Eat your way to Abs
Even the best of ab exercises isn't going to show a six pack if your diet isn't right. You need to reduce body fat – for women below 15% and for men below 9%. Which means consuming the right amount of proteins, cutting down on the calories and eating the right sorts of fats will help you eat your way to abs.
Eating protein will help your burn calories as it has a higher 'Thermic Effect of Food' (TEF) which means in order to digest, process and store the food the body uses energy above its metabolic rate resulting in 20-35% of calories being burnt through processing. Compared to 5-15% in carbs and 0 –5% in Fats.
The other plus is that protein keeps you fuller for longer as it slows down digestion, making you less likely to consume more calories compared to eating a high amount of carbs which makes you hungrier in a shorter space of time.
Consume lean protein such as chicken, eggs (whites), white fish, turkey and whey protein to help you reduce fat whilst maintaining muscle mass. Protein is essential for helping the muscles to repair and grow after intense workouts. Consume protein within an hour after a workout to promote muscle synthesis and to reduce your body from using its own muscle tissue for energy.
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Some fat intake is healthy and actually essential for your weight loss journey. That being said, stick to heathy, unprocessed fats such as omega 3s (ALA, DHA, EPA) trans-fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and monounsaturated fats (OEA) which can be found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, avocados, nuts, olive oil and seeds. Steer away from processed, saturated fats that can be found in pizzas, burgers, snacks & sweets.
CLA is one of the more talked about fats which you can buy in supplements, mainly because its been found to burn fat as well as improve heart health and contains anti-cancer qualities. Research shows that animal sources that are grass-fed (as opposed to corn-fed) contain higher levels of CLA such as in beef, eggs & milk.
Another popular healthy fat at the moment is Coconut oil. It is half made up of lauric acid which is known for fighting off infections and killing bacteria, not only this but it increases 24 hour energy expenditure helping you burn more calories - as well as having added benefits for your skin, hair and mind.
To help burn fat and to reveal abs, you must reduce carb intake. The definition of carbs is often mistaken, with a lot of people defining carbs as white bread, pasta or potatoes. But nearly all foods contain some form of carbs, and you will be surprised how much carbs are in some fruit and vegetables. Instead concentrate on the type of carbs, take out refined carbs such as the above and opt for carbs that have fiber like whole grains, vegetables and fruit. The fiber reduces bloating and aids digestion but its also proven high fiber specifically reduces fat in the abdominal region helping show off them abs. Unused energy from high carbohydrate intake turns into fat storage so take up high intensity cardio to reduce the calories back into a deficit.
Hydrate & avoid Salts & Sodium
Reduce Salt and Sodium intake in your die as it can lead to water retention, inflammation, bloating and other health conditions if taken in high dosages. Some foods are high in salt and sodium such as; soy sauce, canned soups/ vegetables, processed meats, frozen meals and breads. They may not taste salty but in order to taste good and to prolong their shelf life these foods contain preserving ingredients – so opt for fresh ingredients and limit highly processed foods. And it may seem obvious, but keeping hydrated is essential for flushing out toxins and helping keep your body digested.