15 Best Food For 6-Pack Abs

15 Best Food For 6-Pack Abs

You hit the gym religiously, go through countless reps of sit-ups and stability exercises and log tons of time on the treadmill—but still nothing. Nada! Not an ab in sight. Not even a one-pack. It’s disheartening, we know.

The saying “abs are made in the kitchen” is clich√© by now, but its foundation is still true. It doesn't matter how strong your core is, no one will be able to see your abs if you don’t do something about the pesky layer of lard that's sitting on top of it. To beat the belly bulge, you’ll not only have ditch the junk food, you’ll also have to incorporate fare into your diet that boosts metabolism, torches belly fat, wards off future weight gain and banishes bloat. Down them all to trim inches from your waistline and make your abs pop—courtesy of this Eat This, Not That! special report.

1. BELL PEPPERS
Even if you eat well and exercise, constantly pulling your hair out can prevent your abs from showing. When we stress out, the body starts pumping out the hormone cortisol, which encourages the body to store cholesterol-raising fat around the midsection. The good news is that vitamin C-rich foods like peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help keep you trim. How does eating the produce squash stress? According to German researchers, the nutrient can lower levels of cortisol during stressful situations, helping those abs take center stage.

2. EGGS
This breakfast favorite contains a nutrient called choline that boosts metabolism and may help turn off the genes responsible for belly fat storage. Research has also revealed that eating eggs for breakfast instead of a high-carb dish like a bagel can make it easier to lose weight—likely due to egg’s satiety value. Make hard-boiled eggs or whip up a batch of mini frittatas so you can reap the nutrient-packed, ab-shredding benefits on the go.

3. BANANAS
A bloated belly can make even the most toned stomach look a bit paunchy. Fight back against the gas and water retention with bananas. One study found that women who ate a banana twice daily as a pre-meal snack for 60 days reduced their belly-bloat by 50 percent! Not only does the fruit increase bloat-fighting bacteria in the stomach, it’s also a good source of potassium, which can help diminish water retention. Once you’ve kicked the bloat to the curb, you can hit the beach with confidence and show off that hard-earned body!

4. FORTIFIED MILK
Help your six-pack show its full potential with a daily serving of milk and vitamin D-fortified yogurt. A 2013 Nutrition Journal study found consuming a combination of calcium and vitamin D can significantly decrease visceral (abdominal) fat and lipid absorption in overweight populations. To come to this finding, study participants were divided into two groups: The control group was fed a 500-calorie restricted diet without vitamin supplementation. In addition to having 500-calories cut from their diet, the second group was given a 600 mg calcium supplement and a 25 IU vitamin D supplement. At the end of the 12-week experiment, the group who had taken the supplements had lost 2.6 percent of their body fat and 1.1 pounds of visceral fat while the control group only experienced a 1.5 percent decrease in overall body fat and a loss of 0.4 pounds of belly fat.

5. GREEN TEA
Sipping green tea can make your time spent at the gym more worthwhile. A recent 12-week study found that those who sip 4 to 5 cups of green tea each day and log 25-minutes at the gym lose more belly fat than their non-tea-drinking counterparts who also broke a sweat. What makes the drink such a powerful ab-chiseler? This brew contains catechins, an antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat. Not a fan of tea? Munch on fresh pears instead. The fruit is another good source of the antioxidant. Green isn't the only slimming tea on the block, though. Stock your cabinet with these 4 Teas That Melt Fat Fast foreasy slim-down success.

6. LEAN POULTRY
Double-team your belly bulge by eating lean cuts of turkey and chicken every day. Research has found that eating protein not only boosts satiety and helps people eat less at subsequent meals, it also has a high thermogenic effect compared to fats and carbs. Translation: Your body actually burns off a fair percentage the meat’s calories as it digests. Protein can also boost post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35 percent! For the best flab-frying results, experts suggest consuming 0.8 to one gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day.

7. WHOLE WHEAT PASTA
You know brown is better, but do you know why? It’s because whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient rich and fiber-filling. Also try varieties with lentils, chickpeas, black beans or quinoa.

8. ACORN SQUASH
Besides serving up a third of the day’s fiber, a one-cup serving of this highly nutritious, naturally sweet veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. The body uses the nutrient to form muscle and blood vessels, and it can even boost the ab uncovering effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.

9. LEGUMES
Lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans — they're all magic bullets for revealing abs. In one four-week Spanish study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that includes four weekly servings of legumes aids weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet that doesn’t include them. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. To reap the benefits at home, work them into your diet throughout the week. Salad is an easy way. Toss them up with more of the Best Salad Ingredients for Weight Loss!

10. WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
If you’re going for abs, you're already sending the restaurant bread basket back. But don’t shirk from whole-wheat bread completely. As with whole-wheat pasta, you’re getting all three parts of the grain, with fiber to increase satiety and prevent overeating. Just be careful—most breads in the sandwich aisle are filled with high fructose corn syrup or a blend of whole and enriched wheats. It’s worth splurging on the pricier stuff, often found in the freezer section.

11. BLACK BEANS
The simple bean is actually an advanced fat-burning, muscle-building machine. “Beans are a great source of protein that includes fiber,” says Leah Kaufman, a New York City based registered dietitian. “That’s going to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t spike and will give you energy to build the muscle you want.” One cup of black beans has 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber; they’re also rich in folate, a B vitamin that stokes muscle growth, and copper, which strengthens tendons. On top of that, a Spanish study showed that consuming four weekly servings of beans or legumes accelerates weight loss.

12. OATMEAL
Yes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady, ab-muscle-friendly energy. And that fiber is soluble, which lowers the risk of heart disease. The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA's first seal of approval.

13. QUINOA
Quinoa is higher in protein than any other grain, and it packs a hefty dose of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats. "Quinoa is also a great source of fiber and B vitamins," says Christopher Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. a professor of nutrition at the University of Louisville. Try quinoa in the morning. It has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs.

14. KAMUT
Quinoa, make some space at the table—there’s a new ancient grain on the block. Kamut is a grain native to the Middle East. Rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also high in protein while low in calories. A half-cup serving has 30% more protein than regular wheat (six grams), with only 140 calories. Eating kamut reduces cholesterol, blood sugar and cytokines, which cause inflammation throughout the body, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Toss it into salads or eat it as a side dish on its own.

15. CHOCOLATE MILK
Want to know the secret to staying slim? You need more muscle. That’s because muscle burns more calories than fat, so for every new muscle fiber you create, your resting metabolism receives another surge of fat-torching energy. And chocolate milk can help you do that. Researchers have determined that the ideal protein load for building muscle is 10 to 20 grams, half before and half after your workout. How much protein will you find in low-fat chocolate milk? Eight grams per cup. (That means one serving before your workout and one serving after will give you a total of 16 grams of highly effective whey protein—a perfect serving.) Add that to the extra cup you drank first thing in the morning and you’re looking at a turbocharged metabolism that keeps you burning calories all day long.