For many active people, six-pack abs represent the holy grail of athleticism. Why? Because six-pack abs are both rare and demonstrate a visible commitment to eating well and exercising regularly. They’re also incredibly sexy.
Unfortunately, it takes a lot of work to get your body to a place where abdominal muscles are visible. But there are a number of steps you can take to get this very attractive and enviable look…
Cook for Yourself
Here’s the problem with going out to eat all of the time: no matter how healthy a menu claims to be, you don’t really know what’s going into your food. A chef may claim to use all kinds of healthy ingredients, but they may also be adding lots of salt, oil, butter, sugar and other unhealthy items to your food.
That’s why it’s best to eat at home whenever possible. Cook your own meals using lots of fruits and vegetables and as little oil, salt, sugar and butter as possible. That way you can better monitor your food intake and inch closer to the six-pack abs you desire.
Eat Lots of Greens
There are few food items healthier than leafy greens, which contain zero fat and almost no calories. What they do boast is lots of nutrients, including high amounts of calcium and dietary fiber, which can keep you feeling full longer.
So, next time you make a stir fry, pasta sauce or salad, reach for spinach, kale, or broccoli—all of which have the compounds necessary to cut fat and expose those abdominal muscles. The good news is you really can’t eat too much of this stuff.
Keep Sugar at Bay
Here’s the problem with sugar: if you eat it and don’t do something physically active—like go for a brisk walk, bike ride, or run—your body will convert it to fat. Most men and many women will then see that fat stored right on their belly, making it impossible for anyone to see our abdominal muscles, no matter how built they may be.
If you simply must have sugar, try “pure” or “raw” sugars, which don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup and won’t send your insulin levels skyrocketing. However, it’s best to get your sugar through fruits, like apples, pears, and bananas, all of which contain lots of filling natural fiber.
It’s really easy to gain weight when all you drink are sugary, high-calorie beverages like iced tea and soda. But it’s not just pop that’s a problem—many people add cream and sugar to their hot beverages, including tea and coffee. Also, keep in mind that many fruit juices, like orange juice, apple juice, and fruit punch are also loaded with sugar.
That’s why it’s important to drink lots of water, which contains no fat or sugar. Water can also keep our energy and hydration levels up and make us feel full, making it easier to say no to that unhealthy snack.
Eat Less Food
There’s really no way around it: if you want to have six-pack abdominal muscles, you have to have very low body fat levels (10-percent or less for men; 20-percent or less for women). Unfortunately, you just can’t hit those rock-bottom body fat levels without eating less food.
That’s why it’s so important to eat foods that will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, including food items that are high in fiber. You should also drink lots of water, which will make you feel full and keep your metabolism up. Finally, avoid going for seconds—make yourself one plate of food at each meal and stick to it.
Don’t Deprive Yourself
You know the saying—“everything in moderation, even moderation.” That should be a key part of your dietary outlook when pursuing the perfect six-pack abs. Yes, it’s vital that you eat healthy (and less). But it’s also important that you not deny yourself the foods you love all of the time.
Problem is, swearing off delicious but unhealthy foods—from pie to cake and donuts—altogether will only result in binge-eating and self-loathing. It’s a lousy approach to diet and exercise that will only make you feel worse. So, once in a while feel free to treat yourself, just don’t make a regular habit of it.