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The saying, "abs are made in the kitchen," is an old one, but with good reason. You can exercise all you want, but without the right foods and proper nutrition, it won't get you very far. As nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH author of "The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss," puts it, "Your gut is really where it's at. The inside will reflect on the outside with regards to keeping bloating at bay and your tummy flat."
Words of the wise, you might say. With the advent and rise of cropped wedding dresses, more and more brides-to-be are committed to getting that six-pack for the big day. And even if you won't be showing off your abs down the aisle, chances are you will be in your new bikini on the honeymoon. So make sure you incorporate these five foods in your diet, as they'll help supplement your ab workouts to get the look you're going for.
1. Plain Yogurt
"The probiotic bacteria in most yogurts help keep your digestive system healthy, which translates into a lower incidence of gas, bloating, and constipation, which can keep your tummy looking flat," says Batayneh. Sound boring? Top it off with the next food on this list.
2. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds, or other sources of clean protein, such as organic pasture-raised eggs and pure almond butter, should be a critical part of your diet. In fact, certified nutritionist and wellness coach Kara Stout, M.Ed., HHC, recommends eating clean protein at every meal. "[It's] necessary for many reasons, including helping you to not overeat, keeping you full longer, preserving lean muscle mass, and encouraging fat burning." She adds that you can easily add in clean protein by making a smoothie with both hemp seeds and almond butter.
Or any other food rich in potassium for that matter, such as bananas or dark, leafy greens. "The two main minerals that control the amount of water in your body are sodium and potassium," says Batayneh. "When they are out of balance and your stress levels are too high in your body, your tissues will hold onto fluids, which leads to bloating." Luckily, there's no shortage of ways to consume avocado these days!
4. Warm Lemon Water
Stout advises drinking warm lemon water first thing when you wake up in the morning. "This helps with your digestion and detoxifying, which ultimately leads to a flatter stomach," she adds.
"Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, and it soothes the digestive system and relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, which can relieve bloating," says Batayneh. Instead of unwinding at night with a glass of wine, she suggests kicking back with a cup of ginger tea sweetened with a little honey.
And remember, what you don't put in your body is just as important as what you put into it. Stout says that one of the most effective steps her brides take in losing weight and obtaining a flat and toned stomach is avoiding refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. "In addition to these being harmful to your general health, they cause bloating, weight gain, increased sugar cravings, and can increase hunger," she says.
Batayneh adds that you want to keep your blood sugar stable to avoid dips in energy — otherwise, you'll turn to almost any food that's around you.
You should also reduce bread, alcohol, and processed foods from your diet and avoid over salting your food. As Stout puts it, "You want to eat plenty of clean, whole foods to reach your goals."