The Abs diet emphasizes frequent nourishment, with three meals and three snacks a day. Making sure to include two or three items from a list of 12 Abs Diet powerfoods each time is an integral aspect of the program.
The big claim is you can lose up to 12 pounds of belly fat in the first two weeks. Since carrying fat around the midsection raises the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes (1), getting rid of that spare tire is important for more reasons than how you look in a swimsuit.
Plenty of protein in the Abs diet is sure to banish hunger pangs; the 6-week plan is billed as a direct route to 6-pack abs. Exercise is a vital component, considered as important to firming up your abs as the right nutrition.
Created by the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, David Zinczenko, the Abs diet allows a cheat meal each week, which Zinczenko believes is essential for sticking with the plan. Heading off cravings by indulging in favorite foods that aren’t on the plan can help dieters make it to the six-week mark. (2)
With a dozen Powerfoods to choose from, it should be easy to settle on a couple of these to include with each meal or snack.
Many of the choices are high in fiber, which has been shown to improve success for dieters in trimming body fat. (3)
Zinczenko says meals should include protein, fat and carbohydrates, and every snack also needs to contain at least a little protein to rev up the fat-burning process and promote lean muscle growth. (4)
Here’s the Powerfood list:
- Almonds and other nuts of your choice
- Beans and legumes
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese and milk
- Instant oatmeal; unflavored and unsweetened
- Turkey and lean meats like steak, fish and shellfish
- Peanut butter, the natural kind with no added sugar; cashew and almond butter are also acceptable
- Olive oil
- Breads and cereals made solely from whole grains, including brown rice and whole wheat pasta
- Extra-protein whey powder
- Raspberries and other varieties of berries, along with most other fruits
There’s no need to count calories as long as you follow the guidelines. With three snacks and three meals each day, you won’t go hungry, nor will you be tempted to overeat.
Eating often is important because it helps preserve muscle mass as you burn off fat. (5)
Drinking plenty of water is also recommended, but you’ll have to keep alcoholic beverages down to 2 or 3 over a week’s time. (6)
The Big Picture
You knew there was going to be a hands-off list, so let’s have a look at it:
- Baked goods and other foods made with refined carbohydrates
- White rice and pasta made from refined grains
- Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, including any foods containing either one
- Margarine, saturated fat, trans fats, and any food made with hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Fried foods
- Whole fat dairy products
- Fatty meats like bacon and high-fat deli meats
If you commit to the six-week program, you’re going to have to leave these foods alone for best results. The exception would be including something from the hands-off list in your weekly cheat meal, but don’t go overboard with it or you’re likely to sabotage yourself.
Following the guidelines for six weeks can give you fast results in trimming and firming your abdomen; Zinczenko believes including foods from the Power 12 list ongoing will help keep that weight off by providing you with a healthy eating plan you can adopt for life.
During the first two weeks of the diet, you can skip the exercise if you want to, although walking is encouraged during this initial phase. After that, you need to include strength training and abdominal workouts in order to achieve that six-pack look and feel.
Strength and resistance training are an integral part of the exercise program, and it’s important to wait 48 hours between sessions that target any one part of the body. This allows time for necessary repairs to tissues, as well as adding muscle and jacking up metabolism. (7)
You’ll only need to do crunches and other ab exercises twice a week; fitting those in before doing your strength training is the best bet. A detailed workout plan recommended for accompanying the diet is available on the Men’s Health website, with home options for those who aren’t using a gym. (8)
Cardio workouts are also part of the exercise plan; brisk walking, bicycling, swimming or other moderate activities are on the suggestion list to help get you rolling. Using cardio machines at the gym is also a good option.
The Benefit Package
You’ll get more than a flat, muscled belly if you follow this program. Using the combined approach of including Powerfoods with every meal and snack, and engaging in the recommended exercise can help you achieve your personal goals and improve overall health.
Studies show that combining exercise with a healthy diet is the best way to drop excess weight; (9 ) the trick is keeping it off. Most dieters who stick with a plan for fifteen weeks lose about 10 pounds, but gain back about half of it by the time they reach the one year mark. (10)
Building muscle while burning off fat is the perfect way to turn these odds in your favor so you won’t find yourself back where you started a couple of years up the road. Increasing muscle mass enhances the metabolic process of utilizing fat for fuel (11), which always works in your favor for weight control.
The American Heart Association states that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing heart disease, and can help lower blood pressure as well as dropping your chances of suffering a stroke. (12)
Generous amounts of fiber included on the Abs diet can also yield significant health benefits. Increased fiber intake is associated with weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity in both diabetics and non-diabetics, and helps protect against gastrointestinal disorders like constipation, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and duodenal ulcers. (13)
Summary: Go ahead, spend six weeks cultivating that muscle tone you always wanted in your midsection. Keep the habit of regular exercise and the positive changes in your diet, and the Abs program can set you up to reap rewards for the rest of your life. It just may be the best six pack abs diet out there.
10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9347414 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24739257