Abs are often one of the top areas of the body many people work hard to strengthen and improve, which isn’t a bad thing. Aside from a nice physique, strong abs are actually important for your health. Your abs are part of your core that supports your entire body. When you strengthen your abs, you’re naturally helping to strengthen your core. This can prevent back pain, poor posture, and even strains and injuries during exercise. But sit-ups alone aren’t enough to take care of your abs; you need a mix of cardio to maintain a healthy weight, should practices exercises that strengthen your back (such as yoga, weight training and good posture), and you should also eat a clean diet.
Though many bodybuilders eat skinless chicken breasts, egg whites, fish, and whey protein to get those “ripped” abs we hear so much about, you really don’t need those foods to get great abs or a strong core. They’re also not the best foods for maintaining a healthy body long-term because they promote inflammation in the body. Plant-based options on the other hand, give you the nutrients you need for long-term health and yes, for great abs too!
While exercise is of course important for building strong abs, the saying that “Abs are made in the kitchen,” really is true. The cleaner your diet, the better your abs will be, so check out some plant-based options that can help give you great abs, along with some reasons why and recipes you can give a try.
Quinoa is a high protein grain that’s excellent for protein synthesis in the body since it contains all essential amino acids that you need. It’s also low in fat and a good source of fiber and potassium. Fiber will help keep your digestive system regular so you maintain flatter abs, and potassium helps fight water weight grain that can occur from too much salt or processed foods that makes you puffy and retain water. Finally, quinoa is a good source of iron, which will strengthen your whole body and provide necessary energy. Check out these quinoa recipes and try a few to get started!
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are some of nature’s most powerful foods you can eat. For your waistline, they provide fiber and magnesium to regulate your blood sugar, and even benefit your hormones. Cortisol is a fat-storing hormone that increases when blood sugar levels are low and stress levels are high. This is a normal response, but when cortisol stays elevated for too long, it can cause you to store excess weight in your abdominal region. You can help keep your hormones healthy by eating a clean diet and consuming powerful anti-stress foods, such as leafy greens. They not only offer hormonal benefits, but also pack in plenty of potassium and amino acids. Choose from healthy sources like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, collards and romaine a little more often.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds provide fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. These nutrients benefit your blood pressure, blood sugar, protein formation, and/or support your overall body weight. Chia seeds can help you stay full, energized, and they help prevent bloating and constipation. This will help your abs appear flatter and also prevent low energy levels that hinder your workouts.
Berries are low on the glycemic index and very high in fiber. This helps keep you full and prevents high blood sugar levels. Blueberries have even been linked to excess weight loss in the abdominal region and all berries help keep the body flushed from toxins naturally due to their high potassium and vitamin C content. Don’t turn to diuretics and fiber pills like some people do for great abs, just eat more berries and other foods here instead!
Oats are also fabulous for your abs. They’re packed with beta glucan fibers that specifically fight abdominal weight gain. Oats are also a great source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and even calcium. With 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup of raw oats, these whole grains can’t be beat. Even bodybuilders who typically use animal-based proteins include oats in their meals because they have so many benefits. Try all our oatmeal recipes, and even soak yours with coconut yogurt for more belly benefits!
Other Tips for Great Abs
Aside from these foods, you also need good sources of protein in your diet to maintain strong abs, such as beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, tofu, and tempeh. If you enjoy protein powders for shakes and smoothies, be sure you choose one that’s vegan, raw if possible, non-GMO, and made from whole foods (not isolates). It’s also a great idea to include at least 5-7 servings of veggies and fruits daily to maintain a healthy diet and give your body the cleanest form of nutrition possible. These foods provide fiber, potassium, and help cleanse the body naturally to prevent inflammation, irregularity and stress all in one. Lastly, don’t forget a few servings of healthy fats per day. Coconut is especially great for your abs, and avocado, almonds and hemp seeds are other great options too.
Overall, if you watch the salt, sugar, alcohol, and processed or fast foods, your abs will improve in no time. Eat more of these plant-based options, do core-strengthening exercises, and be sure to get your rest. For more tips, see 5 Ways to Gain Strength and Stamina on a Vegan Diet, try this advice from one of our favorite vegan bodybuilders, and eat more of these 5 Plant-Based Foods That Will Help You Build Muscles.
What’s your favorite vegan ab-friendly food?
Lead Image Source: Veggie Grain Goodness Bowl