Though the amount of food you eat may affect how much you weigh, the quality of the foods you eat will affect how your body composition, including the fat gathered around your abdominal area. To get flat abs you must change and add healthy foods to your diet -- spot exercises such as sit-ups and crunches will only tighten your abdominals but will not get rid of the fat on top of them.
To get flat abs you should avoid simple or easily digested carbohydrates such as bread, cereal, pasta and sugary drinks and sodas. These types of carbohydrate sources interfere with weight loss attempts and promote weight gain. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are multiple sugar molecules strung together, which means it takes longer for them to be digested. This keeps you fuller longer because of their stabilizing effect on your blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates are also high in fiber. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that makes it a very different nutrient than other carbs, protein and fat, which are all digested by your body. Fiber, on the other hand, acts more like a scrub brush, cleaning excess fat out of your body. Soluble fiber helps reduce fat and cholesterol in your blood. Insoluble fiber binds to fatty substances within your intestines and excretes them in waste.
You can help reduce the fat covering your abdominals by replacing your saturated fat intake with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats are naturally occurring in animal products such as meat and dairy. The American Heart Association lists the following foods as containing saturated fat: fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat, lard, cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or 2 percent milk. Choose unsaturated fats such as those found in almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, flaxseed, flax oil, avocado and olive oil.
Choose lean protein sources such as skinless poultry and seafood to reduce your daily saturated fat intake. While losing excess fat to get flat abs, you want to make sure that your body is not also burning muscle for energy; moderate protein consumption at every meal will help preserve and build lean muscle mass. Protein also takes longer to digest in comparison to carbohydrates, which means protein at every meal will keep you satiated and satisfied.
Replace sugary drinks, sodas and juices with water. This will help cut down the excess calories you may be consuming that your body does not need. If you feel hungry between meal times, try drinking a glass of water first; you may have mistaken thirst for hunger.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- Nutrition MD: Making Sense of Foods
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Fiber
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to do About It
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fats
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients
- Help Guide: Healthy Eating