So, you've been doing "8-Minute Abs" daily for months, but you're still struggling to see the six-pack you've always dreamed of.
If you're frustrated that your crunches and other exercises haven't managed to remove that persistent layer of flab, you definitely need to reconsider what you're eating. As California-based nutritionist and dietitian Kimberly Slater, MS, RD explained to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, neglecting your diet when trying to achieve results is the same as skipping leg day in your work-out routine.
"Here's the deal, have you ever seen someone walking down the street that obviously skipped leg day a few too many times? They have super buff arms, a thick neck, but scrawny legs. Neglecting any area results in lagging performance. If you are truly dedicated to developing a fit body, you wouldn't skip leg day, would you?" Slater said.
"Then why is it that in general we treat our diet differently? When you neglect your nutrition you neglect your workout.”
You can do all the crunches you want, but if you eat too many calories, the fat won't go anywhere.
"The best remedy is to eat healthier," she said.
How should your diet change?
Slater said nutritionally rich foods are ideal, as they also help you recover quickly following a workout.
"Eat an adequate amount of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds," she said.
You should replace your normal meal with "nutritionally dense foods that are lower in calories."
"A sample dinner might be having brown rice, black beans, a cabbage salad with salsa and avocado. That meal will give you fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy plant protein. Skip the fatty meat, cheese, and dessert," Slater said, suggesting that meats and other fatty foods should be limited to "treats a few times a week instead of daily staples."
Fiber is key
When you work-out, you often hear that you should worry about how much protein you're consuming. But Slater says focusing on fiber is actually more important.
"Fiber is only found in plant foods like beans, lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa. All of these foods – except fruit – contain protein," she said.
"If you focus on eating more fiber, you will not only get enough fiber, vitamins and minerals (which help keep you energized through your workout) and antioxidants (which help fight inflammation post workout), but you'll also get enough protein without getting too many calories or too much fat."
Chiseled abs don't come from drinking additional protein shakes.
"The secret to abs is eating more fiber," Slater explained.
Are there other ways of working out?
In addition to diet, Slater explained that crunches alone are not usually enough.
"You want to change up your routine, try different exercises, target different muscles and start incorporating some high intensity interval training for fat burn," she said.
But again, she stressed that a combination of diet and different exercises are vital.
"When you eat too much, or don't regularly change up your routine, you won't see the results you desire," Slater said.
So, keep doing your ab work-outs, but if you want to finally see those chiseled ab lines poking through the flab, it's time to take a hard look at your diet.