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The Six Pack Abs Shopping List

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six pack abs shopping list

Every journey requires the right set of tools to be successful. In the case of stellar six pack abs, that rendezvous starts and ends with one simple thing – the food you stuff down your esophagus day-in and day-out.

In the past we’ve provided an extensive spectrum of killer ab exercises, intense workout plans, and other fitness-focused strategies to shrink your belly and carve out the inner crevices and undulations of your abs to-be. That’s all incredibly important, but the reality of summoning a svelte midsection is that the exercises you do will never matter if your diet isn’t in place to begin with.

Unless you’re a metabolic savant, diet governs all else — no questions asked.

In prep for summer I’ll be highlighting a number of nutritional and dietary tactics to help incinerate the blubber plastering your abs from plain sight — step #1, your Six Pack Abs Shopping List. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to eat lean without the right tools at your disposal. Overhaul your kitchen with this abs-inspired shopping list — broken down into fat, protein, carbs, and drinks/condiments/spices — and use it as a blueprint to stock your fridge and populate your pantry. A few things to note:

  • For the sake of my sanity and to keep this from becoming ridiculously unmanageable, I’ve tried to keep this list as simple and straightforward as possible, covering mainly foods that you’d find in typical, everyday supermarkets.
  • I’ve kept it as brand agnostic as possible, mainly listing food items in generic terms (e.g. oatmeal, as opposed to recommending Quaker Oats). For certain items I’ve included brand names, if I feel extremely strong about a specific product or if the category is highly variable (e.g. cereal).
  • Inevitably this will NOT include every single food, brand, or product on earth. This may or may not be on purpose – certain foods, like 2% milk or wheat bread – were purposefully excluded because they don’t fall into the “Six Pack Picks” or “Belly Busters” category. They’re somewhere in the grey area of products that won’t derail your diet, but that I don’t recommend eating on an everyday basis.
  • Some foods overlap. Salmon & nuts are healthy fats, but they’re also fantastic protein sources.

If you have a question about a specific product or brand that’s NOT on the list, please drop a question in the comments and I’ll absolutely weigh in on where it falls.

Otherwise, give it a read, print out a copy, clip it up on your fridge, and start revamping your kitchen ASAP (print it out on page 4).



Fats


The Six Pack Abs Shopping List, list of healthy fats

The Six Pack Abs Shopping List – Fats

 

Six Pack Picks

  • Natural peanut butter (e.g. Naturally More, Earth Balance)
  • Almond butter (e.g. Justin’s)
  • Coconut peanut butter (e.g. Earth Balance)
  • Powdered peanut butter (e.g. PB2)
  • Almonds (low sodium)
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower seeds (low sodium)
  • Mixed nuts (low sodium)
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Guacamole
  • Flax seeds
  • Flax oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Olive Oil/EVOO
  • Virgin coconut oil
  • Grass fed butter (e.g. Kerrygold)
  • Olives
  • Tahini
  • Natural soft cheese (goat, brie, feta)
  • Almond milk
  • Flax milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Unsweetened coconut
  • Nut bars (e.g. LarabarsKIND)
  • Fish Oil & Omega-3’s (e.g. Optimum Nutrition, NOW, MRM)
Belly Busters

  • JIF, Skippy, & other artificial peanut butter
  • Nutella (sadly)
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Half & half
  • Coffee creamer
  • Sour cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Processed cheese (e.g. squeezy cheese)
  • Sweetened coconut
  • High sodium nuts


Pages: Fats | Protein | Carbs | Drinks & Condiments

 

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Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Manolo223

    love the six packs here but how long will it take to get them?

  • Sarahjo86

    So what kind of dressing should i use on my salads?

    • There’s no reason why salads need dressing but EVOO, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, light italian dressing, or even hummus work in that sense. The idea that dressing and salad are one thing is completely untrue – separate them out.

      Try mixing different veggies, proteins, grains, nuts, seeds, etc. to add flavor in lieu of high-cal, processed dressings.

      As an example you could have grilled chicken, tomatoes, beans, whole wheat pasta/quinoa, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar over a bed of spinach for a complete, ridiculously healthy meal.

    • XxPerksxX

      I like to use salsa as a “dressing” on my salads. I don’t like a “dry” salad, so this adds just enough liquid to the leaves that it reminds me of dressing.

  • Vanessa

    it appears that the veggies and fruit “page” link is missing, but it is included in the printable shopping list. Just an FYI

  • Laurie

    How about olive oil mayonnaise?

    • Nope, it’s still highly processed.

    • Trapgirl

      Make your own Mayo… Olive oil, vinegar, eggs… Enough to use for one meal only

  • Sylvia

    print

  • John

    Why are Raisins and Dried Fruit Belly buster????!!!!

    • When fruit is dehydrated it loses most of its water content (obviously), which saps the majority of its nutrients.

      Ends up being really high in sugar without much nutritional value.

  • Kimmy Pilz

    Why are rice cakes bad? I eat them with peanut butter, banana, and cinnamon before I workout. It’s the only thing that doesn’t upset my stomach

    • Hey Kimmy — if they’re plain/unsalted/lightly salted, they’re completely fine. Keep doing what you’re doing, that’s a really nice alternative to bread.

      The majority, though, are loaded with sugar and artificial, processed ingredients (think buttered, caramel, chocolate, white cheddar etc.). Stay away from anything flavored.

      I’ve updated the article to make it more specific.

  • B

    What do you think about Balsamic Vinagrette; it’s basically the only salad dressing I do.

    • Completely fine with that. Try to make it yourself, though; a lot of packaged brands have a ton of additives that aren’t great to eat on a recurring basis.

