The elusive six-pack is the goal that many fitness enthusiasts are constantly working toward. Even those who can do hundreds of sit-ups without a break may have a hard time getting those defined ab muscles that they desperately work for.
Your abs are always there, but they may not be visible because you have to first get rid of the layer of fat that covers them. Exercise, of course, helps you burn fat and for weight loss while also strengthening and defining your abdominals.
But if your diet is sub-par and you’re eating the wrong foods, all of that work can be in vain.
Everything you put into your body will have an effect and potentially on your belly fat. Some foods can help you burn fat, get ripped, and get your ab muscles defined properly, while other foods will stop your progress and hurt your progress to achieving chiseled abdominal muscles. To help you in your efforts, we’ve compiled a list of foods to avoid for great abs so you know what to stay away from.
Fatty Foods Are Bad For Your Abs
This specific food group is always one of contention and sometimes confusion. Fatty foods should be avoided when trying to lose weight and get your ab muscles to show through, but fat is also a necessary part of your diet.
Some people try to do ab workouts or use ab belts to try and counteract their unhealthy eating. But even the greatest ab exercises and the best ab belt in the world can’t save you from a poor diet. This is where the type of fat you choose to eat comes into play. The amount of fat you eat also has to be taken into account.
There are some types of bad fats that your body will store, rather than burning it for energy. These are saturated fats found in whole dairy products and red meat. Saturated fats lead to weight gain while also increasing your risks for things like stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
The best way to remember this is that saturated fats come from animals or from plant oils that remain liquid at room temperature. Sadly, this is where the confusion comes in.
There are still some good fats that are liquid at room temperature that you can incorporate into your diet in moderation. These are fats including olive oil and foods including fish and walnuts. In general, these are known as unsaturated fats.
They can actually help with weight loss when eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. They can also lower your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Try to limit your unsaturated fat to 20 percent of your daily calories.
Your saturated fat percentage should be much lower around seven percent or less.
Sugary foods are one of the worst contributors to weight gain, believe it or not. This is because the sugar in your body leads to fat accumulation by increasing your blood sugar levels immediately upon eating it.
When this happens, the insulin in your body can’t process the sugar alone. To remedy this, your liver absorbs whatever your body can’t handle. However, your liver doesn’t process the sugar properly. Instead of burning it, the liver turns the sugar into stored fat. That is where the problem begins.
Another issue is that most of the time sugar foods that aren’t natural fruits provide very little nutrients. Therefore, eating those sugary foods isn’t doing anything positive for your health and body. Instead, those foods are just leading to fat accumulation and body weight increase.
This is why sugary foods are sometimes referred to as empty calories. They give you nothing but the calories they’re made up of. The same goes for drinks and soda with high sugar content. Try swapping to a diet soda instead.
If you are watching your calorie intake, these are foods to avoid. You need to consume a calorie deficit for weight loss.
To help your abdominal muscles show through, limit your daily sugar intake to a maximum of five teaspoons a day. This might seem easy enough, but the average person in Western society actually eats around 20 teaspoons of sugar a day without even realizing it.
Keep that in mind as you plan your meals and snacks. While sweeteners are not perfect, they are great alternatives to sugars. They are often included in fitness supplements to give them a sweet taste. Check out our guide to some of the top supplements for abs.
White Carbohydrates & Refined Flour
Low carb fads have taken hold of a lot of dieters and for some good reasons. While carbs are a necessary macronutrient that you need in your body, much like fat, there are good carbs and bad carbs. Refined carbs, ones that have been stripped and processed, cause weight gain and can prevent your abs from showing through.
These bad carbs are usually sugars and products made with white flour. They are processed and are easy for your body to break down. So these nutrients are delivered to your body but take much less energy to process and the carbs end up being stored and absorbed by your body instead of burned. Refined flour also increased your blood sugar which can trigger body fat storage.
Things like white bread, white pasta, and white rice are all carbs that your body digests too quickly causing spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
For that reason, always choose unprocessed carbs like whole grains, brown rice, and vegetables instead of processed and bleached options.
As you can see from the description of refined flour products, the more processed a food is, the more you should avoid it while on your quest for the perfect abs. Whole foods with little to no manufacturing processes are always best for your health. Things like fresh produce, meat, and whole grain products are better than packaged foods. This includes:
- Packaged diet foods
- Junk food (salty snacks, packaged desserts, ice cream etc.)
- Potatoe chips
- Commercial breakfast cereals (especially sugary ones)
- Fruit juices
- Alcohol products
If you’re unsure of whether what you’re eating is processed food or not, just take a look at the ingredients on the package. The longer the ingredients list, the more processed it is. It’s always best to stick to whole foods and lean proteins when trying to maintain your weight and an overall healthy diet.
Unlikely Foods to Avoid
There are some foods that are good for getting ripped but there are also some foods that you might be consuming frequently thinking that they’re perfectly fine, if not helpful for you when trying to get your abs showing. You may find out that you’re eating too many of these foods even while you’re doing endless amounts of crunches, planks, and squats.
One of the most surprising foods on the list is commercially produced peanut butter. Now, peanut butter is constantly promoted as a great alternative to sugary snacks because of its delicious flavor and the fact that it’s packed with protein.
It’s also quite high in saturated fat and sugar. This has already been established as a bad thing in terms of losing weight and achieving picture-perfect abs. Look for natural peanut butter that has undergone the least amount of processing if you can’t give it up.
Beans are another surprising food that you may want to avoid if you’re not seeing the results you expect in the mirror. This is because they cause bloating. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your health, beans can thwart all of your efforts and keep you further away from your goal.
As you can see, there are a lot of foods that you might be eating that are sabotaging your efforts to get great abs. If you find yourself exercising until your core hurts and you’re still not seeing the results you’re after, consider your diet and take out the foods that fit into this list of foods to avoid and see if that makes a difference.