Many people say that “abdominals are made in the kitchen, not in the gym,” and there’s a lot of truth to that. You can do thousands of reps of ab work every week, but if your nutrition is not in order, you can forget about getting a great set of 6-pack abs.
Here are my 7 nutrition secrets for great abs:
1. Eat about 15-20% below your calorie maintenance level. If you use a more aggressive calorie deficit of 25-30%, then do not keep calories too low for too long; increase your calories to maintenance or maintenance +10-15% 1-2 days per week.
2. Spread your calories into 5-6 smaller meals instead of 2-3 big ones. Be very conscious of portion size. If you eat too much of anything (even “healthy” food), you can say goodbye to your abs.
3. Eat a source of complete, high quality lean protein with each meal (egg whites, lean meat, fish, protein powder, etc.)
4. Choose natural, complex carbs such as vegetables, oatmeal, yams, potatoes, beans, brown rice and whole grains. Start with approximately 50% of your calories from natural carbs and reduce carbs slightly (especially late in the day) if you are not losing fat.
5. Avoid refined, simple carbs that contain white flour or white sugar.
6. Keep total fats low and saturated fats low. Aim for 20% of your total calories from fat (and no more than 30%). A little bit of “good fat” like flaxseed oil, fish fat, nuts and seeds, and so on, is better than a no-fat diet. Essential fatty acids actually assist the fat burning process.
7. Drink plenty of water—a gallon a day is a good ballpark to shoot for if you are physically active.