A lot can happen in 6 minutes. It’s enough time to make or break a job interview, have great sex, or listen to all of Quiet Riot’s greatest hits.
And in 6 minutes, you can find your six-pack abs.
Not with a CAT scan or an endoscope or a self-powered liposuction machine, but with an intelligent, well-balanced, and (most of all) easy eating plan made up of great-tasting foods. Not a fad diet. And no weird vacuum-sealed meals that have to be special-delivered to your home by the food police. Just sensible food that’s fast and easy — and isn’t pushed through your car window by a guy in a paper hat.
Abs, after all, aren’t made in the gym — they’re made in the kitchen. What you put into your mouth is far more important than what you put into your workout. For example, in an analysis of 33 clinical trials, Brazilian researchers determined that diet controls about 75 percent of weight loss. Of course, that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t an important part of the fat-burning formula. But if you want the fastest results, a smart eating plan is the foundation of your gut-busting program.
So that’s why we’re introducing the Abs Diet Arsenal: easy guidelines that can make you lean for life. They’re based on my book The Abs Diet, which has guided more than a million people in making permanent changes in their food intake and fat output.
Too many diets are about rules and deprivation. And let’s face it: Once you’re told you can’t have something, don’t you just want it more? So I want you to stop thinking you have rules. I simply want you to rethink the way you eat. Follow the guidelines below and you’ll feel what it’s like to eat right, stay satisfied, and fuel your body with high-octane energy.
Because I believe abs, beer, and Star Wars movies aren’t the only good things that come in sixes, I’ve developed six guidelines for the Abs Diet. Eat this way and you’ll be able to ditch the old rules — as well as your old body.
Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Eat six times a day.
Old diet systems ensure that you stay hungry by forcing you to eat a daily calorie count that’s lower than Jessica Simpson’s SAT scores. I don’t want you hungry — I want you full. When you’re full, you won’t be as tempted (or likely) to steamroll your way through pizza boxes.
And the way you’ll get full is by eating six times a day, choosing from the nutritional heroes you’ll meet below. By eating every few hours, you’ll keep your metabolism revved and ensure overall stomach satisfaction. The great thing about the Abs Diet powerfoods is that, because they’re high in nutrients, protein, healthy fats, and fiber, they make it almost impossible to overeat. Proper nutrition will leave you feeling satiated all day long.
How to do it: Eat three standard meals and three smaller snacks. For example:
8 a.m. BREAKFAST
11 a.m. SNACK
1 p.m. LUNCH
4 p.m. SNACK
6 p.m. DINNER
9 p.m. SNACK
Go on to the next page to learn about the 12 types of foods you should eat…
Deprive yourself of specific foods.
Indulge in specific foods — the Abs Diet Power 12.
Most diets treat you as if you’re the kid and they’re the parent: No this, no that, no fruit, no bread, no meat, no potatoes, no sugar, no, no, no, no. And you end up hearing “no” more often than the science-club president 3 weeks before the prom. Yes, it’s true that there are foods and substances so toxic that you should stiff-arm them like Reggie Bush shaking off a tackle. But there’s an enormous world of wonderful foods out there just waiting for you. And it’s not all veggies and tofu; the preferred foods are as diverse in taste as in nutritional power. How convenient that they line up next to the letters in ABS DIET POWER:
A Almonds (and other nuts)
B Beans (and other legumes)
S Spinach (and other green vegetables)
I Instant oatmeal
T Turkey (and other lean meats)
P Peanut butter
O Olive oil
W Whole grains (breads and cereals)
E Extra-protein powder (whey)
R Raspberries (and other berries)
Adopt the Abs Diet Power 12. Eat the Abs Diet Power 12. Enjoy the Abs Diet Power 12. But, most of all, live longer and better with the Abs Diet Power 12.
How to do it: Make sure that every meal includes at least two foods from the powerfoods list, but try to put together meals in which every food is a powerfood. The more you use the foods, the better your results. The recipes we include here will help.
No dessert for you!
Have dessert every day!
In fact, I insist. Let’s face it: There’s a basic human need for sweets. In our scavenger days, our tastebuds encouraged us to seek out berries and other fruits, so we’d get all the vitamins and minerals we needed. Today, we still crave sweets, and to completely eliminate them goes against human nature and guarantees only one thing — dietary failure.
