Building Abs in the Kitchen

 Myth vs. Fact

Myth: “The best way to build abs is by doing crunches and other core exercises.”

Fact: While building core strength is an ingredient for nice abs, the only way you will really be able to produce the stomach of your dreams is by eating clean balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. By fueling your body with fried and sugary foods you are consuming extra fat and calories. Your body then stores this excess in fat stores. This is why you may notice a thin blanket of fat covering your abs. Try to cut out fried, sugary, and refined foods by replacing them with whole grains such as oats, healthy fats such as avocados, and lean protein such as turkey bacon.

Sports Nutrition 101

Build Your Abs in the Kitchen
Many of us spend hours in the gym trying to get that washboard stomach, especially as summer approaches. It is no surprise that frustration occurs when you look at yourself in the mirror and see your abs hidden behind a thin layer of fat after completing 300 crunches. The secret to getting your dream abs starts in the kitchen. Want to be lean? Eat clean. How can you eat clean? Ditch the refined foods and choose foods such as oatmeal instead of the sugary cereals, sweet potatoes instead of pasta and hummus instead of ranch. By making these adjustments you are not feeding yourself the unneeded “empty calorie” foods. The clean foods will actually provide you with a variety of nutrients that your body needs to perform at its best. You may think that clean-eating means to cut out all fat from your diet, this is not necessarily true. Your body does need some fat to perform, but the key is to limit your intake and try to only consume the healthy fat found in foods like avocado, olive oil and nuts. In addition, make sure you are consuming a whole grain carbohydrate, lean protein and a healthy fat at each meal and snack, with 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Eating small, frequent meals will help from overindulging later, and keep your energy levels up. As you begin fueling your body with clean foods, the six-pack abs you’ve worked so hard for will appear. Here are some clean food options and their benefits:

Clean Fats:
Avocados and Almonds: They provide healthy fats, which help in transporting your fat-soluble vitamins. Fat also provides energy for exercising. Both avocados and almonds also contain antioxidants, which help your immune system in fighting off sickness and disease. Almonds are also a great source of fiber and protein.
How to include them in your diet:
• Add an avocado to your sandwiches and wraps
• Take about 15 almonds with you on the go as a snack

Clean Carbohydrates:
Sweet Potatoes and Oats: These are high fiber carbohydrate foods that provide you with the energy needed during your workouts. The key in choosing carbohydrates is choosing whole wheat/whole grain. High-fiber foods help clean out your digestion pipes and can even help maintain a good level of cholesterol.
How to include them in your diet:
• Bake the sweet potatoes rather than a white potato, or even make sweet potato fries by cutting the sweet
potato into strips and then pouring 1 tbs. of olive oil over the strips, and then bake them
• Choose an oat based granola bar to have as a snack, or add 1⁄4 cup oat based granola to your yogurt

Clean Protein:
Low-fat Greek Yogurt and Natural Peanut butter: Protein helps keep you feel full longer. The high-protein content in yogurt is ideal for repairing muscle tissue after workouts. The healthy fat in natural peanut butter is a great addition to breakfast or snacks.
How to include them in your diet:
• Add 1 tbs. peanut butter to your oatmeal in the morning or pair it with an apple or another fruit
• Mix the low-fat Greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast or blend with banana and peanut butter as a smoothie

Healthy Bites…Recipe of the Month
Vegetarian or Chicken Wraps

“Build Your Abs in the Kitchen by Eating Clean.”
Want to be lean? Eat clean! Choosing foods that are nutrient rich help you get full faster and stay satisfied longer in comparison to their sugary, high-fat counterparts. So if you’re looking for a lean bod, time to clean out your kitchen and stock it full of whole grain carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, low-fat dairy and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Let’s dig into why the ingredients for the “Vegetarian or Chicken Wraps” are part of “eating clean”. Starting with the outside, the whole-wheat tortillas are a carbohydrate source that is high in fiber, so they leave you feeling full longer and provide your body with energy. The black beans are also high in fiber, but black beans are also a protein- rich food. Black beans contain the nutrients folate, magnesium, and zinc, which are important for bone health as well as tissue repair and growth. Hummus is a healthy-fat and is rich in protein and fiber. Hummus also contains zinc, magnesium, and folate. Fresh vegetables such as red bell peppers and spinach can also add a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants, which helps strengthen your immune system and can aid in fighting off sickness and disease. Choosing vegetables in a variety of colors provides a vast array of different nutrients. You can also substitute the black beans with shredded slices of chicken for the lean protein, as well as Vitamin B6.

• 1 whole wheat tortilla
• 1⁄2 c black beans
• 1⁄2 c Hummus (or substitute for 3 oz grilled chicken breast)
• 1⁄2 c veggies (cooked) of choice
Cover the whole wheat tortilla with the black beans, hummus/chicken, and vegetables for a delicious clean wrap!
Vegetarian Wrap: 344 calories, 51g Carbs, 6g Fat, 17g Protein Chicken Wraps: 309 calories, 40g Carbs, 3g Fat, 22g Protein
–Amy Goodson

amy-goodson-quarterback-ranchAmy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine and serves as the sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Soccer Dallas, Jim McClean Golf School, Texas Christian University Athletics, and University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. In addition, she is an adjunct professor and dietetic intern preceptor for Texas Woman’s University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington and is a state media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. . She received her Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Masters in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.