Six Pack Abs And Diet: What The Heck Do You Eat?

Lisa Hostetter
Written By: Lisa Hostetter
December 3rd, 2012
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
221.9K Reads
Sugar, saturated fats, red meat, cheese and milk...are these foods hindering your effort to get six pack abs? Find out what to eat to get shredded.

Six pack absThis is part 2 of the Eating Clean series.

Listen up!

If you want to get lean and have those abs pop, you must reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet.  When sugar is in the program, it stops the ability to release stored fat for energy.

If you read part one of this series you may recall the body can only process 3-6 grams of simple carbohydrates at one time.  This is equivalent to 1 TBSP of sugar.  Sugar is in all dairy (lactose), fruit (fructose), candy (refined sugar) and yes in alcohol too.

All the hard work you do in the gym will not reveal your abs until you eliminate sugar.  If you feel like a hamster on a treadmill and are fed up with doing endless crunches for minimal results, it is time you turn to your kitchen.  If you are in this category, I want you to stop reading this article right now and go into your kitchen to take a closer look at what could be hindering your progress.

Open the refrigerator and cupboards and start reading some labels.  What do you find?

Most cereals that are considered ‘healthy’ are not; their sugar content is usually high and they are processed.  Milk and yogurts are also unsuspecting culprits too.

Are you drinking juice with your breakfast?  How many grams of sugar does it have in one serving?  Remember your body can only process 3-6 grams of sugar at one time.  Over consumption of simple carbohydrates is the leading cause of weight gain.  High sugar intake has also been linked to diabetes.

To really wrap our heads around this, let’s take for example one 8 oz. serving size of plain non-fat Greek yogurt.  It has approx. 9 grams of sugar in it.  Now add 1 cup of blueberries to your Greek yogurt, and you are consuming over 21 grams of sugar in one serving, so 15 grams of sugar will store as fat.

Again if your goal is to get lean, then you must reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet.  The only exception to this rule is your post-workout nutrition.

After vigorous exercise, your body is like a sponge and it is primed to accept simple carbohydrates.  Your glycogen stores have been depleted, and you need to replenish them quickly.  This is your one window of opportunity to enjoy those simple carbohydrates, and it will not store as fat.

Simple carbohydrates can be identified on food labels as raw sugar, brown sugar, turbinado, etc. They are found in most juices, sodas, ice creams, candies and cakes.  White flour-bleached, processed and refined flours can be identified on food labels as enriched, unbleached, durum, semolina, white rice, white pasta and white bread.  Again avoid these, with the exception of your post workout nutrition.

What Else Could Be Hampering Your 6 Pack Progress?

Not all fats are created equal.  Avoid saturated fats, whole milk, red meat, butter and cheese.  Trans fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, most margarines, vegetable shortenings, baked goods, commercially prepared French fries and onion rings.  These unhealthy foods put stress on the pancreas and increase buildup of fat deposition.

Therefore the calories must be kept clean in order for your abs to be revealed.  If you follow those guidelines and are still not able to reveal your six pack, you are in a caloric surplus and will need to cut down on your daily caloric intake.

So What The Heck Do You Eat?

Now that you know what to avoid, it is time to fill the refrigerator with nutritious choices.  Foods that are organically grown, free of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics or steroids are best. This list will help you stock up on some ab-friendly food for the refrigerator.

Protein - select from lean sources such as chicken breast, turkey breast, egg whites, fish, shellfish, and lean pork.  Limit red meat such as veal, bison, lamb and lean beef to once a week.  Some vegetarian sources could include nuts, seeds and legumes such as beans, chick peas and lentils.

Fats - all cold water fish, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, macadamia, pecans, flaxseed, avocado, and olive oil.

Complex carbohydrates - could include whole wheat, rye, barley, spelt, millet, brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa, sweet potatoes, yams and squash.

Fibrous carbohydrates - choices could include a variety of green vegetables including green beans, asparagus, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, kale, collard greens, arugula, okra, peppers, zucchini, celery, mushrooms and eggplant.

The list is endless; you just have to be creative!

Now you have a better understanding of how your body processes sugar, and you have taken an inventory of your refrigerator.  It is time to make some changes!

I bet you have answered your own question as to why you can’t lose that last ounce of belly fat.  Spend some time in the kitchen focusing on planning and preparing your meals for the week.  Make these simple changes and in the long run; your abs will thank you for it.  Let me know how it goes!

