By Anna Dickens
You’ve probably heard it a million times before, and it’s true: abs are made in the kitchen. Or, as put a different way, abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen. It’s that old 80/20 rule: results are 80 percent nutrition, 20 percent exercise. In other words, if you aren’t seeing progress, stop blaming your trainer and start cutting out the crap from your diet (that’s your cue to put down that cupcake!)
To get some flat-belly pointers, we spoke to the abdominal king himself, Barry’s Bootcamp Nashville trainer Josh Gamble (who, if you don’t know already, was rated one of Shape magazine’s 50 hottest trainers in America!)
According to Josh, in order to sculpt a flat, toned stomach, you need to do two things: burn fat and build muscle. Having low body fat equals more muscle definition. You can religiously attend Hardcore every single Thursday, but your six-pack won’t be visible if it’s hiding beneath layers of fat. And that, friends, is where diet comes into play.
“Aim for fresher and more wholesome choices,” Josh explains. “Healthy fats and lean proteins are good for you. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, and healthy fats help to regulate your hormones that control fat burn.”
To maximize the payoff from your core workouts, incorporate these belly-slimming foods into your diet. Trust us, you’ll be flaunting a six-pack in no time!
Lean Protein: Josh suggests incorporating more lean, high-quality protein into your diet—think chicken breast, fish and lean cuts of beef. By helping build lean muscle mass and keeping you satiated throughout the day, protein accelerates fat burn for a tighter, flatter waistline. Try this yummy Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa.
Nuts: As counterintuitive as this sounds, fats are key for weight loss. But the type of fat matters—you have to select healthy (unsaturated) fats over unhealthy (saturated) fats. Nuts—such as almonds, cashews and walnuts—are a fantastic source of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Be careful, though: nuts are high in calories, so try to limit yourself to a ¼ cup serving (about a small handful).
Yogurt: Another great slimming food, yogurt contains probiotics, a form of “healthy” bacteria that promotes digestion and relieves gas and bloating. Yogurt is also rich in calcium, which is thought to improve your body’s ability to break down fat. Skip sugary blends and stick to plain, low-fat Greek yogurt instead. Bonus: it’s loaded with protein, making it the ideal post-workout snack. These Strawberry Greek Yogurt Popsicles are a wholesome summertime indulgence:
Berries: Eat berries to banish belly bloat. Small but mighty, berries are packed with loads of fiber and antioxidants. Fiber staves off food cravings, while antioxidants have been shown to improve blood flow, helping you get more results from your workouts.
Quinoa: For starters, nutrient-stripped white carbohydrates are your belly’s worst enemy; they can cause blood sugar to skyrocket and are full of empty calories. Quinoa, on the other hand, is your ally in weight loss. This nutrition-packed superfood combines protein, fiber, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates all in one. In research studies, individuals who chose whole-grain products tended to have slimmer tummies and less belly fat than individuals who nibbled refined white bread. So ditch the white rice and whip up a batch of this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad instead.
Green tea: To score a bangin’ six-pack, sip on green tea. Study after study has touted the fat-burning effects of this antioxidant-packed brew, which has been scientifically proven to rev up your metabolism and scorch fat. Can’t stomach the bitter taste of green tea? Green tea supplements will do the trick, too.
The takeaway message? For washboard abs, you’ll need to put in your time at the gym, but you’ll also need to do five reps of “stop-eating-so-much-crap.”
Anna Dickens is a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic, yogi, and writer based in Nashville, TN. She is the digital editor of SpryLiving.com, an online women’s health & fitness publication (follow Spry Living on Facebook and Twitter)