80 Day OBSESSION: How Bad Do You Want This?

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      What is 80 Day Obsession? The latest breakthrough from Autumn Calabrese, fitness and nutrition expert. A total body transformation that helps sculpt your core and shape and lift your butt at the same time. A different workout every day – helps prevent plateaus! A Timed-Nutrition Eating Plan feeds your body perfect portions […]

PiYo Diet: Get the excess fat off you!

Piyo Kickstart

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Piyo is the new sensation for those who look for a stunning figure now. Introduced by Chalene Johnson, this plan is keenly created to get the leaner and thinner body shape out from all ages and genders of people. Is it easy? Well, that’s what Chalene says. Just by inculcating good food habits and a 25 minutes workout in a day, you will be able to define your body in a way you have always wanted to. Isn’t it wonderful?

Why Piyo diet?

Piyo diet is more of a clean and computed way of your food intake. This is much defined so that you take what you need. You can even eat what you want but the quantity is something that really should be thought upon. The most exciting news is that, you do not have to spend half day in cooking these low fat foods. They are all ready tasty foods, which are going to work fantastic on your body.

What should I eat while I am on Piyo diet?

Almost anything you want, but just be careful of how much to eat. That’s the only check here, to get into a stunning figure of lean body, flat tummy and powerful abs and muscles.

It’s a basic rule that makes this program so effective that, portion eating always helps in flat tummy. This is how you make the portions.

· Breakfast

· AM Snack

· Lunch

· PM Snack

· Dinner

Another point to ensure is to start your day early and finish it early, for a good physique.

Here is a menu of Piyo diet for a week:

Breakfast:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

¼ cup of oat meal + cup of blueberries+ 2 Half Boiled eggs

Tuesday and Thursday

2 Eggs, 1 cup Spinach, 2 tb spoon Avacado.

AM Snacks:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Cucumbers, peppers (1 cup), 2 tb spoon Avacado

Tuesday and Thursday

Apple, 1 1/2 tbsp. of PB, Fat free yogurt ( 1 cup)

Lunch: 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Shakeology plus almond milk Plus 1/2 banana

Tuesday and Thursday

Shakeology plus almond milk and 1/2 banana

PM Snack:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

1 cup broccoli, 1 cup carrots, 2 tbsp. hummus

Tuesday and Thursday

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cucumbers plus 1 tbsp. hummus

Dinner:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

4oz. seasoned chicken or tilapia and 10 asparagus or summer squash

Tuesday and Thursday

3 oz. Pork Tenderloin or Steak, 1/2 cup sweet potato, Eggplant

You can get creative during Saturdays and Sundays make your own recipes of low fat yet tasty food, to satisfy your taste buds. We are not aiming at starving in this plan but we are trying to limit our diet so that we can eat more often than more quantity. Eating more often in small quantities always helps in fastened metabolism. This is the best advantage of this program that you get all the benefits of a strict starving diet system but you actually fill yourself more times than ever. Isn’t that amazing?

You can use more green vegetables and low fat yogurt in case if you don’t feel full. Adding more vegetables and vitamin c fruits will give you more energy spontaneously and you will have the instant energy but not the stubborn fat. So go for it today, to feel the magic!

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Carbs: A Love Story

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You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman watching her weight who doesn’t think that carbs are evil. Between diet books like Grain Brain, Wheat Belly, and Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, it’s no wonder we’re not only terrified of croissants, we’re also pretty sure we shouldn’t be eating whole wheat anything either. But here’s a secret the authors of those best sellers don’t want you to know: You need carbs. In fact, eliminating them could harm your health and make you miss out on one of the most effective ways to stay slim. “Carbs should make up the majority of your diet, especially if you’re active,” says Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, a sports dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We cut through the confusion so you can welcome back carbs with open (sculpted) arms.

What Are Carbs, Exactly?

They’re nutrients that break down into glucose, your body’s primary source of energy, and tons of foods contain them. “Carbs get a bad rap, but we need them to keep our brain working and our heart pumping,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, the author of The Miracle Carb Diet.

Not all carbs are created equal, however. Naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy, sugars that are added to foods, and refined grains such as white rice are broken down quickly by your body. That means they provide almost-instant energy, but it doesn’t last. And unless they’re bundled with other nutrients, like the fiber in an apple or the protein in yogurt, they’re basically empty calories. Other carbs, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes, take longer to digest, so you get a steadier supply of energy.

“Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread can be very high in calories,” Pritchett says. “But many foods that contain carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.” Others fall somewhere in between: Whole grains contain a lot of nutrients and calories, while low-fat dairy has a medium amount of both. The bottom line: Cut down on added sugar and refined grains and consider all other carbs fair game.

If Carbs Are So Great, Why Is Everyone on a Low-Carb Diet?

Well, it’s easy to overdo it on certain carbs. When you eat any type of carb, your body releases insulin to help you regulate an increase in blood sugar. But your system processes refined carbs so quickly that your blood sugar may dip, setting off an “eat more” signal in your brain.

The problem is, cutting out all carbs can hamper your weight-loss efforts, especially if you’re active. “They’re our primary energy source during exercise, and we can’t get to the same level of intensity if we’re carb depleted,” Pritchett says. She recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs, depending on how much cardio you do (aerobic activity requires more carbs than Pilates, for example). “You need 130 grams a day just for your brain to function, and active women should aim for between 200 and 300 grams,” she explains.

Skimp on carbs and you’ll also miss out on important nutrients, Zuckerbrot says. “Many of the vitamins and minerals we need come from fruits and vegetables, so cutting these out can lead to deficiencies.” And your mood could suffer, too: A yearlong study found that people on a low-carb diet reported feeling angrier and more depressed than those on a low-fat diet did.

Carbs: Decoded

Why Do I Crave Carbs When I’m Tired or Sad?

They provide the quickest blood sugar boost, and your brain knows that, says Wendy Bazilian, RD, a coauthor of The SuperFoodsRx Diet. They also help your body produce the hormone serotonin, which balances your emotions and gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling (hey, macaroni and cheese is called comfort food for a reason).

The good news: Just because it’s a craving doesn’t mean it’s bad. “High-fiber carbs can help increase serotonin without wrecking your diet,” Zuckerbrot says. Add healthy fats and protein and they’ll keep your blood sugar steady too.

Should I Eat Carbs Before My Workout?

To kill it at the gym, yes. Bazilian suggests eating half a piece of whole-grain toast or half a banana 45 to 60 minutes before your workout. “The idea is to provide your body with easily digestible energy far enough in advance that your workout isn’t interrupted by the digestion process,” she says. (There’s no need to nosh if you’re exercising for less than 60 minutes within a couple of hours after a meal and don’t feel hungry.)

If you have a marathon or triathlon coming up, carb loading can help you store extra fuel and fluid in your muscles, explains Kim Larson, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But don’t pig out on pasta the night before or you’ll feel weighed down during the main event. “You want to increase your carbohydrate intake by up to 100 grams a day — about an extra three servings — starting three days before the big event,” Larson says.

Could I Become Addicted to Carbs?

It’s possible. Recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study subjects who drank a super-sugary milk shake showed increased activity in their nucleus accumbens, the “pleasure center” in the brain that regulates reward and addiction, four hours afterward. In other words, eating the wrong kind of carbs can become a vicious cycle, Bazilian explains, because your body gets a rush and then crashes, leaving you craving a fix.

Breaking the cycle can be hard, but it’s definitely not impossible. Instead of trying to cut out treats entirely (as if!), combine something sweet, like dark chocolate chips or dried apricots, with something containing healthy protein and fats — think roasted almonds or Greek yogurt — to balance the sugar and slow digestion.

And while the occasional handful of pretzels or side of steamed white rice won’t hurt you, make most of your grains whole.

Your Daily Bread

So what does the right amount of carbohydrates look like? Use this sample menu as a guide. It adds up to nearly 215 grams of carbs, about the ideal amount for an active woman who’s taking in 1,800 calories a day.

Breakfast (43g carbs): Whole wheat English muffin with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1 egg scrambled with 1 cup spinach + 1/2 grapefruit

Lunch (72g carbs): Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cucumber + 6 ounces low-fat yogurt with 1/2 small peach, diced

Snack (15g carbs): Apple + low-fat string cheese

 

Dinner (51g carbs): 2 fish tacos made with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage and mango salsa + small side black beans

Dessert (32g carbs): 1/2 cup light ice cream with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

It’s All Good — Really

No carb is off-limits, but some are better than others. Here’s how much of each type you should be eating daily.

