Discover the diet that will get you sexy by summer. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Building abs is a lot like building wealth. The experts say slow and steady is the key—your dividends paying off after months of hard work. And they’re right: A lifetime of good habits leads to long-term weight loss. But sometimes, you just can’t wait. Sometimes, the bill is due. Sometimes, the sun is shining, the beach is calling, and you haven’t exercised all winter.
Sometimes, you need to lose that belly—now!
Here’s how to make that happen.
Test panelists on the Zero Belly Diet, the latest New York Times bestseller from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko, lost up to 16 pounds in 14 days—specifically from their formerly blubbery, now-tight-and-toned middles. Adopt these 7 essential eating strategies—compliments of the book and Men’s Fitness—to keep your body guessing and your abs growing well in time for beach season. And click here for the full Zero Belly Diet plan, and start losing weight while eating the foods you love!
ABS HABIT #7
Don’t Slack on Snacks
So you’re proud you never snack between meals? Sadly, that very ascetic approach to eating may be why you can’t lose weight. Most people consume the bulk of their calories in two or three large meals each day—often in an attempt to slim down—going for hours at a time eating nothing in between. The problem: When your snacking is lacking, so is your body’s ability to burn fat—the key to long-term ab-itude. A nutritious meal or snack about every three hours keeps blood-sugar levels stable, feeds your body a steady stream of necessary nutrients and helps control hunger-induced cravings for sweets and fats.
Do This Now: Make your meals mini and spread them out. If you have trouble fitting in extra eating times at work, prepare food ahead of time that you can zap in the microwave or eat cold.
ABS HABIT #6
Don’t Play the Hunger Game
Remember this: every time you feel hungry, your abs are being covered with fat. Let us repeat that: every time you feel hungry, your abs are being covered with fat. Hunger means that your body is running low on nutrients, and it’s beginning to break down stored muscle for energy. Hunger pangs are your body’s last-ditch efforts to convince you to eat. So eat!
Do This Now: Stay ahead of the curve by eating before your stomach starts growling. If you’re pressed for time, consider the following: A meal can consist of a four-ounce chicken breast, a small baked potato and a salad, all of which can be made the night before and require minimal preparation time. Or try the super-effective, ab-defining “75/25” rule and learn How Maria Menounos Dropped 40 Pounds!
ABS HABIT #5
Eat for Your Ideal Weight
Here’s a cool Zero Belly trick: Ask yourself, “How much do I want to weigh?” Then take that ideal weight, multiply it by 0.8, and boom: you know how much protein to eat daily. For example, if your ideal weight is 170 pounds, your daily protein requirement would be 136 grams. Let’s say you eat 5 times a day—well, that’s about 27 grams of protein per meal. That’s what you’ll get from about one small can of water-packed tuna or four slices of turkey breast deli meat. Lunch, done.
Do This Now: While eating anything raises your metabolic rate, protein boosts it the most, and is essential to building fat-frying muscle. Eat chicken, turkey, beef, egg whites and cottage cheese—all high-rev foods.
ABS HABIT #4
Diversify Your Carbs
Modern diet gurus have made carbs seem so scary, it’s no wonder the health-conscious among us are afraid to venture too far from the quinoa. But new research shows that your fat-burning system actually operates better when you keep it guessing, so don’t let yourself get caught in a rut. Eating a variety of carbs, even some simple sugars, is desirable for athletes, according to the the journal Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Keep in mind, that’s not an invitation to gorge on Froot Loops or candy bars.
Do This Now: Foods like potatoes, brown rice, pasta and vegetables should make up the bulk of your carbs. As a rule, you shouldn’t eat more than two or three grams of carbs per pound of body weight. For the full list of what to eat for rapid weight loss, check out our essential 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days!
ABS HABIT #3
Eat “Wet” Carbs at Night
What’s a “wet” carb? We’re talking carbs that have high amounts of water in them, such as cucumbers, leafy green salads, tomatoes and steamed asparagus. Avoid “dry” carbs like pasta and bread. The reason: High-fiber, low-water foods leach water out of your system; wet carbs, on the other hand, allow you to maintain relatively adequate levels of water during the night since you can’t drink while you sleep. Staying hydrated overnight means your body will continue to get the nourishment it needs to unveil your abs even while you’re dreaming of a faraway beach.
Do This Now: Also get in the habit of eating fish as part of your last meal of the day. Fish makes for a lighter meal, and it’s a good way to replenish your protein stores while getting essential fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna) per week.
ABS HABIT #2
Make a Muscle Mix
Your first meal when you wake up and the first meal you have after working out should contain your largest carb intakes of the day. Your body’s glycogen stores are depleted when you wake up; replenishing them quickly is crucial to physical and mental functioning. A serious workout session depletes glycogen stores as well.
Do This Now: Consume a mix of simple and complex carbs along with a protein within 60 minutes after a workout to restore your energy and ensure long-term muscle recovery. We suggest the Best Weight-Loss Smoothie Recipe Ever, compliments of Zero Belly.
ABS HABIT #1
Develop a Drinking Habit
When you eat carbs, they get turned into one of two things: energy, or fat. That’s all the options your body has. But here’s something you might not know: If you’re not drinking ample water, your body may have to store carbs as fat. You body cannot efficiently change carbs into energy without ample water. And, according to the Journal Physiology of Sport and Exercise, you can’t deliver essential amino acids to muscle tissue without adequate water, either. Not only will your workout sessions suffer, but insufficient liquids in your body will also hinder fat breakdown.
Do This Now: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty—thirst signals the first stage of dehydration, which means you’re already too late, and your body has entered fat-storage mode. Try to get at least 10 cups of water per day, although up to a gallon is okay. If you want an added weight loss boost, switch to one of the magical 5 Teas That Melt Fat Fast.
AND FOR 7 MORE OF THE BEST EATING HABITS THAT WILL UNCOVER YOUR ABS BY SUMMER, CLICK HERE!
More from David Zinczenko!
Story courtesy of Men’s Fitness.