To get six-pack abs that you can show off in warm weather, you have to do more than work out – you have to pay attention to your diet! You might need to change your eating habits to make sure you’re getting the right number of calories and eating at the right time. Eating protein consistently throughout the day can help burn fat and expose your abs. Your body also needs the right type and amount of carbs to help burn fat and build muscle. What you drink and how often is important for losing weight and revealing your abs, too.
EditChanging Your Eating Habits
- Determine how many calories you really need each day. The number of calories you need per day will depend a lot on your general lifestyle. When calculating the numbers of calories you need, you should take into account how much you exercise, the type of job you have, and how much you move in general.
- Calorie intake for very active people (who exercise more than an hour a day) should range between 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Women should stay in the 2,000 to 2,500 range, and men in the 2,500 to 3,000 range.
- Women who are moderately active should consume 1,900 calories per day. Men who are moderately active should consume 2,500 calories per day.
- People who are slightly active are those that take 5,000 to 8,000 steps per day. If you’re in that range you should stick to 1,800 calories (for women) or 2,200 calories (for men).
- Women who are mostly sedentary should consume 1,600 calories a day. Sedentary men should consume 1,800 calories per day.
- Eat less food more often during the day. Eating a healthy meal or snack every 3 hours helps your muscles store sugar more effectively. That helps maintain your muscle tone and can make your abs more prominent. Instead of eating 2 to 3 meals a day, eat 5 to 6 times daily. You can break your normal meals in half, or have 2 to 3 snacks in between meals.
- Your meals shouldn’t be as big as when you eat 2 to 3 times per day if you’re eating 5 to 6 times per day.
- For example, you can eat some oatmeal, a slice of whole wheat toast and fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and grilled chicken, brown rice, and steamed vegetables for dinner. In between each meal, have snacks like yogurt, fresh fruit, and raw vegetables with hummus.
- Eat your lightest meal at the end of the day. If you load up on too many carbs or calories during your last meal of the day, your body won’t have enough time to convert it into usable energy before you go to sleep. Instead, focus on a protein-heavy, carb-light meal with plenty of veggies.
- Cucumbers, leafy-green salads, and tomatoes will give you some carbs without filling you up too much.
- A great last meal for the day might include a piece of fish like salmon or tuna and lots of leafy veggies like spinach.
EditUsing Protein to Build Ab Muscle
- Eat protein at every meal. Your muscles burn calories even when they’re at rest. That means you need to replenish them pretty regularly. Chicken, turkey, egg whites, and cottage cheese are all good sources of protein that are easy to incorporate into any meal.
- Calculate how much protein you need. The amount of protein your body actually needs to maintain muscle mass depends on your optimal weight. Multiple your optimal weight by 0.8 (the amount of protein you should have per pound of body weight) to determine how many grams of protein you should eat.
- For example, if your ideal weight is 150 lbs, multiple that by 0.8, for a total of 120. So each day, you should eat of protein, spread over 5 or 6 meals, for a total of of protein per meal.
- Add more fish to your diet. Salmon and tuna are both great sources of healthy protein. They also slow digestion and can prevent cravings. Instead of serving up chicken at every meal, try adding in some fish. You can serve them on salads or grilled or baked for a main course.
- Use lentils instead of other grains. Lentils are high in protein and are also pretty filling. You can add them to a salad for extra protein. You can also use them in place of other grains in your meals. This decreases your carb intake and increases your protein at the same time.
- For example, instead of serving grilled chicken on a bed of brown rice or whole wheat pasta, serve it on top of a bed of lentils.
- Try yogurt. Yogurt actually has more protein than an egg, so it’s a great breakfast option. Yogurt is also versatile, so you can eat it in a lot of different ways.
- For example, add some yogurt to your favorite morning smoothie recipe.
- You can also dip berries in yogurt for a great afternoon snack.
- Eat beans for protein. Beans are a great source of protein, and they’re a great addition to any vegetarian diet. You can add beans to salads, eat them as a side, or make them your main protein source in a meal. Edamame, mung, black, and kidney beans are great protein sources.
- Don’t forget your veggies. Some veggies are packed with protein. This is important to know if you’re looking to get abs and stick to a vegetarian diet. Spinach, black beans, edamame, lima beans, and corn are all great sources of protein.
EditEating Healthy Carbs
- Make sure you eat carbs in the morning. When you wake up after a night’s sleep, your glycogen stores – the sugar your body operates on – are severely depleted. If you include carbs in your first meal of the day, you can replenish these stores.
- Diversify the carbs you eat. It can be easy to pick a carb you like – say, brown rice – and eat that at every meal. But if you do that, your body can get stuck in a carb rut, and might not process the carbs as effectively.
- For example, if you have whole wheat pasta 2 or 3 days in a row, have brown rice the next day, and then maybe potatoes after that.
- You should also get carbs from vegetables. Some vegetables, like bell peppers and broccoli, are a good source of healthy carbs.
- Try bananas for a snack. Bananas are high in resistant starch, which is a type of healthy carbohydrate. Your body will digest the resistant starch slowly, which makes you feel full for longer. Have a banana for one of your snacks and add more carbs to your diet.
- Eat whole grains. You can still have pasta and bread while you’re working on your abs. You just have to switch to the whole wheat version of your favorites. Whole wheat products are full of healthy carbs, which keep you fuller longer and can help with digestion.
- You can try whole wheat spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce for a healthy alternative on nights you want pasta.
EditWatching Your Liquid Intake
- Drink plenty of water. Your body needs water to convert carbs into energy. It’s important to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day to burn fat and maintain your muscles. You should be drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. If you feel thirsty, drink water before you try anything else, including tea, coffee, and soft drinks.
- You can also drink sparkling water and unsweetened tea and coffee.
- Cut back on your alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can prevent your body from losing fat, since your body will burn alcohol as energy before anything else. Cut back on how much you drink each day – try to stick to 1 to 2 drinks per day. You should also avoid mixed drinks – drinks like margaritas or drinks with mixers tend to have more sugar in them than wine or beer alone.
- Drink ginger tea to reduce belly bloat. A bloated belly will cover up your abs, no matter how much work you’ve done. Make a simple ginger tea by adding ground or fresh ginger to a cup of boiling water. Then let it steep for a few minutes.
- Peppermint and chamomile tea can help reduce bloating, too.