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.
Though described unappetizingly by some as a cross between a watery potato and an apple, jicama is fiber- and mineral- rich, has a great, crisp texture, and a neutral flavor, making it a healthy way to feel full for longer (and eat less, allowing you to stay trim and . And luckily, many grocery stores now carry it in their produce section.
Here's a simple, delicious, high-nutrition but low-calorie recipe that will complement your big green salad and protein shake for dinner:
Slice the Jicama length-wise into sticks that are a quarter-inch square in profile, as you would a potato when making fries. Rub each one with lemon juice, then add at bit of cayenne pepper and a small amount of sea salt. Enjoy as a snack, an appetizer or as a side with dinner.
For more tips on leaning out to help expose those abdominal muscles, checkout this episode of 'Thrive Forward.'
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete, a two- time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called VEGA, and the best-selling author of the Thrive book series. He is also the developer of the acclaimed ZoN Thrive Fitness program and the creator of Thrive Foods Direct national meal delivery service. He also just launched 'Thrive Forward,' an online video series on wellness.
Recognized as the world's foremost authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, Brendan works with NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA, Tour De France, and Olympic athletes and is a guest lecturer at Cornell University, where he presents an eCornell module entitled "The Plant-Based Diet and Elite Athleticism."
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