Starches and Whole Grains: 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup corn or peas
  • 1 potato
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas or lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown rice or whole-grain pasta
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread

 

Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings

  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup leafy greens
  • 12 baby carrots

 

Fruit: 3 to 4 servings

  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup berries

 

Dairy: 2 to 3 servings

  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat cheddar

 

Refined grains: no more than 2 servings (count toward your starches)

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 1 plain bagel

 

Treats: no more than 1 serving

  • 2 squares dark chocolate
  • 1 small cookie

How to Reduce Body Fat Percentage

The guidelines for how to reduce body fat percentage aren’t complicated.

It’s certainly not necessary to starve yourself to reduce body fat or spend hours every day sweating your body fat off at the gym.

But, in order to reduce body fat percentage numbers permanently you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes and learn some healthy new habits.

And if you put your mind to it, you’ll be the proud new owner of a brand new body in just a few short months. The twelve steps below are the best ways to reduce body fat. Just take it one step at a time to reach your destination.

how-to-lower-your-body-fat

How to Reduce Body Fat Percentage in 12 Steps

1.  Build more muscle. One of the best ways to reduce body fat is weight training. As you increase lean muscle mass you burn more calories.

2.  Eat for great health. When you eat for great health you’re making sure to have the necessary energy to exercise and enjoy your life.

3.  Avoid refined carbs. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates, zap your energy, ruin your health and contribute to excess body fat. Stick with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and other high fiber food.

4.  Enjoy your protein. To make sure you reduce fat and not muscle when losing weight, it’s essential to get enough protein. Use low calorie high protein shakes for mini meals. And have fun adding fruit or flavorings.

5.  Drink more water. As you up your water intake to at least 8 glasses a day, the less hungry and more refreshed you’ll feel.

6.  Increase activity. If you’re eating less calories, low impact physical activity, like walking, swimming and yoga for at least 30 minutes a day, burns fat, builds a strong lean body and helps boost metabolism activity.

7.  Know your calories. When we eat unconsciously, calories start adding up. Make sure you’re not storing up more than you burn for energy.

8.  Have 4-6 mini meals. Instead of 3 big meals a day, go for 4 to 6 small meals. It helps increase metabolism and burn extra calories.

9.   Eat more veggies. Most plain vegetables are so low in calories and so high in fiber content that it’s almost like you’ve eaten no calories at all.

10.  Eliminate sodas. Sodas are bad for your health and add unnecessary calories. Learn to love drinking pure, clean, calorie-free water.

11.  Enjoy other pleasures. Whenever possible, indulge in simple healthy activities that you enjoy (besides eating). Make a list and have fun.

12.  Get much stronger. Strength training improves flexibility, increases fitness, strengthens joints and bones, builds muscle and helps reduce fat.

Now that you know how to reduce body fat percentage, the rest is up to you. Just add one step at a time and increase your pace slow and easy.

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7 Myths About Six-Pack Abs

6-pack-abs-training
7 Myths About Six-Pack Abs

We all know at least one person who eats for three and rarely lifts a weight, but somehow still sports ripped six-pack abs. Along with giving the majority of us a reason to curse like drunken pirates over their genetic gifts, those cases also highlight why it’s so difficult to offer hard-and-fast rules for getting a six-pack.

Things like genetics, gender, and stress can all play a part in weight loss (or weight gain), so offering step-by-step instructions for a shredded midsection can be tricky. However, adhering to myths and hearsay on your quest for visible abs will absolutely hold you back.

So whether you’re a workout Jedi or a padawan looking to score abs 101 tips, allow us to dispel fact from fiction when it comes to achieving those washboard abs.

7 Myths About Six-Pack Abs

Myth #1. You Can Out-Crunch A Bad Diet

Consistently feast on garbage foods and your stomach (and arms, and teeth, and legs, and arteries, and skin, etc.) will look like garbage. Building abs starts in the kitchen with a clean diet. But even when your food choices are on point—including cutbacks in sodium intake to reduce bloat and water retention—your portions sizes are vital since it’s still possible to overindulge on healthy foods. This is a universal truth: Consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Read: No six-pack for you!

 

Myth #2. Carbohydrates Kill Abs

Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient that your body uses for fuel. So, no, carbs don’t destroy abs. However, fast-digesting carbs like white bread, sports drinks, and potatoes can initiate an insulin spike that can hinder fat loss. (Consuming those types of carbs is best reserved for post-workout because they’ll aid in recovery.) Instead, get your carbs from sources like fruits, veggies, legumes, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, and oatmeal. When possible, omit lab-created mutant foods with ingredients you need an interpreter to pronounce.

