Monday, March 10, 2008

Abdominal Health

The first step towards great abs is great abdominal health. In order to achieve the look you want, pay attention to what you are eating. Support the functions of your body by the foods you eat.

One of the many causes of tummy bloat is improper digestion. Many people are so busy that they do not allow time to pay attention to their diet. This means lots of grab-and-go meals that provide little or no dietary support. Not only are these foods generally high calorie and low in nutrition, they contain little fiber. It is hard for the body to digest this stuff, let alone get rid of it.

Eat plenty of fiber. Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A good rule of thumb to follow is the less processing and packaging, the better. Dark green vegetables and the skins of fruits such as plums, apples and pears provide a good source of fiber. Avoid white and bleached flour baked goods and choose whole grains instead. Whole grain oats, barley, and wheat also support healthy digestion. A sufficient amount of fiber in your diet helps your body cleanse the bowels and maintain a healthy digestive track.

Reduce, but don't eliminate, carbohydrates. Don't cut all carbohydrates out of your diet, but reduce your intake of simply carbohydrates like cookies, candy, and sweet drinks. Be mindful of eating complex carbohydrates and whole grains to balance your digestion and metabolism.

Lessen your fatty foods intake. Not all fat is created equal, but too much of any fat is bad. Saturated fats and partially hydrogenated oils are particularly nasty and create the highest impact. Having some natural oils and fat in your diet is healthy, but make sure you know the source. Read labels!

Another enemy of flatter abs is water retention. This often comes as a result of high sodium intake. Lessen sodium intake by paying attention to the salt you are eating. Sodium doesn't just come from the salt shaker, though. Many prepackaged foods and especially fast food contains high levels of sodium and preservatives. When the body has to process the extra sodium, this causes water retention and bloating.

Also make sure you drink lots of water. Staying fully hydrated aids the digestive process. This ensures that the body makes a quick job of absorbing what it can use and expelling what it does not. Drinking enough water also helps relieve the bloating from excess sodium intake by flushing sodium from the body.

On the issue of liquid intake, quit drinking soda. The calorie free kind won't help you lose weight either. The sugar in a can of regular soda delivers a calorie wallop and can cause weight gain. However, studies have shown that drinking a can of diet soda a day can increase the risk of being overweight by 41%. This won't do any wonders for your midsection.

If you want firm, flat abs, or fitness in any muscle area, you must eat to support muscle development. Without muscle tone, your belly is going to sag and bubble. Amino acids found in protein are essential for building and maintaining muscle health. Health officials recommend women consume 46 grams of protein a day and men 56. Protein in the diet comes from meats, eggs, grains, beans, and dairy products. Lean meats and vegetable proteins are the healthiest choices.

Remember though, eating the right foods only goes so far. Work out your abdominal muscles and get some aerobic activity. A sedentary lifestyle makes it extremely difficult to get the shape you want, no matter what you eat.

As the captain of his high school football team, Bill Mann was fit and lean. After letting himself go for years, he is back on the fitness track and losing his gut thanks to better nutrition and exercise. He reviews the best abs programs at

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