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Eating Clean: Are You Cheating On Your Abs?

Eating Clean: Are You Cheating On Your Abs?

Average: 4.2 (6 votes)
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Stop wasting your time and finally get those illusive six pack abs you are after by cutting back on sugar intake, high frequency cheat meals and processed foods.

Depending on your goal, you can’t have your cake and eat it too! Step slowly away from the cake. If your goal is to see your abs pop, then I will let you in on a little secret. Abs are not made in the gym; they are made in the kitchen.

If you are doing countless hours of cardio and ab crunches and seeing no results, it’s time to reevaluate your program. Everyone wants the secret to a six pack; well this truth may hurt...it's your diet. Until you clean up your diet you will never see the lusted after six pack.

I speak with people all the time who are frustrated. They tell me that they ‘eat clean.’ Really are you?

What is your idea of eating clean? Think about this for a moment: if you can’t kill it or grow it, you shouldn't eat it. I told you this may hurt, but how bad do you want those abs?

The key component to losing body fat is not only being in a caloric deficit, but also having good nutrition. This means avoiding processed foods. If you can’t pronounce it, don't eat it.

The less processed a food is, the better it is for you. Read labels and remember, the fewer ingredients the better.  Canned foods are processed. Deli meats are processed and full of nitrates; avoid them both.

When reading labels be aware of ingredients such as minerals and vitamins. If they appear on the label they have been added, and the product is processed and not a good choice. This rule applies with 2% and low fat milk, as they both have added ingredients. Avoid them.

Better choices would include almond, goat or rice milk. If you are thinking, “what about my soy milk?” Soy produces estrogen and estrogen produces fat!

The body can only process 3-6 grams of sugar at one time (maximum 6). More than 6 grams turns to fat. Look at simple sugar as poison in the body.

It takes 3 weeks to withdraw from simple sugars. You will experience withdrawals; it is a chemical. Sweet-n-low and Splenda are chemicals. Choose Stevia, 1 TBSP honey or 1 TBSP sugar (no more!) A fruit by itself is a sugar!

Six pack abs

Everyone wants the secret to a six pack; well this truth may hurt...it's your diet. Until you clean up your diet you will never see the lusted after six pack.

As for carbohydrates, select from complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, old fashioned oatmeal and sweet potatoes. Avoid simple carbohydrates including white rice, white bread and white bagels.

Some excellent choices include Ezekiel bread, Kangaroo whole wheat pita pockets, and Gia Russia whole wheat angel hair pasta. Ezekiel bread can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. The Kangaroo pockets can be located near the deli section. Select a grain with 3 grams of fiber or more.

Cheat Days And Six Pack Abs

Now what about those cheat days? I have found out through trial and error what worked best for me, and that was setting aside the cheat days.

For a long time I heard it was okay to have a cheat meal once a week, and that this would help my metabolism. I used this practice for quite a while, using different variations including a single cheat meal on a Friday, or an entire day of cheating once a week. Then I decided to stick to my meal plan do a cheat day or cheat meal only once a month.

Then it got to the point where I really wasn’t interested in cheating. It was almost too stressful to figure out what I really wanted! It was easier to stick to the plan. It was right after I had this epiphany that my abs started showing.

If you are eating clean, but still in a caloric surplus, your abs will not show. You not only have to eat clean but also be in a caloric deficit with relatively low body fat for your abs to really show. A higher amount of clean calories on training days and a lower amount of clean calories and carbs on non train days.

Now this does not mean if I was super duper hungry on leg day, I would not have an extra cup of oatmeal. I would, but the calories would be clean. No ifs, ands or buts about it!

Of course there is always an exception to every rule (post-workout nutrition) but this is a topic for another day. Your body also tells you what it needs. After a while you get so used to eating clean you stop craving junk, it is just a mindset.

