Similar to the adage that an army marches on its stomach, there's a saying in the fitness world that abs are made in the kitchen. And it's largely true. Both strength and aerobic exercise are certainly necessary to build muscle and melt away body fat. But well thought out nutrition has the most significant impact on our ability to develop strong, and – yes, we'll say it – visually appealing abdominals. We assembled six key foods that will complement your strength training and fat-burning exercises and are crucial for the path to a six-pack. But first here are two quick but important tips for gaining results faster:
1) Stress reduction
Cortisol is a stress-triggered hormone triggered which actually encourages your body to hold on to fat – especially around the midsection. Eating a nutrient-dense, plant-based, whole-food diet – fresh fruit, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds – will help significantly reduce nutritional stress, and therefore overall stress.
2) Nutritional timing
Since carbohydrates are your body's primary fuel source, they are best eaten earlier in the day so that they'll get burned off as fuel throughout.
Blood sugar stabilization is an important component to developing and maintaining a lean midsection. Sugar levels that spike and drop in peaks and valleys can mess up insulin levels, causing the body to hold onto fat. Cinnamon is naturally good at maintaining stable blood sugar levels, when consumed with fiber, protein and fat. In a Scandinavian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that three grams of cinnamon (or .6 teaspoons) can reduce blood insulin levels – the hormone responsible for blood glucose levels. An easy way to add it to your diet is to sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon on your morning oatmeal or cereal; it also makes a great and easy addition to smoothies.
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