Posted on: Tue, 04/04/2017 - 20:16

Great summary thank you for sharing. Just some clarification in relations to dairy and sugar. The disaccharide in milk is lactose composed of glucose and galactose. In most cheeses and yogurts bacteria is added in order to lower the pH of the milk to its isoelectric point to induce different chemical reactions to make cheese, yogurt etc. The bacteria consume and utilize the sugars in milk to produce lactic acid. So most of the sugars in cheese, yogurt and other fermented dairy products are relatively free of sugar. Like mentioned above dairy is high in saturated fatty acids, but contain a very diverse triglycerides that too are broken down by the bacteria in the cheese to free fatty acids and most being short chain fatty acids that are easily absorbed by our bodies. I do think that everything in moderation is important but thought I should share some chemistry. Take it or leave it.

Posted on: Sun, 07/19/2015 - 12:19

Hi Lisa,
I am trying to get 6 pack but I don't know what to eat. Please email me and tell me what the best diet is. I'm 15 years old. My e-mail is

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:33

Lift, work hard, and eat a variety of whole foods. Worry less about a 6 pack and focus on building a solid foundation of muscle that sets you up for success as you get older.

There are no magic foods which you can eat that will guarantee a 6 pack. At your age you should be living life, lifting some, and having fun. Worry less about your abs and just enjoy being a teenager.

Posted on: Tue, 01/27/2015 - 00:32

Hi Lisa,

I'm eating oatmeal with eggs for breakfast, can you tell me the portion size in grams for oatmeal suggested for this diet, also i eat brown rice with vegs and chicken for lunch what are suggested sizes for the rise in grams.


Posted on: Sun, 09/07/2014 - 13:46

He is wrong about saturated fats, another myth that needs to be discarded...

Posted on: Sat, 08/16/2014 - 18:25

I want to loss fat and get a six pack

jayraj kachariya
Posted on: Wed, 07/02/2014 - 05:32

i am too slim boy
pls give me some advise about get mass and six pack abs
what should i eat specialy in veg ?
pls help me

Lisa H
Posted on: Thu, 07/03/2014 - 10:13


I would focus on adding mass first and then worry about the abs later; they will come. For now, I would focus on being in a caloric surplus and progression in the weight room. Make sure your getting a sufficient amount of protein, carbs and some healthy fats. It's great to include vegetables in your diet, but for mass, be sure to include rice, pasta, and other whole grain healthy carbs.

Best of luck!

Posted on: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 12:30

So,how many times during the week can I eat fruit? Just 2 or 3 day along the week?

Posted on: Mon, 06/16/2014 - 00:16

Hi I am trying to get 6 pack but I don't know what to eat how much or when plz email me and tell me what the best diet is I'm 14 thx my email is

Posted on: Sat, 04/05/2014 - 23:14

i use to be 330 and i dropped to 190 by lessing my proportions to normal level im ready to start working out and actively dieting i hold alot of loose skin on my abs and i plan on cutting sugar and fats like you said in the article my question is there anything i can do extra to help the skin recede faster and get rid of the stretch marks

Posted on: Mon, 03/17/2014 - 13:53

Hi Lisa! For Breakfast I have been eating a protein shake mix containing about 1-2 cups of spinach, a half a cup of unsweetened almond coconut milk, a half a scoop of protein powder, a cup of mixed frozen fruit and a half a cup of nonfat plain greek yogurt. It's quick and easy and gets me a serving of veggies in and is about 250 calories. I usually don't have a lot of time In the morning to get breakfast ready so I prepare the shake before bed. Since this article is about cutting sugar I'm worried this shake in the morning is actually hindering me. Should I drink the shake after I work out in the afternoon or is this ok? What would you suggest as an alternative for an easy quick breakfast?

Lisa H
Posted on: Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:46

Hi Jorge,
I would keep your protein intake between 1.5-2 grams per lb and you should be fine. If you are looking to put on some mass then both weight gainer and creatine are good.

Best of luck.

Posted on: Wed, 03/05/2014 - 23:50

can I drink whey protein during the day and then creatine in my pre workout and aminolytes during my workout and at final mass gainer protein or that's a lot of protein??
thank you

Posted on: Wed, 02/19/2014 - 02:58

Hi Lisa I'm 5ft 7 and 190 lbs I work 12 hour continental shifts lifting in a busy factory with 2 15 minute breaks so eating is short, what would you recommend foe filling but low cal food as trying to retain muscle?

Lisa H
Posted on: Sun, 02/23/2014 - 05:41

Hi Andy,

You might want to try a protein shake or some hard boiled eggs, depending on you caloric needs. You could also make your own protein bars ahead of time and take them to work.

Hope that helps you some.

