The 3 Keys to Eating for 11 Line Abs
Equally as important as a stellar 11 abs workout is learning how to eat an 11 abs diet.
Now when we say “diet” here, we 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.
The nutrition component is key to finally revealing your abs. If you eat to achieve the 3 key components we outline next, you’ll be way more likely to reveal your 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.
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
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 reduced 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 is shown in the kitchen.
Here are some tips to achieve a caloric deficit and reduce your abdominal fat, showing the abs underneath.
- 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, 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, but 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. 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)
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.
How much protein is enough?
The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight a day
For example, a woman weighing 54kg 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
Weight lifter: 1.2-1.7g / kg
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 body weight 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.
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)
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.)
We 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).
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.!