This gave me the best results, the most muscle, and very little fat deposit. When you start to incorporate cheat meals or indulge in sugar, no matter how you cut, too much sugar equals belly fat. Simple as that!

Conclusion

When you whine and say you are not reaching your goal, take a look - I mean a REAL look at how clean you are eating. I bet you will answer your own question...you aren’t eating as clean as you could be.

Again it all depends on your goals, but if you are on a quest to see the illusive six pack, ditch those cheat meals, eat clean and watch your abs pop! That is the secret.

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  • About The Author
    In 2000 my health was significantly deteriorating due to an autoimmune disease. I got sick of being sick and took matters into my own hands.
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Comments (72)

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chris
Posted Wed, 09/12/2012 - 17:52

I dont understand I drink skim milk two-three cups a day should i stop drinking this to see better results..

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Daivd
Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 13:07

Well, Chris it really depends on the intake of the milk.If you are eating clean in all other aspects it won't hurt having the milk if it is done lower amounts. I personally only drink milk with my protein shake and even then I cut it with more water to avoid large intakes of milk.

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Lisa
Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 14:32

Hi Chris,
Check the label on your skim milk. You'd be suprised it may have 10 or more grams of sugar. If your goal is to lean out and see those abs you may want to eliminate it. David has a good idea drink it in your pre/post shake. These are the two times it is okay to have sugar, your body needs it!

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Daivd
Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 17:00

I may not be the best to comment because I am trying to mass gain. So need a high calorie intake to get to that mass gain. I have a protein in the morning and a protein after working out. So I really only have two servings of milk a day and it is cut with water.

Oh, and on another note what do you guys think about you using creatine?

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LISA
Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 15:50

HI David,
Continue on with the milk in your protein shakes. Good for gaining mass and Post for sure can't go wrong! Creatine ROcks very beneficial for mass gains!

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Jackfish
Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 21:51

Lisa just to clear up my confusion regarding eating fruit. I eat tons of fruits, berries and veggies. You are saying I should stop eating fruit to help reveal my abs? I'm one of those clean eaters that struggle with my abs. I eat no sugar, processed food or fatty meats. (I do like a glass of red wine or two but infrequently). I often eat natural Greek yogurt with fruit, I hate to think I have to cut it out as it has helped me achieve some fantastic physical and strength goals.

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LISA
Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 15:57

Hi Jackfish
Yes, I hate to tell you even though you are eating clean fruit has sugar and it will spike your insulin levels. If your goal is to get lean then you must eliminate sugar from your diet. Sugar is in all dairy (lactose), Fruit (fructose) candy (refined sugar) (which does not apply to you!)but is also in alcohol. Check the label on your greek yogurt how much sugar is in it? This is why you are not getting the results you are after. I bet this will make a difference for you!

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Sameerah
Posted Tue, 01/21/2014 - 12:28

Sorry to disappoint, but unless you're eating fresh meat only, you will not be able to eliminate all natural sugar from your diet. Dairy, fruit, and vegetables all contain carbohydrate. Even protein is converted to glucose via the process of gluconeogenesis. Glucose is the body's preferred fuel source. When you try to eliminate carbohydrate, the body breaks down muscle tissue and converts it's to glucose for energy, the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Therefore, it is counterproductive to under consume carbohydrate since it's protein sparing.

DTR, Certified Sports Nutrition Consult. CPT, Certified Health Coach

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Tina Gaines
Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 16:00

Great article! Thanks for the pointers on how to achieve abs that pop in a good way! I hate doing cardio. I am watching my sugar intake, avoiding processed foods, and eating clean. So now I am no longer waisting my time. I will let you know when I achieve those ABS that POP!!!(in a good way)

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LISA
Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 16:21

Hi Tina,
That is great! Keep me posted!

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chris
Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 16:13

Hey lisa I plan on eating a Banana and fat free greek yogurt post workout would this be to much sugar for post work out if so how many grams do you suggest sugar post workout ?