Posted on: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 07:32

Hi Lisa,
This is a great article and helpful comments section. I'm working to 'reveal' my abs over the next few months with a high intensity cardio and weights programme. I've been working out at gyms for years doing a variety of fitness plans. I thought I knew quite a bit about eating cleaning, however the thing that stands out for me reading this article is the mention of fruit. I often have fruit in the morning on porriage oats and then as a snack between meals throughout the day. I love fruit, however I'm keen to reveal my abs and reduce my body fat. Should I stop eating fruit or at least restrict eating fruit to before/after workouts? I suppose it makes sense cutting fruit to workout times and it is a form of suger and will likely be burned off during any workout. I'd really appreciate your advice on this. Thank you! :-)

Posted on: Wed, 02/05/2014 - 06:46

Hi Stephen,

Thanks so much. I would limit the fruit to pre/post just as you mentioned. Give it a try and let me know,
Keep up the great work!

Posted on: Fri, 01/17/2014 - 06:41

Does this mean that if I stick to these foods only I can actually eat as much as I want to?
And what would be a good breakfast then? I have read that I should eat fruits for breakfast, but this is so contradictory. Please, please help. I really want to start eating clean but I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing.

Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2014 - 05:38

Hi Maja,

You will still need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight. But you can eat a lot more clean foods for far fewer calories and you won't be starving. My best advice for eating clean is stick to foods that are in their most natural state; avoid foods in packages which are usually highly processed. You can contact me directly at and I'd be happy to help you a little more.
Best of luck!

Posted on: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 04:35

Hi all,

i have skin fat. trying for six packs. Im 5'8 68kg

what diet should i follow.

i have to get rid of my loose skin. Please help me

Rizwan Ansari
Posted on: Sat, 12/14/2013 - 12:48

I have to use on whey protein is best for my bady

Posted on: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 10:44

Lisa, I want to know the kind of drink to take, because it looks as if almost all the drink has got sugar in them with the exception of alcoholic drinks, and you stated we should cut sugar out of our lives if we want to reduce belly fats........counting on your usual cooperation.


Lisa H
Posted on: Sun, 12/15/2013 - 05:47

If you are serious about getting rid of belly fat then water is your best bet. Don't forget it is the overall picture, one soft drink or fruit juice won't make or break you. Alcohol has empty calories and sugar too, so I would avoid it.

Posted on: Sat, 12/07/2013 - 15:00

Thanks a lot for sharing this piece of info to those of us who do not know.......God bless you.

Lisa H
Posted on: Mon, 12/09/2013 - 06:12

Hi Innocent,

Thanks so much. Glad you found it helpful.

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2013 - 09:18

hey guys i m 6ft.. my weight is 75 kg..
i have belly fat(not much a few) . shuld i start abs exercise or not :/ ?

Posted on: Thu, 10/17/2013 - 09:44

Does this mean no fruit ??? What do you snack on the. Between meals

Lisa H
Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 05:22

Hi Michelle,

You might want to try some nuts, a protein shake, or even a half of a turkey/chicken sandwich, depending on your caloric needs.

Posted on: Sun, 09/22/2013 - 18:15

Hi Lisa
Is it true that brown rice or any good complex carbs will prevent me from getting abs? I was looking at the eating diet of that one big black guy from Expendables. Super ripped hardly eats bread or carbs. I always thought complex carbs are your power fuel foods.

Lisa H
Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 14:43

Hi Christian,
You are right complex carbs are a great source of fuel! I would suggest listening to your body. If you are trying to achieve that 'look' consume your carbs around your workouts (pre/post), ditch any processed foods and eliminate sugar.

Don't forget you need to fuel your workouts. Ultimately, depending on your physique; you may have to pack on some more muscle/weight before you decide to shred to achieve your desired look.

Stay consistent with your diet, training and keep a food log. You'll get there!

Posted on: Wed, 07/31/2013 - 00:15

hello Lisa. i have a quick question .OK Ive been trying to study my abs (books, you-tube etc...) and i figured i should run more. get protein maybe omg3 maybe .im not sure what brand or if i should get it at all .im 5'5 120 and i want to get lean and have a six pack... i try n work out 4 days a week, my job is very active and i don't know what to eat every three hours. especially for breakfast . please help !!

Lisa H
Posted on: Fri, 08/02/2013 - 06:12

Hi Rico,
If you are 5'5 and 120 lbs I would focus on building some quality muscle. I think this will give you more of the look you are going for. Feel free to email me @, and I would be happy to help you.

Best of luck

Posted on: Sun, 06/02/2013 - 19:45

I have lost 20kg in 2 months by drinking orange juice and eating fruit every morning pasta midday a yogurt in the evening and vegetables and meat, chicken or fish at night, doing boxing 3 times a week.. fruit is the best that can shape your body i disagree

Posted on: Fri, 05/31/2013 - 17:14

Hi Lisa I just started working out, and I have high metabolism and pretty damn skinny.My goal is to get really cut define abs and muscles. I don't want big muscles I like my wieght the way it is, but I'm so confused on what I should eat. My diet consist of Ramen Noodles,Rice.bread,Fruits,spinach,chicken,fish and cookies which I recently stopped eating.
Is there any food you know for sure is good to eat before and after work out? and how often should I eat?Also I'm told when you eat you NEVER eat to try and get full, just small amounts through out the day. lately I've been only eating like an orange and some water which sucks but I'm scared to get bloated after working so hard in the gym.

