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May 9, 2011

Eat These Diet Foods to Get Abs

To get the number on the scale to go down, you have to chow down. (And work out -- but more on that here.) Between 10 and 30 percent of the calories you use each day get burned by the simple act of digesting your food. Now that's pretty cool -- satisfying your food cravings actually fries calories! But not all foods are created equal. Your body uses more calories to digest protein (about 25 burned for every 100 consumed) than it does to digest fats and carbohydrates (10 to 15 burned for every 100 consumed).

That's why the Abs Diet concentrates on adding lean, healthy proteins. Eat more of them, in a sensible way, and you'll torch more calories. Protein is also the nutrient that builds muscle -- and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the more calories you'll burn throughout the day. When you lift and lower weights, you create microscopic tears in your muscles. To mend the tears, your body parachutes in new protein to assess the damage and repair the muscle. Proteins fortify the original cell structure by building new muscle fibers.

This wonder child of the nutrition world also makes you feel fuller faster. But the good news doesn't stop there. Following an eating plan that emphasizes lean proteins will accelerate weight loss from your midsection first.

The Abs Diet plan is simple: Just stick to the six guidelines below and follow the Abs Diet Quickstart Workout for weight loss success. You can burn a serious hunk of fat -- from your belly first -- in just a few weeks.

Let the belly flattening begin!

1. Guideline - Eat six times a day.

Key concept: "energy balance"--that is, how many calories you're burning versus how many you're taking in. Researchers at Georgia State University found that if you keep your hourly surplus or deficit within 300 to 500 calories at all times, you will best be able to lose fat and add lean muscle mass. If you eat only three squares a day, you're creating energy imbalances: Between meals, you're burning more calories than you're taking in; at mealtimes, you're consuming more than you're burning. So alternate larger meals with smaller snacks and eat every 2 to 3 hours. It will keep you full and satisfied, which reduces the likelihood of a diet-destroying binge.

2. Guideline - Make these 12 Powerfoods your diet staples, as well as these foods that burn fat.

3. Guideline - Drink smoothies on a regular basis.

Smoothies--blended mixtures of milk, low-fat yogurt, whey protein powder, ice, and other good stuff from the Powerfoods list -- can act as meal substitutes and potent snacks. They require little time; berries, flavored whey powder, or peanut butter will satisfy your sweet tooth; and their thickness takes up space in your stomach. So get a blender and whip up an 8-ounce smoothie for breakfast or have one before or after your workout.

4. Guideline - Stop counting.

By eating the 12 Powerfoods and their many relatives, the foods themselves will, in a way, count your calories for you. They'll keep you healthy and satisfied. Plus, the most energy-efficient foods are almost like bouncers at a nightclub: They're not going to let any of the riffraff in without your approval. That said, it's always wise -- especially in the beginning, when you're most vulnerable and adjusting to a new way of eating -- to focus on portion control by limiting the servings of some foods, particularly the ones with fat (like peanut butter) and carbohydrates (like rice or bread). A good rule: Stick to one or two servings per food group and confine the total contents of each meal to the diameter of your plate.

5. Guideline - Know what to drink -- and what not to.

There are many ways that alcohol can get you into trouble. It doesn't make you feel full or decrease the amount of food you consume. In fact, alcohol encourages your body to burn up to 36 percent less fat and makes you store more of the fat you eat. And it can inhibit your body's production of hormones that help burn fat and build muscle. If you can't pass up your pinot, limit yourself to two or three alcoholic drinks a week. Water may not be as exciting as 'Weiser, but drinking about eight glasses of the clear stuff a day has a lot of benefits. It helps keep you satiated (often what we interpret as hunger is ?really thirst). It flushes the waste products your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy or when it processes protein. And it transports nutrients to your muscles to keep your metabolism clicking. Otherwise, the best drinks you can have are low-fat milk and green tea (or, if you must, two glasses of diet soda a day).

6. Guideline - For one meal a week, forget the first five guidelines.

We would never advocate cheating on your spouse or your taxes. But we want you to cheat on this diet. Take one meal during the week and forget everything about good carbohydrates and good fats. Have half a pizza, a Kit Kat, Alfredo sauce, or whatever it is you miss the most. Think of this cheat meal as the carrot at the end of a good week of eating. Enjoy the gluttony -- and please, don't take "carrot" literally.

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