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.
A little secret to a six pack is that a prerequisite is getting below 10 percent body fat. This means you not only have to shed old fat, but you also have to prevent new fat from being packed on. Regularly eating hearty dark greens like kale and spinach offers two major appetite-suppressing attributes that are key to leaning out: They are mineral-rich, which helps turn off your hunger signal, and also full of fiber, which means they'll physically fill your stomach for longer periods. Greens don't have much in the way of carbohydrates, though, so a good strategy is to eat most of your greens later in the day, when your fueling requirements have already been met. A big green salad is ideal for dinner.
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