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diet plan for 6 pack abs step by step


Can you handle the truth about how to get a 6-pack?

It’s not about sit-ups, crunches, or special exercises for abdominal muscles. The best ab workouts won’t get your abs to show if your diet isn’t dialed in.

The truth is, getting visible abs is all about your nutrition plan, but I don’t mean some fad diet.

Many people over-complicate their nutrition whether they know it or not, and don’t do what they must to make their abs visible.

It’s not about sit-ups, crunches, or special exercises for abdominal muscles. The best ab workouts won’t get your abs to show if your diet isn’t dialed in.

They need a long-term sustainable nutrition plan of action to help them lose excess belly fat and keep it off long term.

Remember, restrictive fad diets are short-term and even if you can stick them out for a few months, your results disappear when you fall off the wagon.

Today I’m going to show you a simple 5-step plan on how to get your abs showing and growing.

I didn’t have abs when I started this very same 5-step plan I’m sharing with you now. I know this works because I did it myself. Simplicity and consistency are the key.


You already know what your problems are!

When I say “Cut the Crap” I mean to stop lying to yourself about your diet and cut out the junk food you’re eating for meals now.

Your six-pack diet can’t include junk food. There are things you’re going to have to sacrifice.

That’s probably not the answer you WANT to hear but it’s the answer that you NEED to hear.

Speaking from experience, I had the absolute worst diet on the planet. I once ate packaged and fast food for almost every meal. Donuts, cupcakes, cookies, you name it…all kinds of rich, sugary, processed, high calorie stuff.

I realized I had to cut it out immediately if I wanted to change. And so do you!

You have to start right now and get rid of whatever it is, whether it’s excess alcoholic beverages, fast food, you name it.

You know what it is already. If you have to ask if it’s excess, it’s probably excess.

Once the crap is out of your diet, the second step might shock you. Get ready.

stop eating junk food to get abs


Space your meals out through the day, eating smaller portions but getting sufficient calorie intake in the process.

If you eat more often, three things happen that allow you to start seeing that 6 pack faster.

  1. It forms a habit. It teaches you to view nutrition as fuel–like an athlete would–instead of a reward like you might have received when you did something good as a kid. That can’t happen anymore, guys.
  2. It stabilizes our blood sugar levels because we are eating more frequently. Forget about the implications of eating x number of grams of protein in the morning, or we divide it between breakfast and lunch, or about how anabolic it is. Those finer details aren’t going to matter much and there are studies that show that. It’s more about blood sugar’s effect on how you feel and achieving a consistent energy level without peaks and valleys.
  3. It helps control portion sizes. If you’re supposed to eat every 2½ to 3 hours you won’t be hungry enough to overeat, and it’s likely you won’t crave or indulge in the food you shouldn’t be eating.

eat more frequently to get a six pack


Once you’re eating a healthy diet, and you’re eating more often, go back and take a second pass through your diet, find the less obvious stuff that’s not so good for you and replace it with more nutrient-dense, whole foods.

When I transitioned my junk food diet to a healthy one, I started eating chicken and oatmeal more often and drinking more juice instead of soft drinks. I knew these were healthier choices.

That diet plan was definitely an improvement, but it fell short. I was eating fried chicken and packaged oatmeal that had sugar added to it. I had to take a closer look.

Side note: there’s some disagreement among nutrition specialists about whether white meat chicken–like chicken breast–is healthier and less fattening than the dark meat, like chicken thighs. Guys, it’s a matter of preference. If you like chicken thighs, eat chicken thighs. Consider removing the skin and excess fat around chicken breasts, thighs, or wings. (Chicken breast probably is the best choice for avoiding excess fat.)

Once I took a closer look at my diet, I educated myself to learn even better and healthier ways to eat nutritious foods like chicken. Once I started applying that knowledge, I could immediately see differences in gains. It encouraged me so I kept going.

The next thing I did was change the way I prepared my oatmeal. I traded the packs for whole grain slow-cooked oats with none of the added sugar or flavorings. I made more progress without sacrificing anything. I loved what I was eating!