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Lisa
Posted Wed, 09/19/2012 - 13:22

Hi Chris,
You are fine to have your banana and greek yogurt post workout! Post workout is the one window where your body needs fast digesting carbs (sugar) to replenish your glycogen stores. So enjoy it! (:

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Quincy
Posted Sat, 09/22/2012 - 18:52

Great post and comment. Lots of good information for us inspiring trainers, nutritionist and dieticians.

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Lisa
Posted Tue, 09/25/2012 - 05:41

Hi Quincy
Thanks! Glad it was helpful!

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yourname
Posted Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:33

Great article, but I'm very new to all of this, is there anywhere I can go for an introduction because I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed?

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Lisa
Posted Wed, 11/14/2012 - 12:19

Thanks! Don't get overwhelmed it takes time to make these changes. Start slowly by eliminating some processed foods from your diet. You may want to pick up a copy of 'The Eat Clean Diet' by Tosca Reno. You will find a lot of healthy recipes in there to get you started! I will also be writing more articles related to this topic!(:

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Laura
Posted Wed, 11/28/2012 - 10:35

Hi Lisa, great article!
I'm 5'2 and weigh 112, so I'm a small woman but struggling to get the abs I want. I've been doing core workout, glutes, quads and arm workout, followed by cardio a few times a week. After every work out I drink a protein smoothie. If the protein smoothie has milk and other added sugar to it, is it defeating the purpose? I try to eat very well but still eat things like pizza and Chinese food. Would those things only be allowed on cheat days? Thank you!

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Lisa
Posted Wed, 11/28/2012 - 17:04

Hi Laura,
Thanks! Sounds like you are doing a lot of right things. Keep that protein smoothie and milk after your workout. This is the one time (post workout) you can have sugar and your body won't store it as fat. I think you already know the answer to the pizza and the chinese food!

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Jason
Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 15:27

Lisa,

Thanks for writting an article and sharing it with this community. I am one of those people who thought they were eating clean and after reading this realize I'm not eating very clean at all.

It would be really helpful to see a list of foods you recommend.

Thanks again.

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Lisa
Posted Fri, 11/30/2012 - 13:28

Hi Jason,
Thanks so much, glad you found it useful. I will have some more articles coming out in the month of December. One of those articles will have some good suggestions for you! So be on the look out!(:

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marva lewis
Posted Wed, 12/19/2012 - 11:30

Hi,

Thanks for all the information on how to eat right, I would appreciate a listing of what foods to buy also some recipes.

thanks again.

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LisaH
Posted Fri, 12/21/2012 - 09:15

Hi Marua,

Checkout my article on How To Maximize Nutrition and Six Pack Abs And Diet this will help you with your shopping list! I will be posting some recipes in the upcoming weeks.

Happy Cooking!

Lisa

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myra
Posted Mon, 02/11/2013 - 18:18

What are your recommendations on wheat bread? I've been eating at least 4 slices of bread on a daily basic. Is this too much?!

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Lisa H
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:37

Hi Myra,
Take a look at the ingredients in your wheat bread. If it has added minerals and vitamins I would switch out to a less processed bread such as Ezekiel.
Lisa(:

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Lisa DeLeon
Posted Sun, 02/17/2013 - 20:28

Hi,
I need your help!!! I am eatingclean and doing P90x 6 days a week... I feel like my abs look better but at this point I feel like I should have a six pack!!! What am I doing wrong... Could I not be eating enough or to much?? So frustrated!!!!

