The Abs Diet, and its sequel, The Abs Diet for Women, was created by Men's Health magazine editor-in-chief David Zinczenko, who claims his diets can help people achieve the coveted six-pack abs. While this six-week diet incorporates a number of healthy principles and has the potential to lead to at least some weight loss, no scientific studies are associated with this diet, and it probably won't give most women the extremely toned abdominal muscles typically called a "six pack." Check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss diet or exercise program to make sure it is safe for you.
Six-Pack Abs Diet Meal Frequency
Women following the Abs Diet are advised to eat three meals a day as well as snacks two hours before both lunch and dinner and a snack two hours after dinner. Eating regularly spaced-out meals and snacks throughout the day can help maintain steadier blood sugar levels, thus limiting cravings and hunger in between meals. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2003 found that eating at least four times per day was associated with a lower risk of obesity than eating three or fewer times.
Six-Pack Abs Diet "Power Foods"
In this diet, you don't need to count calories or carbs; you just need to eat at least two of the Abs Diet power foods at each meal and one at each snack. These foods, which are are nutritious and filling, include nuts, peanut butter, legumes, green leafy vegetables, dairy, plain instant oatmeal, eggs, whole grains, olive oil, berries, whey protein powder, and turkey and other lean meats; they can easily fit into a healthy weight-loss diet. You're also supposed to drink smoothies made from a mix of these power foods, such as yogurt, whey, berries and peanut butter, and include these foods in some of your snacks throughout the week.
Research Supporting the Power Foods
Yogurt, vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains are all associated with weight loss, according to the results of a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. Nuts, peanut butter, lean meat, eggs, whey protein powder, legumes and dairy are all good sources of protein, which can help improve satiety and weight loss. A study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases in 2009 found that high-protein diets resulted in greater weight loss than standard protein diets. Both nuts and olive oil provide monounsaturated fat, which can help to limit deposits of fat in the abdominal area, according to a study published in Diabetes Care in 2007. Eating at least three servings per day of whole grains, such as oatmeal, are associated with less abdominal fat and a lower body mass index, notes a review article published in Public Health Nutrition in 2008.
Foods to Avoid for Women on This Diet
You don't want to just add the power foods to your diet; you'll also need to avoid or limit certain other foods. For example, you're advised to avoid alcohol and drink no more than two glasses of diet soda per day. Instead, drink green tea, low-fat milk or water. Substances in green tea called catechins may help increase abdominal fat loss from exercise, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2008. Avoid foods with trans fats, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates or high-fructose corn syrup. The exception to these rules is that one meal per week you can have a "cheat meal" and eat whatever you want so you won't be craving it the rest of the week.
Importance of Exercise on the Six-Pack Abs Diet
The Abs Diet for Women requires exercise, including at least three strength-training sessions and two abs workouts each week. Cardio is included in the warm-ups for the strength-training workouts, but Zinczenco recommends light cardio workouts on days in between strengh-training workouts as well as at least one interval-training workout per week. Getting regular cardiovascular exercise may help more with weight loss than stretching, including decreases in both abdominal and total fat, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003. A combination of strength training and cardio is even more helpful for decreasing abdominal fat than cardio alone, according to another study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science in 2003. To get the full details on the diet and exercise program, you'll need to either buy the book or pay to use the online version of the diet.
- U.S. News & World Report: The Abs Diet
- Diet.com: Abs Diet
- Today: Look Fab With the 'Abs Diet for Women'
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Effect of Exercise on Total and Intra-Abdominal Body Fat in Postmenopausal Women
- The Journal of Nutrition: Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults
- Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science: The Effect of Combined Aerobic and Resistance Exercise Training on Abdominal Fat in Obese Middle-Aged Women
- Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases: High Protein Diets Decrease Total and Abdominal Fat and Improve CVD Risk Profile in Overweight and Obese Men and Women With Elevated Triacylglycerol
- Diabetes Care: Monounsaturated Fat–Rich Diet Prevents Central Body Fat Distribution and Decreases Postprandial Adiponectin Expression Induced by a Carbohydrate-Rich Diet in Insulin-Resistant Subjects
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men
- American Journal of Epidemiology: Association Between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-Living US Adult Population