7 Myths About Six-Pack Abs

Myth #3. Crunches and Sit-Ups Are Must-Dos

They’re the two most popular abs exercises, but they’re far from your only options. If you don’t want to get horizontal, try these: Russian twists, Scorpion Tails, dip bar knee raises, hanging leg or knee raises, standing rope crunches, and side bends. Vary your exercises and reps, and add resistance and weights to create a stronger midsection and more defined abs.

Myth: #4: Supps Will Cover My Abs Shortfalls

Supplements like caffeine and green tea do have fat-burning properties to them, but they won’t go all Criss Angel on your belly fat and make it vanish. Sadly, for most of us, there are no shortcuts to acquire head-turning abs. We need a rigorous training regimen, low bodyfat, and adequate rest.

7 Myths About Six-Pack Abs

Myth #5. Slower Reps Are Better For Abs

According to a Spanish study, faster reps enabled the muscle activity in the recutus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and spinal erectors to increase. However, mixing up your rep speeds is a more effective approach.

Myth #6. You Can Train Abs Daily

Well, you certainly can, but you’d be overworking them. Abs are a muscle, so treat them with the same respect you would after torching your biceps, or deltoids, or quadriceps, or—you get the idea.

7 Myths About Six-Pack Abs

Myth #7. Spot Reduction Works For Abs

Doing crunches from here till the Rapture won’t guarantee your abs will show when Judgment Day arrives if there’s a layer of fat covering them. As mentioned, a strict diet paired with steady training is an excellent way to reduce bodyfat. But keep in mind that outside factors also come into play. When you’re stressed, for example, cortisol levels rise. That can impede your ability to lose weight. Also, a recent study that appeared in the Journal of Sleep involving 225 adults found that people who stayed up later were found to eat unhealthy foods during those late-night hours. This, not surprisingly, led to weight gain.

 

 

 

Everything You Need To Know About Getting a 6-Pack

6-pack-abs-trainingI’m just gonna go ahead and start where we need to start…

Ab training is overrated.

It’s true.

We train our abs too much.

In gym culture, I see more ab work than ANYTHING.

I’ve seen 7 days of ab training. 7 DAYS. All abs. I’ve seen guys walk into a gym, do an hour of ab work and go home. Entire DVD’s have been made about ab training. And nobody seems to consider a workout complete without ab specific work. Everyone is training abs. Evreryone.

Now I get it – there are few things in this world more coveted than a shredded 6 pack, but here’s the problem…we’re too fat for it to matter.

Our abs sit under our belly fat and the two aren’t related.

You have your abs. ….And then you have you belly fat.

It doesn’t matter how perfect your ab development is if they’re always covered by fat. It’s like spending hours on your ’65 Mustang GT but never taking it out the garage. What the hell is the point??  

Six-Pack-Abs

And so for most of us, here is the most effective 6 pack workout EVER written:

Warm up) Walk to grocery store

A1) Buy some green vegetables

A2) Buy some yellow vegetables

A3) Buy some white vegetables

B1) Buy some red vegetables

B2) Buy some meat

B3) Cook meat

C1) Cut up green, yellow, white, red vegetables

C2) Add some balsamic vinegar and olive oil to your colorful vegetable salad

C3) A lil’ splash of lemon too

Finisher) Eat

Repeat 100 times. Flex your 6 pack in the mirror.

Nutrition is the foundation of leanness. Leanness is the foundation of a visible 6 pack. So if you want a rockin 6 pack the first and most fundamental step is a thoughtful nutrition plan.

Okay. Glad we got that clear.

And that makes the SECOND step to a rippling 6 pack metabolically demanding full body resistance training.

Sweaty, aggressive challenging resistance training will do more for your mid section than crunches. This type of work burns a butt ton of calories, builds lean mass, and has a profound effect on your hormone profile, all of which help make shreddedness attainable.

And since we’re on a roll here, the THIRD most effective step to getting a 6 pack is probably rest and recovery – the unsung heroes of fat loss.

I’m seriously not trying to mess with you here. The first three most effective steps to getting a 6 pack have nothing to do with ab training. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

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Okay.

Cool.

So if you’ve perfected your nutrition, you’ve established a periodized and challenging full-body resistance routine, and your rest and recovery is on-point AND you want to incorporate a reasonable amount of ab training into your routine, I’m cool with that. Molding your abs into the perfect specimen of delectable sex-appeal is a perfectly noble pursuit.

