You need to eat nutrition-dense foods to achieve your six-pack goals. Here is a step-by-step guide to transforming your abs.
The path to ripped abs isn’t the same as the one that leads to a big chest or arms—it has much more to do with nutrition and diet. Zeroing in on your diet is non-negotiable.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to transforming your abs in 90 days.
Step 1: Find Your Micronutrient
You are aware that you need to cut calories to lose fat, but how exactly do you do that? Now the question is how do you know exactly how many calories you’re taking in if you don’t record them properly? Also, not all calories are equal. You can achieve a calorie deficit by eating nothing but bread and water, but do you really think your body will look better at the end of 90 days with this strategy?
Breaking your calories down into macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat—and counting them each day. This isn’t as brutal as it sounds, but it does require you to read food labels and invest in a food scale.
Getting the right amount of each micronutrient gives your body the nutrition it needs to hold onto muscle and fuel your workouts without storing any extra fat. There isn’t an exact macro formula that will give you abs in 90 days. Here are some tips to find your micronutrient.
1. Multiply your bodyweight (in pounds) by 13. This determines the number of calories you need to eat in your diet. For example, a 180-pound man should start consuming 2,340 calories daily.
2. Eat one gram of protein per pound of your body weight. So, a 180-pound guy will eat 180 grams of protein.
Protein is the most essential macronutrient while you’re getting lean because an optimal protein intake will help your body hold onto lean muscle mass while also helping you feel fuller and more satisfied after your meals.
Now find out how many calories your protein allowance counts for by multiplying the number by four. (Since a gram of protein contains four calories, 180 grams protein has 720 calories.)
3. Subtract the protein calories you just calculated from your calorie total. That leaves 1,620 calories for the 190-pounder (2,340 – 720 = 1,620).
4. Now you need to figure out how many grams of carbs and fat you’ll eat. Divide the calories that are left in half. In our example, 1,620 divided by two equals 810. A gram of carbs has four calories, just like protein, so dividing 810 by four leaves the 180-pound fella with 203 grams carbs to eat. A gram of fat has nine calories, meaning that he’s allowed 90 grams of fat.
Now, we’ve determined that a 180-pound man will need to eat 180 grams of protein, 203 grams of carbs, and 90 grams of fat to start his diet.
This is not an exact science, but it doesn’t need to be. You’re welcome to round your numbers to the nearest whole if that makes it easier for you to remember or count them. You also may find that you’re still eating a little too much to lose weight, even if you’re hitting your macro targets perfectly give it two weeks. If you’re still not losing weight then, reduce the carb and fat totals a little bit and keep tracking your weight. With a few weeks of trial and error, you’ll find the macros that work.
Step 2. Eat Real Food
The number of calories you eat is the easiest determiner of where your weight is going, but, just like your macros, the quality of your food plays an important role. Try to have most of your diet made up of unprocessed and minimally processed foods. If a food contains ingredients that you can’t get and cook yourself, that’s a food you want to minimize in your diet. This will add more nutrient-rich foods that will help you feel fuller and more satisfied per calorie.”
This rule makes all the counting you set yourself up for with your macros much easier. It’s easier to calculate the protein in some plain skinless chicken breasts you cook yourself than it is to figure out how many grams are in a Chipotle burrito (never mind what they say in the nutrition info on their website). You can track the fat in two tablespoons of olive oil you toss on your salad better than you can estimate the butter they put in your hashbrowns at a restaurant. (With that said, you CAN eat out on this plan; see Step 4.)
Most of your protein comes from lean meats, like top round beef, chicken breast, turkey, white fish, and shellfish. Let your carbs come from broccoli, kale, peppers, spinach, whole grains and starches (oats, quinoa, potatoes), and beans and legumes (lentils, black beans, chickpeas). Your fats should come mainly as a byproduct of your protein foods (there’s still fat in most meats) but you can also have some olive oil, nuts, and avocados to round it out. Learn to cook yourself, and embrace calorie-free seasonings.
Step 3. Plan Your Menu Smartly
Changing up the foods you eat every day and trying to fit gourmet meals into your schedule may make the process more enjoyable. However, it is much easier to eat the same thing for breakfast all week than to eat seven different breakfasts just for the sake of variety.
When it comes to meal plans, boring is better. Pick a few foods for each meal that you will eat almost every day, and prepare them in advance. Spending a couple of hours on the weekend preparing your weekly menu will save a lot of time and potential headaches during the week.
Make Sunday your day to do your food shopping, and spend the afternoon grilling your chicken and fish so you have a stockpile of protein to portion out over the course of the week. Bonus tip: buy protein foods in bulk to save money. When it is time to eat, if your food is right there, you’ll eat it. If you need to stop, think about what you are supposed to have, and then go find it, the chances of you sticking to the plan are greatly reduced.
Step 4. Eat OutSmart
There will surely be times over the course of 90 days when you’ll want or need to eat at restaurants or get taken out, and this doesn’t have to derail your diet. Instead of ordering foods advertised as battered, breaded, crisp, fried, or smothered, choose baked, braised, grilled, poached, or steamed.
Start your meals with a salad, and ask for the oil and vinegar on the side, so you can control the amounts you fat. The same goes for any other dressings or sauces. Replace your side orders of potatoes or rice with extra vegetables.
I said earlier that starchy foods are OK, but when you’re eating out, you often take in more calories than you realize; cutting out starches helps offset this.
Avoid drinking alcohol, or any other calorie-containing beverages—ask for water, tea, unsweetened ice tea, or diet soda. Ignore the bread or tortilla chips on the table, as they’re too easy to overeat without even noticing.
Finally, leave leftovers because most restaurant portions are much too big, so set aside at least one-third of it to bring home for later.
Step 5. Avoid Thinking It’s “All or Nothing”
There is the biggest mistake guys make when trying to uncover their abs: They will be 100% committed to their diet, but then Friday night rolls around, someone orders pizza, they have a slice, and then all of a sudden it’s, ‘Oh, I’ll just have four more slices and start my diet on Monday.
When you cheat, try to cheat as little as you can, and eat smart again at your next meal. Don’t say, “screw it,” pig out further, and set yourself back even more.
“If you end up having a couple of slices of pizza, OK, that’s not a big deal, but stop at two, then get refocused by making sure your next meal is one that supports your goal of getting abs.