Whether you're trying to flatten your belly or build a six-pack, eating regular, healthy and balanced meals should be part of your plan. Lunch is often eaten away from home and may require a little more thought and attention when abs are your focus. But with a little planning, a healthy lunch meal can help you on your way to a slimmer middle.
Healthy Lunch Basics
For balance, your lunch meal for better abs should contain a healthy mix of carbs, protein and fat. Carbs and fat supply your body with energy and spare the use of protein, while protein helps maintain and strengthen your muscles, especially after a hard workout.
Good carb options for lunch might include whole-grain products, fruits and vegetables. Healthy fats include vegetable oils, avocados, nuts and seeds. For protein, try seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, soy foods or low-fat dairy or plant-milk alternatives.
Brown Bag It
Bringing your own lunch from home gives you the most control over what you're eating, and this may make it easier for you to get the abs you desire. Aim for protein-rich lunches that weigh in at roughly 500 calories. A sandwich makes a simple and healthy choice. Stuff a 6-inch whole-wheat pita with 1/4 cup of hummus, one-eighth of an avocado, lettuce and diced tomatoes, and serve with 1 cup of nonfat plain with 3/4 cup of blueberries and six cashew nuts.
Or make a one-bowl lunch by mixing 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa with 1/2 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup of diced cucumbers, 1/4 cup of diced red onions, 3 ounces of chicken breast, 1 ounce of cubed, low-fat cheese and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, rounded out with a small apple.
If bringing your lunch from home isn't an option, it's possible to make healthy selections that fit your diet plan for better abs eating out. Be aware, however, that meals eaten out may be high in sodium, which can cause bloating. If eating at a sit-down restaurant, you can request that your food be prepared without any added salt, which may help a bit.
Good lunch order options for your ab diet include salads with lean proteins such as poultry, fish or beans with dressing served on the side or vinegar and oil. Sauteed meats with veggies, such as stir-fries, also make good lunch options. Add a whole-grain side dish such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread to round out the meal. If ordering a sandwich, go for the whole-wheat bread and lean meats such as turkey or chicken, load the sandwich with veggies and add flavor with mustard or vinegar and oil.
Lunch on the Go
Even if time is a problem, it's still important to eat lunch, especially when you're trying to trim down and tone up those abs. Consider a lunch smoothie for those days when time is not on your side. Blend 1 cup of soy milk with 1 cup of strawberries, one small banana and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and round it out with five whole-grain crackers for a quick and healthy lunch.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Strength Building and Muscle Mass
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Hummus, Commercial
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Quinoa, Cooked
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Tips for Healthy Eating Out
- Silk Products: Soy Milk Original: Nutrition
- National Nutrient Database: USDA Commodity, Peanut Butter, Smooth
- HealthAliciousNess: Balsamic Vinaigrette