And finally, I traded juice for plain water. Your muscles thrive on plenty of water. Other beverages aren’t a good substitute. Water is the crowned king of beverages if building lean muscle mass is your goal. The rule of thumb is 8 16-oz. glasses of water per day. If you’re going to occasionally drink a beverage that is not water, condition yourself to check the labels on beverages. Avoid drinks that have high fructose corn syrup, even if the label says the drink is “healthy”. Stay away from sugar-sweetened beverages, even sports drinks or pre-workout that contains high calorie sweeteners.

Refining the diet is where people who aren’t skilled at evaluating food choices need the most help. Again, keep it simple. Start by eliminating fried foods and food with added sugar.

make healthy swaps in your diet to get abs


Now that you’ve made two passes through your diet and are eating more often, you should then start eating more good nutrient-dense, whole foods.

You’re going to want to pack on some muscle, not just focus only on a six pack.

The goal is to get abs while building lean muscle. To do that, you’re going to have to eat nutritious foods that support muscle growth.

Take your healthy meals and make them healthier meals.

Lean protein found in foods like fish and leaner cuts of steak are great, but it goes beyond protein intake. You need balance. Don’t forget the nutrients found in vegetables like beans and broccoli.

By this point, you’ve locked in on the food you should be eating while selecting the proper nutrition to fuel your hard resistance training and support your new muscle growth.

One note of caution. Frequently, when guys make this type of radical change to their eating style, they consume fewer calories than before because the foods they removed from their diet were loaded with fat, sugar, and lots of extra calories. Don’t get yourself into a big calorie deficit that sacrifices muscle growth just to make your abs visible. In other words, make sure you’re eating enough!

eat healthier foods to get abs


Consistency for life–not just a few days–is the key to reaching your goals.

I travel a lot for my job and so I supplement my diet to stay consistent.

Traveling means I might not be within access to all the proper nutrition that I need at any given time. If I have my supplements available, I can get what my body needs right then and there, in a very convenient, travel-friendly way.

Even if you’re not a traveling professional, supplements are something you can have on-hand so you can be confident you’re getting the proper nutrients, getting protein to your muscles, and not needing to stress out about sabotaging the nutritious diet program you’ve started.

We also have the added benefit of supplementation providing us with the ability to take our bodies to the next level by delivering things like creatine.

Creatine is a well-researched ergogenic supplement that’s shown to have the muscle-building benefits of high-protein foods like steak.

But we can’t eat steak every single day, even if it’s in the budget. Steak is great but red meat has been shown to increase cardiovascular disease risks (such as elevated triglyceride levels) if not eaten in moderation. Study after study has demonstrated this.

Supplementation is an answer unless you’re sitting at 30-40% excess body fat. If you are, forget about the supplements for right now, and focus on nutrition first.

So, repeating for emphasis, start with step one: get rid of the junk foods from your diet, even if those foods make you happy. Eating nutrient-dense, whole foods is the most important thing…it’s Step 1 for a reason.

Combining a well-balanced diet with exercise can lead to excess body fat loss and can help remedy a number of health conditions.

Follow this simple 5 step plan, and don’t be fooled by how simple it is. Getting in shape doesn’t need to be complicated.

add a protein supplement to get abs

Your rate of weight loss–the number of pounds per week you drop–will depend on how quickly your body responds to these changes and how much you commit to the plan. Some of it also depends on your training, and strength training is the way to go because muscle burns fat even while you’re at rest.

Use the mirror and how your clothes fit as your primary gauges of progress.

It’s not hard. It just takes desire and dedication to make the necessary changes.

If you are looking for a step-by-step workout and meal plan that will get rid of belly fat, get you more ripped than ever and help you to build athletic muscle, check out our ATHLEAN-X programs to find one that best matches your current goals.


  1. A Six-Pack Diet doesn’t have to be complicated. You only need to follow 5 simple steps for your abs diet.
  2. Step 1. Cut the junk food and sugary beverages out of your diet forever, replacing them with nutritious food. Drink plenty of water and eliminate as many other beverages as possible, including alcoholic beverages, sugar sweetened beverages, and even diet soda. Be picky about sports drinks too. They often contain added sugar.
  3. Step 2. Eat more often so that you can maintain your energy, blood sugar levels, and control portion sizes.
  4. Step 3. Take a second look at your diet and challenge “how” you’re eating your new good food choices. Change the way you prepare them so that they’re even healthier.
  5. Step 4. Eat more of the nutritious foods you should be eating so that you’re fueling muscle growth and supporting your weight training.
  6. Step 5. Keep supplements handy to ensure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.
  7. Consistency is key. I don’t subscribe to fad diet trends which carry risk of weight gain once discontinued.
  8. Use this Six-Pack Diet as a way to develop a healthy relationship with food so you can achieve long-term weight management.


