What to Eat (And What to Avoid) for Six-Pack Abs

A fitness and nutrition experts explains what a 'six-pack abs diet' really looks like

When Marc Perry, a top personal trainer and fitness expert in New York City and the founder and CEO of BuiltLean, talks to his clients about getting six-pack abs, he said he usually has to remind them that they actually already have a six-pack, it’s just hiding under a layer of fat.

So when you say you want six-pack abs, what you’re really saying is that you want to lose fat. This is important to recognize for a few reasons.

First: because you can’t target your fat loss. That’s why, on its own, doing hundreds of crunches every day won’t get you the slim and toned midsection you’re after. If you want a six-pack, you’ll have to shed fat across your entire body.

And second: because to lose body fat, not only will you need to exercise more, but you’ll also need to make sure you’re eating the right foods.

According to Perry, 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.

Avoid: Bagels

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. 

Eat Eggs Instead

“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.”

Click here to see more of what you should eat to get six-pack abs.

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