So how can you fulfill your cravings for sweets but not blow a week’s worth of calories on a chain-restaurant cake that’s the size of an ottoman? With a powerful and sweet Abs Diet smoothie, combining as many of the powerfoods as you can — raspberries, oatmeal, peanut butter, whey powder, and milk, for instance. (Go to MensHealth.com/absdiet/ for recipes.) In each drink, you can have the taste of chocolate (whey powder comes in lots of flavors) and berries — without the guilt that typically comes from desserts. Smoothies also take up stomach space and help you avoid the blood-sugar highs and lows associated with desserts filled with simple sugars.
How to do it: Use smoothies as snacks or replacement meals.
Go on to the next page to find out how much you can eat and when you can cheat…
Count every calorie, weigh every portion, hoard points, eat meals in some sort of “zone.”
Have a life.
Sure, some of us really are rocket scientists. We track calories and calculate our optimum payload and energy expenditure. That’s fine if it works for you. But you know what? Most of us have our hands so full with work, kids, and CSI reruns that we don’t have time to obsess over food. So don’t. Eat the Power 12 and calories and fat take care of themselves.
How to do it: Eat meals with a balance of nutrients — making sure to include stomach satisfying high-fiber whole grains, good fats, and protein. Let your foods do the counting.
It’s the food, stupid.
It’s the drink, stupid.
Your food intake can be as healthy and as disciplined as a monk’s, and you can still be consuming too many calories. Between high-sugar OJ, high-fat whole milk, high-calorie sports drinks, and higher-calorie beer, it’s scary how many unhealthy fats and carbohydrates we guzzle. For that reason, I want you to really examine what you drink along with and between meals.
How to do it: Drink water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and smoothies. Coffee and tea are okay, too. But avoid whole-fat dairy products and high-sugar fruit juices. Alcohol? Best to limit yourself to two or three drinks a week, because you don’t need the extra calories. And for goodness’ sake, stop with the soda. Our constantly increasing soda consumption (50 gallons per person per year!) may well be the biggest reason for the obesity epidemic.
Cheat like Jude Law at a nanny convention.
Diets used to be like marriages: If you strayed from the rules, you were done. You cheated? Forget it. Diet’s over. But I want you to cheat (on the diet, that is). One meal a week, eat anything you want. Deprivation leads to resentment, which leads to a secret affair with both Ben and Jerry. But if you cut loose once a week, you’ll feel in control for the other 41 meals and snacks — eating healthy will be your choice, not your chore.
How to do it: Time your cheat meal to coincide with a party, a poker game, or your office happy hour. Just don’t be surprised if, when your body adjusts to the powerfoods, you don’t feel the need to cut loose. This is a diet that works with you, not against you.
Okay, now that you’ve had a taste of the philosophy behind the Abs Diet, let’s eat. In the pages that follow, you’ll find a day of great eating that’s packed with powerfoods. Try these recipes over the next week and you’ll understand the real benefit of the Abs Diet: You don’t have to choose between eating well and eating right. And a six-pack comes with every meal.
1 c cooked microwavable brown rice, such as Uncle Ben’s
1⁄3 c red beans
1 tsp chopped cilantro
1 egg, fried
1 Tbsp shredded low-fat Mexican-blend cheese
Mix together the microwaved rice and the beans and top with the cilantro, egg, and cheese. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 379 calories, 16 grams (g) protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 7 g fiber, 234 milligrams (mg) sodium
The Ultimate Power Breakfast
1 c low-fat milk
3⁄4 c oatmeal
1⁄2 c mixed berries
1 Tbsp chopped pecans or almonds
1 tsp vanilla whey-protein powder
1 tsp ground flaxseed
1⁄2 banana, sliced
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
In a microwavable bowl, mix the egg well, then add the next six ingredients and nuke for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and let the mixture cool for a minute or two. Top with the sliced banana and yogurt. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 590 calories, 30 g protein, 80 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat (4 g saturated), 12 g fiber, 193 mg sodium
PACK YOUR SNACKS
Snacks that are 200 calories and under
Stick of string cheese (80)
Skippy brand squeeze stick of peanut butter (140)
5 c light microwave popcorn sprinkled with hot sauce and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese (150)
6 strawberries dipped in yogurt, drizzled with chocolate sauce (150)
Canned tuna with balsamic vinegar on whole-grain crackers (175)
1 c reduced-sodium cottage cheese with fresh peaches and cinnamon (200)
Two handfuls of olives (200)
1 c blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries with 6 oz light yogurt and 1 Tbsp low-fat granola (200)
Snacks that are 400 calories and under
One egg on a whole-grain English muffin with melted cheese (250)
Clif bar (250)
Peanut butter and jelly on a whole-grain English muffin (300)
Oatmeal with milk, brown sugar, walnuts, and any fresh or dried fruit (300)
Slice of whole-grain bread topped with peanut butter and banana (300)
1⁄2 c hummus with roasted vegetables (400)
On a Roll
3⁄4 c diced precooked chicken
2 Tbsp diced onion
2 Tbsp feta-cheese crumbles
1 handful romaine lettuce, chopped
1 large whole-wheat tortilla
Salsa for dipping
Arrange the chicken, onion, cheese, and lettuce down the center of the tortilla.