And so, long preamble aside, let’s actually talk about your abs:

Anatomy

The primary 6-pack muscle is the rectus abdominis. It’s the vertical muscle that attaches your rib cage to the anterior portion of your pelvis. That means it can tips the pelvic up, it can tip the rib cage down, or it can do both at the same time. It can also prevent movement by engaging in order to stabilize.

The rec abs are divided into 6 or 8 “packs” by tendinous inscriptions. These are the horizontal lines that subdivide a 6 pack. Genetics will determine the configuration. Some of us have 6 packs, some of us have 8 packs, some abs line up evenly, some don’t…not a whole lot you can do about any of that except love it and embrace what your momma gave you.

That’s the rectus abdominis.

The other power player of the 6-pack world is your V. The sex-V. The arrows that point to your…..

This is where the most inferior portion of your external obliques meet up with your inguinal ligament. Remember that ligaments attach bone to bone. The inguinal ligament attaches the anterior superior iliac spine to the pubic tubercle (just in case you cared.) The internal obliques are also hanging out in there (as the names imply, the internal obliques sit underneath the external obliques.) Because even the slightest amount of body fat tends to preferentially be stored in the lower abs, ultra leanness is necessary for the sex-V to pop (which is why it’s so coveted.)

Rectus abdominis and your sex-V. Got it. Okay, so how do we train them to make them beautiful?

First of all, we DON’T train them everyday. Overtraining our ab muscles 1) can make them hypertonic and 2) simple isn’t the most effective approach.

Hypertonic adj. – having a greater degree of tension.

This means that our ribs are constantly being pulled down and our pelvis is constantly being pulled up. We lose your lumbar curve, we tend to develop some degree of kyphosis (rounding of the upper back) and pretty soon we’re dealing with back pain or an injury.

The muscle fiber makeup of our abs also tells us that they shouldn’t be trained everyday. Our rectus abdominus is roughly equal parts fast and slow twitch muscle fiber, just like our arms and thighs for example. With proper training, they’ll need time to recover.

All of this is to say…don’t overtrain your abs. Did I mention that? Don’t overtrain your abs. Oh, that’s right. I just did. Five times. Depending on our phase that means training them once or twice per week on non-consecutive days.

The composition and general complexity of our abs also tells us that they’ll responds well to a variety of training. The idea that abs only response to high repetition, high frequency training is a misunderstanding of, you know, everything.

So when you do train your abs, be sure to include a variety of stimulus. Clarification: this does NOT mean every-movement-every-workout…this means your OVERALL routine should be well balanced.

A nice way to categorize ab training:

  1. Upper flexion (a weighted crunch.)
  2. Lower flexion (hanging knee raises.)
  3. Double flexion (row boats.)
  4. Rotation (Russian twists)
  5. *Anti-movement/stability – (planks, Pallof Cable Press)

*Stability exercises are often neglected but from an athletic perspective, a primary function of the abs is to help maintain the relationship between the pelvis and the rib cage, even under enormous force. If you want to be a badass, don’t neglect stability.

Additional ab considerations

The simplest and most effective way to develop the ultra coveted lower abs is to concentrate on full range of motion training. For example, if you’re doing an incline leg raise, initially the exercise is going to work the illopsoas, tensor fascia lata, and rectus femoris (of the quad) – all hip flexors. In order to work your abs, you have to change the relationship between your pelvis and your rib cage. In other words, you have to curl your bum off the mat. As you contract into an absolute full range, you’ll feel the infraumbilical portion of your abs (the abs that are below your belly button) really start to engage. The take home message: Make the exercise easy enough that you’re able to perform a full range of motion in the prescribed set and rep range.

You should also know that your upper abs and lower abs are an extension of the same muscle. That means they work together. Always. More than likely, your lower abs are not underdeveloped. They just have more fat on top of them. If you want to see your lower abs, you need to get leaner.

So, despite the piles and piles of mis information out there, having an outlandish 6 pack really comes down to a few simple steps:

Step 1) Get lean by focusing on big money methods – nutrition, full body metabolic resistance, rest and recovery.

Step 2) Don’t overtrain your abs (1-2 time per week, non-consecutive.)

Step 3) When you DO train your abs, make sure your training program is balanced and intense.