Thanks

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Trevor
Posted Tue, 02/19/2013 - 15:43

I buy canned chicken/salmon/tuna of course as a protein source and because its cost efficient and in the article it says canned foods are bad..I'm confused

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Lisa H
Posted Wed, 02/20/2013 - 14:47

Trevor,
You should be fine with that. Make sure it is packaged in water for a better option.
Lisa H

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rhonda
Posted Fri, 02/22/2013 - 08:59

LOVE THIS FORUM!!! I am on my way to seeing those abs!! lol, just by tweeking my diet. I find challenges right now though as I am a women pre-menoposal (51), No bad symptoms except heavy monthly cycles that crush me down for 3-4 days, I dont know what to do except listen to my body, and it says REST ( i ALSO INCLUDE iRON AND EXTRA VIT c) DURING THESES DAYS. Craving are my only other "enemy" at this time. Any others have this type of problem or suggestions.???? Keep these great articles coming!!! very easy to understand, but mostly its all logic, just guess we have to hear it from a Professional, to have it sink in!! Sometrime the truth hurts, lol

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Lisa H
Posted Fri, 02/22/2013 - 14:10

Hi Rhonda,
That is great and good to hear. Keep it up girl and you are well on your way! (: You are smart to listen to your body too. You may want to include some red meat such as lamb or buffalo durning your 'heavy cycles.' This will help you recover quicker!
I love hearing stories like this! Thanks for sharing!
Lisa H

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Jessica
Posted Tue, 03/05/2013 - 22:36

Hi, im jessica.
Im vegan. And im trying to define my abs !
This article means i cannot eat fruits?!
I want to lose like 5 kilos to define abs.

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Lisa H
Posted Tue, 03/12/2013 - 06:09

Hi Jessica,
If your are trying to define your abs and get lean you must reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet. I would limit the fruits also make sure you are in a calorie deficit to see those abs pop!
Hope that helps you!
Lisa H (:

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Runner girl
Posted Fri, 03/08/2013 - 14:07

Thanks for the article! Like many who have wrote before, I workout 6 days a week with cardio, some weights, core workouts, and eat pretty well. I do love my fruits and have been eating more of it (grapes, melon) which may be why I don't see much ab progress lately. What do you suggest for a daily fruit in take? Should i A banana and an apple?

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Lisa H
Posted Tue, 03/12/2013 - 06:14

Hi Runner Girl,
I like that name!(: Everything in moderation, but if your looking for a six pack, limit your fruit intake to postwork out. Fruit = Fructose and Fructose = sugar! Good to see you are weight training and doing cardio too. If you still aren't seeing the results you desire make sure you diet is in check eating 'pretty well' and eating clean are two different things. Eating clean in the long run will provide you with the results you are looking for!
Best of luck to you!(:
Lisa H

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Chasity
Posted Fri, 03/22/2013 - 15:56

Where can I get a good meal plan?

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Lisa H
Posted Mon, 04/01/2013 - 13:14

Hi Chasity,
I think this will help you get started!
http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/a-guide-to-muscle-building-and...
Best of Luck to YOU!
Lisa H

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Kyle
Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 22:44

Let me be honest here.a few years back a used to be fatty, but i started eating things such as those mentioned in the article while working out mute, and i had a six pack in a year and a half.before, when i first started,i was very strict on regards to what i are. Now it had gotten to the point where i eat whatever i want to, and it doesn't change my figure.last week i are two large pizzas on consecutive days, didn't work out, and still woke up in the morning with a six pack. So yes, always be aware of what you eat, but don't stress yourself about it, results will come with time.results will

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Lisa H
Posted Fri, 04/05/2013 - 03:29

Kyle,
Congratulations to you. So true, if you stick with it and give it time it will come.

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Akash
Posted Mon, 04/08/2013 - 09:27

Hello
The only sugar i m taking is 2 scoops of protein and 1 dozen bananas daily.
Am i eating right?

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Leah
Posted Fri, 04/19/2013 - 17:12

This link has foods that has sugar, fruits, yogurt..etc
http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/a-guide-to-muscle-building-and...
Could you please suggest what would be ideal diet/meals to cut down on sugars?

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Lisa H
Posted Mon, 04/22/2013 - 12:32

Hi Leah
Your best bet is to limit or eliminate the amount of sugar at each meal. Read the labels. The cleaner your food choices the less sugar they will have.
Good luck to you.

