesn’t seem to pay off. But, with continued exercise and the right diet, you’re sure to get their in no time.
|↑1||Halton, Thomas L., and Frank B. Hu. “The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 23, no. 5 (2004): 373-385.|
|↑2||Pesta, Dominik H., and Varman T. Samuel. “A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats.” Nutrition & metabolism 11, no. 1 (2014): 53.|
|↑3||Weight loss and carbohydrates. Victoria State Government.|
|↑4||Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑5||Jonnalagadda, Satya S., Lisa Harnack, Rui Hai Liu, Nicola McKeown, Chris Seal, Simin Liu, and George C. Fahey. “Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains—summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium.” The Journal of nutrition 141, no. 5 (2011): 1011S-1022S.|
|↑6||Johnston, Carol S. “Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24, no. 3 (2005): 158-165.|
|↑7||Healthy food trends — beans and legumes. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑8||Slavin, Joanne L. “Dietary fiber and body weight.” Nutrition 21, no. 3 (2005): 411-418.|
|↑9||McCrory, Megan A., Bruce R. Hamaker, Jennifer C. Lovejoy, and Petra E. Eichelsdoerfer. “Pulse consumption, satiety, and weight management.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 1, no. 1 (2010): 17-30.|
|↑10||Peters, E. M., R. Anderson, D. C. Nieman, H. Fickl, and V. Jogessar. “Vitamin C supplementation attenuates the increases in circulating cortisol, adrenaline and anti-inflammatory polypeptides following ultramarathon running.” International journal of sports medicine 22, no. 07 (2001): 537-543.|
|↑11||Moyer, Anne E., Judith Rodin, Carlos M. Grilo, Nancy Cummings, Lynn M. Larson, and Marielle Rebuffé‐Scrive. “Stress‐Induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women.” Obesity 2, no. 3 (1994): 255-262.|
|↑12||Rosenblum, Jennifer L., Victor M. Castro, Carolyn E. Moore, and Lee M. Kaplan. “Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is associated with decreased abdominal visceral adipose tissue in overweight and obese adults.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 95, no. 1 (2012): 101-108.|
|↑13||Parker, Barbara, Manny Noakes, Natalie Luscombe, and Peter Clifton. “Effect of a high-protein, high–monounsaturated fat weight loss diet on glycemic control and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 25, no. 3 (2002): 425-430.|
|↑14||Mattes, Richard D., Penny M. Kris-Etherton, and Gary D. Foster. “Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1741S-1745S.|