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.
Green tea is thermogenic, which means it's a substance that induces your body to jack up its temperature, and, as a result, your metabolism. Therefore, green tea will actually help your body shift from relying only on carbohydrates to also burning fat for energy. (And since green tea naturally contains caffeine, it acts as a mild appetite suppressant.) For endurance athletes, this is a huge advantage, as it means they can go farther on less fuel, because the body is burning stored fat in lieu of stored carbs in the muscles. According to a Japanese study, green tea can actually help you go farther, while burning more fat, which will of course eventually better expose those abs you're so diligently working out. In order to notice an effect though, the research suggests you'd need to become a green tea devotee, consuming four cups per day, every day (no cheating either: mega-doses of green tea extract apparently don't count).
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