If you want to see your abs this summer, you may think twice about some of the common food and drinks in your diet. Not all calories are created equally, and that saying holds true when it comes to seeing your six-pack. That’s why we’re here today with 10 of the worst foods for your abs that should be on your list of items to stay away from.
In addition to your food choices, your genetics, exercise frequency and type, and a slew of other factors can influence how defined your abdominal muscles are. Your core is often thought of in relation to aesthetics, but these muscles also create stability and balance in your body and protect your spine and organs.
The amount of abdominal fat and water retention an individual holds are major reasons why some people have more defined ab muscles. Research shows that the amount of salt in your diet can lead to fluid retention, refined sugar can lead to abdominal fat, and other items can affect your metabolism, impacting your core leanness. You don’t have to follow a super restrictive diet to see your abs. However, a meal plan rich in lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, and minimally processed foods is a good start for defined abs.
To get your lean, mean core ready for the summertime pools, beaches, and more, you may want to modify your drink choices and swap some of your meals and snacks for more nutritious alternatives. All foods can be part of a well-balanced diet, but if you’re searching for a six-pack this summer, here are 10 of the worst foods for your abs.
Beer, wine, margaritas, oh my! Even your low-sugar seltzer drinks may be keeping you from seeing your abs. Alcoholic drinks can impact your leanness in a few ways. They are generally a source of empty calories that can contribute to excess calorie intake for the day, potentially leading to weight gain. Additionally, many adult beverages contain added sugar, an ingredient that can result in abdominal fat, and research shows that alcohol on its own appears to be related to high waist circumference. You’re better off swapping the alcohol for sparkling water for more defined abs.
Convenience and versatility make deli meat a popular staple in many households. While a variety of options like turkey, chicken, ham, and even roast beef are low in fat, these sliced meats are generally high in sodium. This sodium content can lead to fluid retention and less noticeable abs, and potentially negatively impact blood pressure, organ health, and blood vessels.
To reduce your sodium intake, look for lower sodium cuts of deli meat, or swap for uncured meats, like homemade grilled chicken or baked turkey breast.
Whether enjoying with milk for a quick breakfast, sprinkling over your yogurt for a parfait, or combining it with nuts for a homemade trail mix, sugary cereal could be destroying your abs. We know sugar on its own can increase abdominal fat, but sweetened cereals that are also low in fiber may not be filling, leading to bigger portion sizes and more calories consumed.
If you are a cereal lover, look for options with at least three grams of fiber per serving and no more than five grams of added sugar. This will allow you to work toward your ab goals while still enjoying a crunchy treat.
Grab-and-go snacks and meals make life a little easier, but often at the expense of nutrition. Granola bars are known for being packed with sugar, low in fiber and protein, and not especially filling. This combination of characteristics can lead to less defined abs and contribute many empty calories to your day.
Instead of your go-to granola bar, look for an option with at least three grams of fiber, eight grams of protein, and fewer than five grams of added sugar. This will make for a more filling snack or meal with more nutritional value.
A plain cup of coffee won’t hold you back from your ab goals. In fact, the caffeine in coffee may actually help break down body fat. The problem comes with the milk, cream, and sweeteners often added to hot and cold coffee drinks. Some coffee drinks can easily pack over 40 grams of added sugar, an amount that could be keeping you from seeing your abs this summer.
In place of sweeteners, try cinnamon for added flavor or unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk. This will lighten your coffee and cut the acidity without added sugar or many calories.
You may think cutting sugar from your soda would help your waistline, but it could actually be destroying your abs. In fact, research shows that diet soda intake is linked to increased abdominal obesity. While the mechanism behind this has not been concretely determined, suggestions include sugar substitutes that disrupt healthy gut microbiotas and encourage sugar cravings. If you enjoy carbonation, stick with unsweetened carbonated water and toss sugary and diet soda drinks.
A category of food on this list that comes as no surprise, fried foods do your abs no favors. Typically packed with calories and fat grams, and the fact that they are also a source of salt and added sugar, fried foods come in many shapes and sizes. Savory chips and fries and dessert-like items like donuts name only a few popular items in this genre. The sodium and sugar in these foods can contribute to water retention and abdominal fat, and the dense calorie count can lead to excess calorie intake. On many different fronts, fried foods could be wrecking your abs.
While you might grab a muffin for breakfast as you head out the door, you may be surprised to learn the calorie and sugar count on popular pasties. In fact, some commercially prepared muffins can pack over 500 calories and 40 grams of sugar. Additionally, these items are often enjoyed with additional calories, like a spread of butter or sweetened jam, making them even worse for your waistline.
If quick bread and muffins are a household favorite, try making your own with unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar and whole wheat flour for a lower-sugar, higher-fiber option.
Whether it’s dressing in your salad, toppings to your burger, or dips with chips, condiments can be surprisingly high in calories, fat, sodium, and sugar. While these items add flavor to your meal or snack, you may want to consider alternatives if you want a six-pack this summer. A single tablespoon of mayo is nearly 100 calories, while your favorite salad dressing can pack 150 calories in a single serving. This concentration of calories that’s often added to other calorie-dense items like burgers, hot dogs, chips, chicken nuggets, and more, may keep you from feeling lean.
Instead, choose lower-calorie condiments like mustard, vinegar, and salsa to add flavor to your food. And, if you must enjoy the traditional options, cut your typical portion in half to save calories, sodium, and sugar.
Delicious and convenient, many of us have frozen pizza in our freezers right now. Although you can enjoy pizza while reaching your leanness goals, it can be a difficult balance to achieve. A single serving of frozen pizza, which is likely less than what you would typically enjoy, can provide more than 400 calories and over a third of the sodium you should have in a day. Double or triple these numbers to meet a typical portion of pizza, and you have a meal exceptionally high in calories, fat, sodium, and refined carb.
If you are craving pizza, try making your own with a whole wheat thin crust, part-skim cheese, and lower-calorie toppings like vegetables and browned ground turkey in place of traditional meat toppings.