Looking for the best way to get abs? Want an overall trimmer tummy? Remember, you can’t crunch your way to fab abs because flat abs are made in the kitchen—not the gym.
I’m always interested in studies that show the types of diets and foods associated with the smallest waistlines. With the majority of studies so far, below are four key principles to follow to get the abs you want.
What’s more, research published in JAMA from the Centers for Disease Control report that 54% of US adults have abdominal obesity, up from 46% in 2000. Abdominal obesity is defined as a waist of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. Large waistlines are in independent risk factor for heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes.
Here are some of the best and worst foods for flat abs.
- Reduce overall calories to promote fat loss. Excess fat is quickly mobilized from the middle, so you’ll quickly see changes to your mid-section, if you lose just a few pounds. If you want to see real definition in your abs, women need to get to less than 20% total body fat.
- Reduce or eliminate nutrient-poor carbohydrates (read: candy, soda, baked goods). Simple sugars cause rapid rises in blood sugar and have been linked to excess belly fat. To know the 46+ names food manufacturers use for sugars in their product, use this tool.
- Keep saturated fat to recommended levels (7-10% of total calories) Again, saturated fat has been shown to be linked to larger waistlines, so eat more poly and monounsaturated fats in place of foods rich in sat fats.
- Avoid man-made trans fats, which are still in many foods. To tell if a processed food contains trans fats, look for partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list. If it contains PHOs, don’t eat it.
- Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in these foods are consistently associated with smaller waistlines.
- Enjoy nonfat or lowfat plain Greek yogurt. Yogurt may help whittle your middle and the beneficial probiotics may help alter your gut bacteria to keep your GI tract healthy.
Julie Upton, MS, RD