Lisa H
Posted on: Sat, 06/01/2013 - 05:09

Hi Chris,
If you are really skinny you need to focus on eating more right now to gain muscle. Worry about the abs later. Focus on progression in the weight room. If you'd like you can email me and I'd be happy to help you a little more.
Best of luck to you

Posted on: Thu, 03/13/2014 - 22:06

Hey Lisa, my name is Josh and since I was 18 (I'm 21 now) I've been on a quest to acquire a 6 pack. I am 165 pounds at 6 feet. I'm not sure what my body fat % is but I'd say I have "washboard abs". I'm trying to get to a point where my abs are more visible. I just need some ideas on what to eat throughout the day. I like bagels and cream cheese, cereal, french bread, and lean pockets for breakfast (probably all awful for a lean diet), sandwichs for lunch (whole wheat bread with honey ham/salami and a little mayo/mustard, or peanut butter and banana), and I have run out of ideas for what to eat for dinner so I usually resort to eating out even though I know it's bad for me. I'd really appreciate any advice you could give me on dieting. I'm only 21 and I'm a college student so my budget for food isn't what I'd like it to be. Thanks so much!

Alison K
Posted on: Sat, 05/25/2013 - 02:54

Hi Lisa,
In the morning I generally have a side of 3 or 4 strawberries and a handful of raspberries with my breakfast. I then do my workout about an hour later and after that I have my protein shake blended with a banana and almond milk. Should I be cutting out the fruit for breakfast or is this ok because it is eaten an hour before I workout? I tend to need a bit more sugar than the average person otherwise I get a bit dizzy, so should I even bother worrying about it?

Lisa H
Posted on: Sat, 06/01/2013 - 05:03

Hi Alison K,
I would keep the fruit; it sounds like it is working for you. My best advice would be listen you your body. If it is working keep it!
Best of luck to you

Posted on: Thu, 05/16/2013 - 17:49

What type of milk I should I drink because I've been drinking 2% milk for years...Should I change milk?

Lisa H
Posted on: Tue, 05/21/2013 - 09:50

Hi Kareem,
I would keep your 2% use it for pre and post. You could try almond milk for the other times, if sugar is a concern.

Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2013 - 00:54

Hi Lisa, is it ok to have foods that are rich in proteins and fibrous carbohydrates as fully cooked in normal cooking oil?

Posted on: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 18:19


Posted on: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 18:17

Hi! I've been eating clean, I cut out sugar n only sprinkle a little of seasoning on my chicken breast for flavour but somedays my 4 pack pops out n somedays it don't, is it because I eat too much fruit? I eat 3 to 4 bananas, handful of grapes n 1 apple a day. For breakfast I eat 2 to 3 omelets n dinner 1 chicken breast n veg on the side. I jog for 1/2 an hour n do core exercise with no weights n if I have time I do the same routine at night. What am I doing wrong? I'm 46kg n lost 4kg in 2 wks n so result quickly but now my abs aren't popping out anymore, is it the fruit?
Thank you, Julie ,)

Lisa H
Posted on: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 04:38

Hi Julie,
I would eliminate some of the fruit and add in more clean foods. You might want to center the fruit around your exercise times. Also be sure to include some protein with the fruit. I would also suggest adding weight training to the program. I think this will give you more of the desired look you are going for. Make sure you eat enough clean calories. You are more than welcome to email me and I would be happy to help you a little more.

Best wishes

Posted on: Thu, 04/11/2013 - 10:51

Hi again and thank you a lot! i have another question im eating a kind of light marmalade that it claims to have 0 sugar on it, but it says that contains 65% of strawberry... i should be worried ? im eating this only with my breakfast and just a little with my whole wheat bread

Lisa H
Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2013 - 06:00

Hi Spike,
No problem. I wouldn't worry too much over that. You should be fine.

Brandon Dodd
Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 11:31

iv always had abs and iv always been really muscular. like im buff bro. i never worry about any of that stuff i just eat 7 times a day, and run every morning, and workout every evening. that is alot better than watching what you eat....

Posted on: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 14:04

Hi, sorry but this means that i shouldnt be eating fruits like apples and banana? i should only eat this as post workout training? thanks a lot!

Lisa H
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 08:59

Hi Spike,
If a six pack is your goal I would limit the fruit to pre and post workout.

Good luck to you,
Lisa H