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Eat Your Way to Great Abs with These 7 Tips

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When it comes to creating incredible abs, even the most effective workout programs can only bring you so far. That’s because you can’t get a flat, hard midsection without losing body fat. No matter how much effort you put into creating a six-pack, no one’s going to see it if it’s covered by a layer of flab.

If you’re following the dietary guidelines of a Beachbody fitness program, you’ll automatically be eating the right foods to lose fat as you get in shape. But the following seven principles can give you an extra edge, and will help ensure that the effort you’re putting into your abs will bring you the results you want.

1. Get plenty of protein
Eating enough lean protein promotes fat loss and muscle gain, the two most important elements for developing great abs. It also helps keep you from getting hungry while you’re eating right. You don’t have to gobble down 12-ounce steaks—just eat a normal portion of lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, or vegetarian protein with every meal, and make sure your snacks contain some protein, too. If you still have a hard time getting enough in your diet, a daily Shakeology shake can be a perfect addition.

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By the way, protein is especially important in the morning, when a lot of people don’t get as much as they should. A protein-rich breakfast will help keep your blood sugar steady for hours, preventing the dips that can lead to cravings later in the day. (Try some low-fat chicken sausage, or an omelet with one whole egg and three egg whites, along with fruit or whole-grain toast.)

2.Reconsider your carbs.
Despite the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the average American meal is still too high in sugar and fast-burning starches to bring body fat down to ab-baring levels. It’s time to say goodbye to sweetened soda, ditch the Doritos, and save the cake for your birthday. If your fitness plan calls for a sports drink before a long cardio workout, or a carb-and-protein recovery drink after resistance training, that’s fine. But the rest of the time, stick with foods that are on the low end of the glycemic index (refer to GlycemicIndex.com for more information)—these foods burn more slowly, so they won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Have fun with fiber.
Something about the word “fiber” just doesn’t sound appetizing. But high-fiber foods can actually be quite delicious: fresh berries and other fruits, salads loaded with colorful produce, your favorite steamed vegetables or vegetable soup, stews or chili made with beans, chewy whole-grain breads and cereals…You get the picture. (These foods just happen to be loaded with nutrients as well.) High-fiber foods keep you fuller with fewer calories, and they help keep your digestive system working at its best—a double-whammy for getting rid of belly bulge.

4. Enjoy some yogurt.
Probiotics, the healthful bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods, have been proven to help reduce belly fat. In a recent study in Finland, new mothers who took probiotic supplements averaged smaller waist circumferences—and lower body fat in general—than those who didn’t take probiotic supplements. And while the topic is still controversial, studies have found that eating lots of calcium-rich dairy foods like yogurt may increase overall weight loss.

5. Don’t forget to eat.
Tempted to lower your daily calorie count by skipping meals? Don’t. Going hungry can raise your levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, which research has found can increase belly fat even in otherwise thin women. And eating too infrequently can lower your metabolism and energy levels, while increasing the chance that you’ll get too hungry and decide to chuck your meal plan entirely. If you’re eating the right foods, regular meals and snacks will keep your body fueled while you’re working toward that strong core.

6. Drink more fluids. Hydration is important when you’re on a fitness plan, but drinking plenty of water has particular benefits for your midsection. It helps keep your stomach full, so you don’t overeat, and it helps flush out excess sodium to prevent belly bloating. (Eating more potassium-rich foods, such as tomatoes and bananas, will also help in this area.) Plain ol’ H20 can’t be beat, but you can also switch it up with flavored waters, iced tea, and anything else you like to drink that isn’t full of sweeteners. How much do you need? The old rule of 8 glasses a day is a good start, but everyone is different: drink more if you’re exercising or it’s hot out, and drink less if you’re running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.

7. …With two exceptions.
It’s time to cut down on those mood-altering substances, coffee and alcohol. Too much caffeine raises your cortisol levels and can impair your sleep, which can lower the production of fitness-promoting hormones. Meanwhile, the proverbial “beer belly” isn’t just the result of extra calories—alcohol actually makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize carbs and fat. Booze also stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitions, which can lead to bingeing. The best road to flat abs is no alcohol at all, but if you really like a drink now and then, just have one at a time (and no more than a few a week), and stay away from higher-calorie beers and sugary mixed drinks

If you add these rules to your fitness plan, you’re sure to see faster improvements in your midsection. Of course, there’s an added bonus to eating this way: it’ll keep you healthier, too. That may not be as big an inducement as great abs, but we’re throwing it in for free.