According to Marc Perry, a top personal trainer and fitness expert in New York City and the founder and CEO of BuiltLean, if you want to achieve a six-pack, in addition to working hard in the gym, there are certain “fat-promoting” foods that you should definitely cut out of your diet. He recommends avoiding what he calls “empty carbs” that come from refined grains, added sugars and calorie-dense fatty foods and instead focusing on nutrient- and protein-rich whole foods that are mostly low in calories and will keep you feeling full and satiated so you won’t be tempted to overeat. The following 10 foods are specific examples of what Perry recommends you entirely avoid, along with suggestions for what to eat instead.
Almost no one wants to be told that bagels are off limits, but if six-pack abs are part of your goal then part of your nutritional strategy should include cutting them (and other similar foods) out of your diet. “A bagel is roughly 250 calories and provides almost no nutrients, or fiber,” Perry said.
“Eggs, on the other hand, are packed with nutrients, healthy fats and protein,” Perry explained. “A few eggs are also less than 250 calories. One research study showed that people who eat eggs for breakfast consumed fewer calories later at a lunch buffet, and less in the next 24 hours. Another study looked at the difference between eating eggs, cereal or a croissant for breakfast, with the group that ate eggs eating less calories throughout the day. A high protein diet helps satisfy your hunger to a greater degree than empty carbs.”
“A 12-ounce bottle of beer is about 150 calories, with about 90 of those calories coming from alcohol,” Perry said. “Alcohol is broken down into the body into acetaldehyde, which gets further broken down to acetate. Because the body sees these by-products as dangerous, it wants to use them as fuel. This means your body will significantly blunt fat-burning close to 75 percent after just one and a half drinks.” At the end of the day, Perry explained, research has clearly shown that alcohol greatly inhibits your body’s ability to lose fat.
Sure, you’ll want to increase your protein intake if you want to build more muscle definition, but Perry says you should steer clear of protein bars because they are often loaded with questionable ingredients, added sugar and many times only include a small amount of protein. “At around 200 calories or more, the average protein bar also doesn't fill you up very much because they are essentially candy bars with some protein added,” he said.
"Instead, an apple is an easy to eat, on-the-go snack, contains fiber, which helps fill you up, and only runs you about a hundred calories," Perry said. "Apple's also contain vitamin C and may offer numerous health benefits."
While you’re after those six-pack abs, Perry says you’ll have to pass on the fries when you’re out to eat. “Instead of getting a burger with fries, a burger with salad is a far better option. A large serving of French fries can total 500 calories and contains trans fats, which are associated with obesity and diabetes,” he said. “French fries also score very high on the glycemic index, so they may not satisfy appetite and cause more eating later in the day.”
“A salad on the other hand, with a leafy base such as mesculin, contains only 10 calories per cup and is packed with nutrients and fiber,” Perry said. “Add in some veggies and dressing, and you will have a healthful side dish that is low-calorie, but can fill you up.”
“While ice cream tastes great, the combination of high levels of sugar and fat make it very calorie-dense,” Perry explained. “A cup of Ben & Jerry's is around 500 calories and contains nearly 50 grams of sugar—more than what you want for an entire day—along with 30 grams of fat.”