Roll it tightly, then cut it in half.
Grill the rolls seam-side down for 2 to 3 minutes per side, on a nonstick skillet heated to medium. Serve with salsa. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 397 calories, 56 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 3 g fiber, 493 mg sodium
(People for the Intelligent Treatment of Abdominals)
1 Tbsp barbecue sauce
1⁄2 c chopped precooked chicken
1 whole-wheat pita
1 c chopped romaine lettuce
2 Tbsp diced cucumber
1 Tbsp low-fat ranch dressing
In a microwavable dish, stir together the barbecue sauce and chicken. Microwave for 30 seconds or until hot. Stuff the chicken into each pita half.
In a bowl, toss the lettuce and cucumber with the dressing, and stuff it all into the pita. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 421 calories, 40 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 6 g fiber, 734 mg sodium
3 c mixed greens
2 slices deli smoked-turkey slices, chopped
1⁄2 small Granny Smith apple, chopped
2 Tbsp grated carrot
1 Tbsp chopped pecans
11⁄2 Tbsp Craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
1 Tbsp blue-cheese crumbles
Toss it all together and add dressing made by mixing 11⁄2 tsp olive oil and 1Tbsp balsamic vinegar. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 296 calories, 15 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 7 g fiber, 590 mg sodium
Shrimp to Nuts
2 tsp peanut oil
1⁄4 tsp red-pepper flakes
1⁄2 c French-style green beans
1⁄3 c matchstick carrots
1⁄4 c whole, unsalted roasted cashews
2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp orange juice
1⁄4 tsp orange zest
11⁄2 c medium frozen shrimp, defrosted, with tails removed
Combine the oil and red pepper in a medium-hot skillet. Add everything but the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stir-ring frequently. Finally, toss in the shrimp and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Serve over brown rice. Makes 2 servings
Per serving: 332 calories, 39 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 578 mg sodium
1⁄4 c barbecue sauce
1 ready-made flatbread
1⁄4 c canned diced tomatoes with chili peppers and onions, well drained
3⁄4 c precooked mesquite-flavored chicken
2 Tbsp sliced scallion
1 tsp diced cilantro
3 Tbsp grated, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
Spread the barbecue sauce on the flatbread. Top with the tomatoes, chicken, scallion, cilan-tro, and mozzarella. Bake at 375°F for 6 min-utes. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 411 calories, 39 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 3 g fiber, 1,059 mg sodium
1⁄2 c reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1⁄2 c low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tsp chocolate whey-protein powder
1 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 Tbsp chopped pecans
Mix the ricotta, yogurt, protein powder, syrup, and nuts until well blend- ed. Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 336 calories, 20 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat (4 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 209 mg sodium
4 Popsicle sticks
2 bananas, peeled and cut in half
1⁄2 c chocolate sauce (the kind that forms a shell)
4 Tbsp finely chopped unsalted peanuts
Insert a Popsicle stick into the cut end of each banana piece. Pour chocolate sauce over the bananas until they’re completely coated, then roll the chocolate-coated bananas in the peanuts. Freeze. Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 318 calories, 4 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat (9 g saturated), 4 g fiber, 21 mg sodium
Reprinted from The Abs Diet 6-Minute Meals for 6-Pack Abs! by David Zinczenko with Ted Spiker.
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