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stephen
Posted Wed, 05/15/2013 - 19:28

This was the dumbest thing i read you can eat whatever you want just gotta be in a deficit. And for your information all carbs convert to sugars so im guessing we should stay away from them sincd we cant eat fruit cause its sugar. Only reason to eat clean is for health issues

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Ted
Posted Sat, 08/31/2013 - 10:03

Stephen, I don't claim to know everything about nutrition, but it seems a little ridiculous to me as well that anything past 6 grams of sugar in a meal turns to fat. This means that almost basically every meal we eat a portion of it turns to fat! Unless we consume absolutely zero carbs. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

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Ted
Posted Fri, 05/31/2013 - 06:42

As a clean sugar substitute, is C&H organic blue agave nectar a good choice?

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Lisa H
Posted Sat, 06/01/2013 - 05:16

Hi Ted,
To be honest I have no experience with it. It is lower on the glycemic index. I would give it a try and see if it works for you.
Lisa

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Ana Lee Rosas
Posted Fri, 06/28/2013 - 14:47

I absolutely love this post! Thank you for all the information, I actually learned something new about the way I was eating! I have been on a healthy fitness journey for about 6 months now and have been trying hard to get rid of my stubborn belly fat! I've lost about 20 lbs and have been gaining muscle since I started weight training in January-but gained a few pounds back (muscle mass) but no progress on my tummy area! I was starting to think it just wasn't in the books for me to have abs, but then I checked MyFitness Pal to see my sugar intake from this past week and holy cow.... NO WONDER I HAVENT BEEN ABLE TO GET RID OF THE BELLY! I have seen progress in my legs, arms, even my shoulders-but never my stomach. I realized my sugar intake ranges from 40-60g a day! Aghh SO glad I came across this, I will be tweaking my diet to incorporate only the sugar intake my body needs. I am pretty sure a trainer once told me to cut out sugar, but I didn't listen (of course). Thank you so much for this, again!

Would love to keep getting fitness/health tips from you!

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Lisa H
Posted Sat, 06/29/2013 - 14:53

Ana Lee,
You are very welcome. It sounds like you are on your way! Please let me know how you do. You can checkout some of my healthy recipes at nutritonbeast.com.
Best of luck!
Lisa H

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@SheLiftsFitness
Posted Sun, 07/07/2013 - 10:11

Best article on this! Very informative. Though i have heard the ans are made in the kitchen phrase countless times you really broke it down right down to the sugar facts. Chicken breast, sweet potato And green beans/ broccoli is my main go to meal. I dont have cheat days or cheat meals but I do have cravings some days and when I am not prepared it can be a pain in the ass!

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Lisa H
Posted Sat, 07/13/2013 - 06:38

SheLiftsFitness,

Thanks so much! It sounds like you are well on your way.
Good luck to you.

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Juan D
Posted Sat, 07/13/2013 - 00:46

Hi Lisa, Great article! Do I have this straight?
1) Eat no more that 6 grams at any one time ( anything more the body turns to fat)
2) You can go over the grams IF and only you eat this after a workout

So for example, If I want to I eat a protein bar that has 9 grams of total sugars, the best thing to do is slice it in half and eat one half now and other half later in the day? Each half I will consume 4.5 sugar grams. Is that they way to do it for this and all foods over the 6 grams sugar threshold?

Or alternatively, if I just worked out I can eat the whole bar?

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Lisa H
Posted Tue, 07/16/2013 - 06:33

Juan D,
Thanks! Yes, I would use that as a general guideline to follow. Everybody's body react a little differently, so you could experiment and keep track. I would save that sugar for post w/o if getting lean is your ultimate goal.
You might also want to rethink the protein bars. Most bars are hard to assimilate, full of chemicals and sugar alcohols too. Check your label. Those little changes can make a big difference.
Let me know how it goes.
Best of luck.

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