There’s no such thing as an “Abs Diet” or a “Six-Pack Diet”. You do however need a healthy diet in order to lose abdominal fat and get your abs to show. By “healthy”, I mean a balanced diet of lean proteins like fish or leaner cuts of steak or chicken breasts, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, legumes like black beans and kidney beans, and starchy carb sources like brown rice. Fruit is great also of course.

Pay attention to how you prepare your foods, too. Be very stingy with added fats like butter.

You also need to drink plenty of water and eliminate sugary beverages.

Eat more meals of smaller portion size spaced evenly throughout the day. Keep supplements handy if you travel and don’t have ready access to your usual dietary choices.

You don’t need a “strict” diet for abs as much as you need a healthy diet that you follow strictly. You have lots of options in your food selections. You just need to make good choices and stick to those, and eliminate junk foods.

Stay away from fad diet trends, like If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).

Diet is even more important for abs than abdominal exercises. Getting 6-pack abs requires getting rid of the excess body fat that covers them. All the abdominal exercises in the world won’t make a six pack visible if your diet isn’t in check. If your midsection is lean enough, you’ll be able to see your abs.

To make sure your metabolism stays running strong and you don't experience any energy highs or lows, you should eat 3-6 meals per day for abs.  You'll also want to incorporate core strengthening exercises into your exercise regime so that you can build abdominal muscle. Unlike other muscles in the body, you can train the abs as many as 5-6 times per week because they are involved in so many of your daily movements. 

If your goal is to get abs you'll have to focus on two things: healthy nutrition and building the abdominal muscles. Nutrition is particularly important because even if you have strong abs, if there is a layer of fat covering them, they won't be visible. If you need to achieve a lot of weight loss, consuming healthy foods and creating a daily food plan should be your main focus because this is what will help most with reduction of fat throughout the body. It's important to note that the concept of spot reduction is totally false - you cannot burn belly fat with abdominal exercises.  To achieve fat loss in the belly, you'll need to lose fat throughout the entire body. Including strength training for the abs in your exercise plan is also important, as is getting regular exercise in the form of total body resistance training and high-intensity cardiovascular training. 

If you are trying to build six pack abs, it's ok to eat some white rice because your body does need carbohydrates to function.  Brown rice or other whole grains may be a better high-fiber foods for a healthy lifestyle because they are complex carbohydrates and they take a bit longer to digest (thereby helping stabilize insulin levels) and contain nutrients and health benefits that white rice lacks.

If one of your fitness goals is having six pack abs, you'll want to avoid overeating simple carbohydrates and avoid sugary drinks altogether. It's also important to be sure that you're meeting your daily protein requirements for muscle growth and that you include exercises to train the abdominal region in your exercise plan. 

If you are not sensitive to dairy, fat-free or low-fat milk is a great food for abs because it will help you to meet your protein requirements for muscle growth. In fact, many people use protein powder with dairy as a source of protein in their diets. If you are striving for six-pack abs you'll want to be sure that you adopt a nutrition plan full of healthy foods and that you incorporate regular exercise for the abdominal region into your training plan. 

Unless you are sensitive to dairy, it's not necessary to avoid dairy for abs. In fact, most people trying to build muscle in their abs and throughout the body may consume a daily protein smoothie made with protein powder mixed with water or fat-free or low-fat milk to help with muscle growth. Low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt are also great ways to meet your protein requirements. 

Chicken is one of the best sources of protein for muscle growth, so it is a good food for your abs. For example, chicken breast contains 9 grams of protein per ounce, so it it's a great food to help you meet your daily protein requirements. Other lean sources of protein include fish, egg whites, and dairy.

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Jeff Cavaliere Headshot

Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS

Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.

Read more about Jeff Cavaliere by clicking here

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