Your Ab Workout Starts in the Kitchen: 10 Foods that Will Help You Attain a Chiseled 6-Pack
While exercising does reduce body fat overall, eating the right foods is also important. Hidden underneath that bulging waistline are lean abs – here are the foods you should be including in your diet to boost your ab training’s effectiveness.
Brown and White Fat: Knowing the Difference
The two types of fat are brown fat and white fat. Brown fat, found in the neck and upper back, is good fat because it burns calories by creating thermogenesis.
White fat is also known as visceral fat when it accumulates in the belly. It’s dangerous because it resides deep inside the midsection and surrounds the liver and kidneys. Some visceral fat is normal and necessary to protect the internal organs against injury. Unfortunately, this fat is the culprit in the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers.
Getting rid of stubborn, visceral fat requires hard work, but the results are worth the effort. Eating foods from the list below will help to increase lean muscle mass by reducing your calorie intake.
- Prebiotics and Probiotic Supplements
Prebiotics and probiotics are not foods per se, but should be included because they are so beneficial to gut health. Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep everything running smoothly, and are essential to a healthy immune system.
When there aren’t enough good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, probiotics in supplement form can help restore this imbalance. Prebiotics, which are non-digestible fibers, feed and increase the number of good bacteria. Prebiotics can be found in supplements, or in foods such as artichokes, garlic, asparagus, and bananas.
Oats are an excellent source of prebiotics. Although oats are gluten-free, they are often rotated in soil where other gluten crops were grown. As a precaution, those diagnosed with celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten should therefore purchase oat products labeled gluten-free and certified organic.
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries have approximately 9 grams of fiber per cup, which makes them a healthy and satisfying alternative to sweets. Diets low in added sugar do not trigger the insulin hormone that causes unwanted fat storage. Buy frozen berries or freeze them fresh when they are in season.
- Spinach and Other Leafy Greens
Leafy greens contain potassium, which counteracts bloating from excessive sodium. Collard greens, kale, and spinach are high in fiber and improve digestion. To get the benefits of leafy greens, add about two handfuls in a smoothie or a green juice.
Nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts have healthy fat, high fiber, and plant-based protein. This combination helps to melt inches from the waist. Not only does protein help gain muscle mass – it also helps control blood sugar an bring down insulin levels. Even with healthier fats, limit the 26 almond portion to twice daily. Avoid all salted and roasted nuts in oil because of the additional sodium and fat.
Beans and lentils are high in fiber, a good source of plant-based protein, minerals, and vitamin B. The added benefit of vitamin B is that it builds lean muscle mass and supports the muscular and nervous systems. Get creative and add them to soups, use as the base for dips, and make a crunchy snack by roasting garbanzo beans in the oven.
Eggs are not just for breakfast and are versatile enough to use in a salad or a stir fry. Naturally high in protein, eggs are a portable meal to eat on the go. Keep six boiled eggs in the refrigerator and eat them as a mini meal or snack.
Salmon is widely available at supermarket chains and fish mongers. It is easy to prepare whether on a grill or baked in the oven. When cortisol and insulin levels are raised, they cause inflammation and insulin resistance. Increased cortisol and insulin levels are also responsible for fat storage that result in a larger midsection. Eating salmon reduces this stress hormone and the omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy.
Avocados have mono-unsaturated fatty acids, MUFAs, that are healthier for the heart. The combination of fiber and heart-healthy fat lower the amount of visceral fat in the belly and stave off hunger. Using 2 tablespoons is enough to spread on whole-grain toast instead of butter and makes a smoothie creamier.
- Olive Oil
Olive oil decreases hunger because of feeling fuller longer. Read the label to make sure it states that it is extra virgin and that it is the only ingredient. Like all fats, consume in moderation, because a tablespoon of olive oil is roughly 125 calories. Drizzle on vegetables before grilling or sautéing and create tasty bases for salad dressings.