For part 1 of the ab series, I shared a killer ab workout you can burnout in 11 minutes. I also mentioned that without just as much of effort to changing what goes into your body, you’ll never reap the visual rewards of those 6-pack abs. You’ll feel them hiding under there, maybe even spot a little 2-pack up top, but you’ll fall short of your full potential. Changing your eating habits can be tough — I’ve experienced it firsthand living in South Florida where there’s so much delicious cuisine to choose from! But by introducing these 6 tips into your lifestyle you will start to see a world of a difference in your fitness progress.
1. No fast food — Plan ahead!
Might sound obvious, but these 6 tips wouldn’t be complete without this obvious first step. Plan ahead! This became a necessity for me when I found out I needed to stick to a gluten-free diet. Once “stopping to get a taco” or even “just a small order of fries” was no longer an option, I started getting smarter with my quick snack/meal options. Trust me, I know how convenient it is to stop at a drive-thru on road trips. I am always either on the road or in the sky traveling for work, so I can tell you firsthand that this new habit will be a life changer. Trail mix and my protein powder have become my best friends (I opt to make my own trail mix to cut out much of the sodium found in most premixed bags & also as a way to make it in bulk to be more cost efficient). Also, for the time it takes for you to stop and “run in” to grab a coffee and donut, you could’ve made yourself a quick protein shake at home!
2. Avoid added Salt
This includes prepared foods high in sodium, which is a huge part of tip #1. Excessive sodium intake causes your body to retain water and thus causes water weight. For my body specifically, this is one of the factors that makes the biggest (and quickest) difference in how lean I look. Train your palette not to rely on the masking taste of salt. Use it in the preparation of your food so you can monitor the amount used instead of just shaking it onto your whole plate of dinner. Super salty foods like chips have a way of causing us to overeat because our mind often misinterprets thirst for hunger (more of this in tip #3). While you would think dehydrating your body would lead to the opposite of gained water weight, this is not the case. Remember learning about Osmosis in high school? Through osmosis our body is constantly moving around water to keep the salinity levels balanced. When we intake an excess of salt, water moves out of our bloodstream and into our skin — the cause of that “puffy” look! When we have lowered levels of salt intake this works in the exact opposite way, creating the “lean” look.
3. Avoid added Sugar
Excessive added sugar in your diet can also lead to a terrifying amount of negative health consequences in addition to counteracting your hard work in the gym. Sugar is comprised half of glucose and half fructose. If you are not eating foods naturally containing glucose, your body will convert protein and fat into it in order to keep the body functioning properly. However, if you are also eating a fair amount of processed food products with added sugar, our bodies will not be able to metabolize the excess of fructose and will store it in your body as fat. Your liver is the only organ capable of metabolizing fructose (versus your entire body being able to metabolize glucose), so you can imagine the ramifications for sending so much fructose through your liver! Avoid soda at all costs! Cutting out soda and its extremely high sugar content from your diet will guarantee you see and feel a difference in your body. For a better alternative see my next tip 😉
4. Drink LOTS of Water
Not only has drinking water been known to help in the elimination of cellulite, but it is also vital to avoiding water retention. Start your morning with at least 8oz. of water. I keep a water bottle by my bed to drink when my alarm goes off in the morning. While numerous sources state that you should drink at least a gallon of water a day, I have found this to be an incredible challenge for me. I found it much easier to drink more water if I kept refilling a smaller bottle, so find what works for you! Even though I wasn’t even close to my 1 gallon quota, the significant increase in the amount of water I drank helped change my skin complexion, digestion, energy and made my body appear leaner. Your body needs an influx of water to help wash out the toxins in your body and if you’ve been flooding your body with toxins for a long time, then it’s definitely time to start flooding them out with water! (If you want to mix things up try coconut water – extremely rich in nutrients, lowers blood pressure, and gives your skin an extra glow.)
5. Eat Carbs… the right kind at the right times!
One of the biggest healthy eating myths is that all carbs are BAD. Wrong. Limit your starches (complex carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils, sweet potatoes etc.) to post-workout or before 4pm. but keep your evening meal limited to protein and greens. Refined grains should be avoided whenever possible, this is where the option for whole grain prevails. Remember, carbs aren’t only limited to the typical “starches” that often come to mind. Fruit and dairy also contain carbs in the form of naturally occurring sugar. A typical breakfast for me is eggs with a half grapefruit or strawberries and blackberries. Lunch is when I like to have my “heaviest” meal which usually includes rice, quinoa or a gluten free pasta.
Tip: I mentioned the use of Shirataki pasta in a previous post. It’s a great option to use for dinner if you are transitioning out of your typical carb heavy dinners and can’t kick the craving of “pasta for dinner”.
6. Don’t skip meals!
This ties in closely with tip #1. Skipping the drive-thru entrance doesn’t mean you’re skipping a meal, ESPECIALLY post-workout. Post-workout is an ideal time to have a significant meal since your body is still burning fat and your muscles need the nutrients to repair. If you don’t workout around meal times, having a post-workout shake is still beneficial for the same reasons. Find a protein powder or bar that you can keep handy to give your body the nutrients it needs whether it be post-workout or if you’re about to skip a meal. My favorite protein powder is Arbonne, which is a combination of rice, pea and cranberry protein. I keep a serving size in a little ziplock bag and my shaker bottle on me all the time just incase. The cookie dough Quest bar is also a favorite go-to of mine when I’m short on time.
Stay focused on the 6 meal tips I’ve given you, dedicate 4 hours a week to working out and I guarantee you’ll see results. One of my favorite sayings I used to hear from one of the Barry’s Miami Beach trainers (I think it was Ethan Marine) was: Honest work, Honest Results.
photos via google