Over the years, I've collected some healthy habits that can really help with slimming down your tummy. At the end of the day, food is going to be the most important aspect of revealing toned abs. You can have the thickest abdominal muscles in the world, but if they're covered by a layer of fat, nobody will ever see them. Revealing your abs is simply a matter of lowering your body fat percentage. And doing some weighted abs exercises will help make them pop.
Here are my quick tips:
1. Drink more water
Most fitness professional will tell you that the body needs for you to consume at least half your body weight in ounces every day -- so if you weigh 140lbs, you would need to drink 70oz of water by this recommendation. I'd say that that is the minimum. If you workout on a consistent basis, you really need more than that. Try drinking 90-120oz everyday. This will help the body to stay hydrated (obv), release toxins, and not hold onto water weight. I like to create a schedule for myself with milestones throughout the day so that I don't end up having to chug 32oz of water right before bed.
2. Eat quality protein
This can be what you want it to be. The body needs protein to build muscle, so pick a protein you like and grill or bake it (not fried). I try to stick to fish, shrimp, turkey, and chicken because they're super lean. And choose organic when you can. Organic meats are much higher quality and contain more of the natural benefits without added antibiotics and whatnot.
3. Eat your veggies
This one should be obvious. Veggies are healthy. They're high in fiber, they're packed with vitamins, and all that good stuff. Try adding in some leafy greens, asparagus, peppers, and broccoli as sides to your protein rich dishes. Again, choose organic when you can.
Read more about the importance of proper nutrition.
3. Less sugar
This should also be obvious. We consume entirely too much sugar in America. It's in just about everything these days -- cookies, cakes, pastries, breads, ketchup, jelly, spaghetti sauce, soda, sweet tea, protein bars, etc. Read your labels and become more aware of the amount of sugar that you consume.
4. Less salt
Not only will lowering your sodium intake help keep your heart running smoothly, but it will also help you achieve those toned abs. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 1 teaspoon of sodium per day. Sodium attracts and holds water in your body, which leads to bloat -- k bye, abs. You can reduce your sodium intake by limiting the amount of processed foods you eat (and if you need to eat processed foods, pay attention to the label), staying away from fast foods and fried foods, and using fresh herbs and spices when you cook instead of salt.
5. Limit dairy
Most people have at least some trouble digesting dairy. This trouble leads to bloat. So during the summer bikini season (or as you're prepping for a big event/wedding), forgo dairy -- cheese, milk, yogurt, and butter. If that's a tough one for you to do cold turkey, limit it as much as you can and if you're prepping for an event, cut it out entirely for the week leading up to the big day.
7. Limit alcohol
This is not one that people like to hear. Sorry, but alcohol isn't good for abs. Every once in a while, you can choose something like red wine or vodka soda. Those are much healthier options than sugary cocktails and beer.
Next time you buy beer, look at the label and see how many calories, carbs, and sugars are in it. It's a lot. And they don't call it a beer belly for nothing. Limit alcohol as much as you can, and when you do drink, make educated choices and stay hydrated with water.
Here are some tips from Greatist on how to stay healthy at a bar.
8. Choose good carbs
Not all carbs are necessarily bad. Carbs get a bad rep, but the body really needs them for energy to finish workouts, digest, and burn fat. Complex carbs are super healthy and fiber-rich. Eat them in your earlier meals to give you energy. Here are my favorite complex carbs:
- Brown rice
- Sweet Potatoes
- Ezekiel bread
- Whole grains
9. Do weighted exercises
Doing crunches all day long is never gonna get you a rockin' six pack. Crunches are really an upper ab exercise, and if you're wanting to build more muscle in your abs, try doing some weighted exercises (medicine ball crunches, toes to bar, cable crunches). And balance working all the different parts of your abs (upper, lower, obliques).
10. Up your cardio
Increase the number of days that you do cardio and the speed of the cardio that you do on those days. Really get your heart pumping. You can alternate steady state cardio with HIIT. Try starting with 2 steady state days and 1 sprint day, and then increase the number of days slowly. Listen to your body. Pay attention to joint pains. Take it easy at the beginning so that your body can get used to the added stress. There are so many different cardio options:
- Jumping rope
- Group classes
- HIIT workouts
- and more!!
Do you have any tips to add? Comment below!