The Abs Diet

The secret to a slim stomach isn't endless sit ups - It's a diet low in sugar and refined carbs.

After 10 years spent working in the fitness industry, the number one question I still get is, "How can I lose this flab around the middle?" While there are no proven ways to spot-reduce your stomach, I have found that certain diet techniques can whittle your tummy faster than you might believe. So read on to learn how to eat for your abs. It isn't easy, but you'll be thrilled with the outcome.

The anatomy of ab flab

As we get older, and our hormone levels fluctuate, we become more prone to abdominal fat. In a nutshell, the older you get, the more apt you are to have fat around the middle. That goes for men and women alike. Abdominal fat is not only unattractive and uncomfortable, but it is also unhealthy, as individuals with higher levels of fat around the middle are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes.

Until just recently, I didn't have any advice for my clients looking to show off their abs. I would simply suggest that they try to lose more weight. However, as you may well know, losing weight alone does not guarantee a tight midsection. Then new research came out that suggested that a diet low in sugar and refined carbs could actually help you to shed belly fat  very exciting! I tried it myself  and encouraged my clients to try it – and sure enough, a diet that strictly limited sugar and refined carbs did result in looser jeans.

The basics behind the AB-solute diet

Before I discuss which foods to avoid on your new diet, let me give you a brief lesson on biochemistry so that you will understand what is going on behind the scenes of this diet. When you eat high-sugar foods, say orange juice or raisins, your blood sugar rises. This rise in blood sugar causes your body to produce insulin to bring your blood sugar down. This is called the "glycemic response." It is thought that insulin causes fat deposition on the abdomen, though this is not yet confirmed. The diet that we will strive to follow will have a low glycemic response. In other words, you will not eat foods that cause your blood sugar to rise and, subsequently, your body will not produce as much insulin.

Foods to eat and foods to avoid

Below you will find a chart of foods that should be avoided and foods that should be included in your new diet. You will find that the first 2-3 days of this diet is downright difficult, as you will likely be going through sugar withdrawal. Sugar is a highly addictive food, and your body will be craving it! You might have a headache and feel lethargic, but after 3 days you will be amazed at how your cravings will have vanished; you will feel more energetic and, likely, somewhat thinner!

Foods to Avoid: Foods to Choose:
Fruit juice Whole fruit (limited to 1-2 servings per day)
Dried fruit Whole grains, such as wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal (limited to 3 servings per day)
White bread Vegetables
Bagels Vegetable and chicken-based soups
White rice Lean protein such as poultry, eggs, egg whites and fish
White potatoes Plain yogurt
Muffins and baked goods Cottage cheese
Cookies Lowfat cheese
Candy Low-sugar pudding and Jell-o
Breakfast cereals with less than 5 grams of fiber per serving Nuts and nut butters
High-sugar fruit yogurt Lots of water
Frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet Diet drinks (limited to 1-2 servings per day)
Sucking candy and mints  
Sugared drinks  


Other principles of the diet:

As is true with all FIRM diets, you need to eat a balanced diet that consists of 3 meals and about 2-3 snacks per day. You also need to ensure adequate protein intake to fuel your workouts and your muscles. If you follow these principles, you will be creating a very stable and even blood sugar level. This, combined with calorie control and exercise, is sure to reduce the inches around your waist.

If you must...

Since we don't expect you to follow this rigid diet long-term, let me give you a few hints on the best ways to "cheat." If you absolutely must have something sweet, choose a sweet that also has some fat in it, such as chocolate, rather than one that is all sugar, such as jelly beans, which would cause your blood sugar to rise more rapidly. The same thing goes for refined carbs. If you absolutely must have a plate of pasta, try to add protein and olive oil to it to reduce the blood sugar response. And, whenever you choose to deviate from the plan, be sure to practice good portion control.

The Firm

Sara Ryba is a registered dietitian, certified dietary nutritionist and a contributor to The FIRM Believers Club website, an online community that helps you reach your fitness, health and weight loss goals. With maximum-efficiency home workouts, support and motivation from The FIRM Master Instructors, daily tips, personalized workout rotation calendars, and access to other members through discussion boards, The Club provides all the tools you need to get in the shape you want.


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