Equally as important as a stellar 11 abs workout is learning how to eat an 11 abs diet.
Now when I say “diet” here, I don’t necessarily mean the calorie-restrictive diet that typically comes to most people’s minds. Rather, these eating tips will teach you what your individual body needs to get 11 line abs.
Most people understand you need to perform ab exercises to get abs – 11 abs, 6-pack abs, etc. But many miss the nutritional component.
There’s also no different way of eating for 11 abs vs 6-pack abs. The way your abs actually look when revealed comes down to the type of exercises you’re doing.
For example, if you just do crunches, you’ll likely develop your upper abdomen most. If you just do flutter kicks, you’ll likely develop your lower abdomen most. You need a good combination of movements, especially twisting oblique movements, to develop 11 abs.
The nutrition component is key, however, to finally revealing your abs. If you eat to achieve the 3 key components I outline next, you’ll be way more likely to reveal your abs.
Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!
How to Eat for 11 Abs
In order to show 11 abs, several factors have to align.
You need to 1) Have a low amount of abdominal fat, 2) Have enough abdominal muscle, and 3) Have no/low bloating.
Otherwise your abs just won’t show. Period.
Here’s a quick overview why each of these components are crucial:
1. Eating for fat loss
- Rationale: you won’t see abs if you have excess fat on your abdomen
- Fat loss = achieving a caloric deficit
2. Eating for muscle gain
- Rationale: you won’t build abs if you don’t fuel your body adequately for abdominal muscle growth
- Muscle gain = eating adequate protein (and in some cases, eating a caloric surplus)
3. Eating to reduce bloating
- Rationale: if you’re bloated, you won’t see your abs – even if they’re there!
- Reduce bloating = eating/avoiding foods, making simple lifestyle changes (in most cases)
1. 11 Abs Diet – Eating for Fat Loss
If you’re holding onto excess fat in your abdomen, then you have to lose overall weight to show your abs.
There’s no way around it – you can’t spot reduce fat in any one place. Not your thighs, not your arms, and not your waist/abdomen.
You can do this by achieving a caloric deficit, in which your body burns more calories than you eat. This means you can either exercise more or eat less (or both).
*Please Note: Not everyone needs to reduce fat to see abs. If you don’t have extra fat on your abdomen and want to learn about building up ab muscle and decreasing bloating, skip to points 2 and 3.
How to eat for a caloric deficit
While abs are constructed in the gym, ab are shown in the kitchen. At least I think that’s a more helpful way to think about it.
Here are some tips to achieve a caloric deficit and reduce your abdominal fat, showing the abs underneth.
- Eat natural foods in their least processed form (cuts out unhealthy additives and extra calories, and gives you the most vitamins/minerals/fiber/etc.)
- i.e. Baked potato instead of potato chips, steel cut oatmeal instead of granola bars
- Make veggies and protein the stars of your meals, rather than carbs
- Eat “slow” carbs, and in moderate amounts
- i.e. Brown rice, whole wheat bread, corn, oatmeal, potatoes, farro, tabbouleh, quinoa, etc.
- Reduce your current portion sizes
- Use a calorie calculator to learn what your body truly needs each day for maintenance, then eat 300-500 calories less
- Don’t over-restrict calories by eating very little (this not only zaps your energy and can be very unhealthy, it can also counteract your goal by causing your body to cling to any and all fat as your body goes into “survival mode”)
- Make small changes and give your body time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your abs won’t be either. (Okay, not quite the same. But you get the idea.)
2. 11 Abs Diet – Eating for Muscle Gain
With muscle gain, you have to make sure you eat ENOUGH.
11 abs ARE muscle. Gaining abdominal muscle doesn’t mean you’ll get bulky. It means you’ll actually have toned muscle to show.
First of all, focus on eating enough overall. If you don’t need to lose abdominal fat, then maybe you even need to eat a calorie surplus. It’s different for everyone, but it’s much harder to achieve muscle growth when you’re in a caloric deficit.
If you’re working on losing weight, though, don’t get discouraged! Focus on eating plenty of protein while in your caloric deficit and continue exercising your abs for muscle retention.
You CAN build abs while losing weight. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.
How much protein is enough?
The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight a day, or 0.36g / lb.
For example, a woman weighing 120 lbs would need about 43g of protein a day.
However, there is research to suggest eating more protein if you’re active and trying to build muscle.
Which is why athletes have higher recommended amounts:
Endurance athlete: 1.2-1.4g / kg OR 0.55-0.64g / lb
Weight lifter: 1.2-1.7g / kg OR 0.64-0.91g / lb
What does this mean for you?
If you’re committed to getting abs of any kind and are performing exercises regularly to achieve them, you may want to try eating more than the average protein recommendation.
This may end up being closer to 1g/kg bodyweight (0.45g/lb) or even up to 1.2g/kg (0.64g/lb) or higher if you exercise quite a bit.
There is such a thing as too much. Extra protein your body doesn’t need will get stored as fat – so don’t overdo it!
While I can’t give you an exact amount of protein that is right for you, the numbers above are a good starting place. You can monitor your progress and adjust from there, or see a Registered Dietitian to learn more about your specific needs.
RELATED POST: How to Use Protein Power – All Your Questions Answered!
3. 11 Abs Diet – Eating to Reduce Bloating
Bloating has a ton of causes.
While this certainly won’t be an exhaustive resource, my goal is to help you better control food-related bloating and reveal those 11 abs you’re working so hard to get!
Here are the basics to reduce bloating:
- Avoid excess salt
- Avoid foods with added sugars*** (A BIG ONE, often overlooked)
- Avoid raw, hard-to-digest vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts
- Avoid/limit beans
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid carbonated drinks, chewing gum, and eating too fast (swallowing air)
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid any specific foods that tend to bloat you (it’s different for everyone! For me, that includes hummus and bananas.)
Here’s a Registered Dietitian’s sample eating plan to decrease bloating the day before a big event:
With any eating plan to reduce bloating, read through it and replace any of your known bloating foods with others you tolerate well. Everyone is different – so no one eating plan (even that one) will reduce bloat for everyone.
For example, in the eating plan above, I would probably just eat scrambled eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast for breakfast (because I know I tolerate those well), and also swap the banana “nice” cream (bananas being a big time bloater for me) with a piece of fresh fruit, such as an orange.
Even better, try this plan out way before an event so you can make any tweaks you need.
I don’t know of anyone who never gets bloated. It’s near impossible to avoid all food triggers every single day, and sometimes we just want that dang donut haha.
But implementing these tips can give you some relief day-to-day AND help you have a low bloat day when you really want it (AKA a big event or a beach day).
RELATED POST: How to Reduce Bloating for a Big Event
How to Eat for Abs
Being able to see your 11 abs comes down to 3 things: having a low enough body fat percentage, having enough abdominal muscle, and having low enough bloating.
Optimizing these 3 things increases the likelihood you’ll get visible 11 abs!
Every person is different – so take into consideration what your individual body needs and implement small, sustainable changes to reach your goal.
If you need additional nutritional help in any of these areas, seek the help of a trained professional who can work with you one-on-one, such as a Registered Dietitian.
I hope you enjoyed these tips for how to eat an 11 abs diet!
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