  • Mike D’Angelo

    soo i’m starting to get a bit frustrated with my diet. i drink about 90 oz of water a day, 3 eggs post, i broil an entire bag of chicken tenders from trader joes and season it lightly with a low sugar sauce and i also eat lots of carrots and dark greens and maybe 1 apple and an orange. also i eat cashews throughout the day. my workouts are pretty intense yet i’m not really seeing any change in dropping body fat.

  • Daniel

    Freaking liar! I recently stopped drinking 2% milk and switched to whole milk and I lost 4 pounds this past month! Obviously this guy doesn’t know that saturated fat is actually GOOD for you. UGH pisses me off.. >.>

    • Really, because I’m a huge proponent of coconut oil and CLA. You’re also not commenting on triglycerides, cholesterol, and other health metrics — weight doesn’t correlate 1-to-1 with health.

      The bigger point here, though, is that you’re connecting whole milk consumption with weight-loss. That’s simply not true, and I wouldn’t make that conclusion about ANY food on its own. It’s misleading and exaggerated. Sure, you personally might’ve had some success with it in your diet (great job, by the way), but in general I wouldn’t recommend that anyone chug whole milk — it’s calorically dense in a big way, and for anyone who’s trying to slash weight, a low efficiency use of calories.

      Back to your saturated fat point — research on the effects of saturated fat from animal products (meat and dairy) is highly mixed. In small doses it’s fine and won’t hurt your health, but I’m absolutely not comfortable recommending that anyone consume it on a regular basis.

  • Britt

    Hi, I’m wondering what you think of soy milk in place of cows milk? I love Sanitarium’s So Good Vanilla Bliss soy milk but I don’t know if it’s particularly good for me or my not quite abs. Thank you!

    • I personally won’t drink soy milk (and wouldn’t recommend it) because processed soy is typically GMO and can have a bunch of negative effects on the body in high doses. Plus I hate the taste.

      I like almond milk and coconut milk as my first choices, skim/1% would be right behind that (I’m also lactose intolerant so I try to stay away from dairy if possible),

      My diet is loaded with protein, so I’m not dependent on milk for it. If you’re struggling to fit enough protein in, though, cow’s milk might be your best bet.

  • Tobias

    Hi, I am curious about a couple of items I eat. Mainly Nestles bitesize shredded wheat I have a 40g bowl in a morning with 100ml of skimmed milk and 15g of sultanas, also a slice of wholemeal toast with 3-4 eggs. Is the slice of toast and shredded wheat hindering my performance? I also have a probake cookie (50% protein cookie) later on in the day if this affect anything. I can give a full breakdown of my daily intake if needed but i am generally on about 1800 calories per day and fairly active with sport etc.

  • Jason

    My question is about protein bars. To Clif protein bars not make the cut? I figured you would have those on the list. Can you please explain why they are not? Thank you.

  • Michael

    Canned veggies bad???

    • Try not to, canning depletes a bunch of the nutrients and can add a ton of chemicals (like BPA). Definitely go with fresh veggie as often as possible.

  • Harry Taylor

    Why are dried fruits like raisins bad for you?

    • Drying any fruit depletes the majority of the nutrients; effectively they turn into sugar bombs. They’re still moderately healthy, but I wouldn’t reco chugging a box regularly; unless it’s after a workout. Go with whole fruit whenever you can.

  • Ducky

    Out of curiosity, how about having small amounts of low fat tzatziki as a veggie dip?

  • confute

    I really liked this article until I read the protein list; it’s sort of garbage! Pork? Really? I’m not against eating meat by any means, but I have read time and again that vegetable-based protein sources are not only just as protein-rich as animal products but also easier to break down and more vitamin/mineral/antioxidant rich! As a result I treat meat and other animal products as delicacies rather than dietary staples. I see you included things such as lentils in the vegetable list but why the lack of representation of other protein sources?

    • It was just a way of segmenting foods into logical groups, based on predominant classification. That’s not to say that some veggies aren’t a great source of protein, though. There’s always some crossover.

      You could make the same case for nuts or cheese.

      Read this article for a full breakdown of the top protein sources, in order. It has everything you’re likely looking for. http://www.leanitup.com/protein-up-heres-the-big-list-of-top-protein-sources-incl-the-best-vegetarian-options/

    • kjonyou

      Actually, some cuts of pork are very low in fat, like Pork Tenderloin. Also, its not that simple to eat vegetables to replace meat protein. Meat, Chicken, Fish are Complete Protein sources. Vegetables also contain some protein but they are considered Incomplete Proteins.

      • Gus

        Soy is actually considered a complete protein aswell! It’s got all the essential amino acids. It is also possible to replace meat by complementing the protein from nuts, legumes, vegetables and whole grains. To put it simply, what one group lacks in essential amino acids, the other has.

  • Brandon

    I want to follow this shopping list to some degree just to lean up. I don’t have unrealistic expectations, I will probably eat this way 4-5 days per week. However, do you have any meal plans or recipes based off of this shopping list? I’m starving! Haha.

  • SixPackAttack

    A lot of bro-science in this article. IIFYM is the way to go, look it up. Granted you still be eating generally healthy foods but it allows more leniency and enjoyment while still getting that six pack (I have one and before you ask no I am not naturally lean. I was chubby all my teen years)

    • I’m starting to think that ANYTHING that doesn’t support XYZ person’s dietary “philosophy” defaults to being labeled as “broscience.”

      I’m not quite sure how/why a breakdown of foods by macro —of which IIFYM is predicated on — would fall into that bucket.

      Secondly, the point of the entire article is to eliminate the need for calorie counting or any other complicated frameworks. No doubt IIFYM works, but IMO it’s overly complicated and tedious, and completely unnecessary for most people that are simply looking to eat healthier.

      Above all else, I’m concerned with helping people make BETTER, higher-quality food choices in the easiest way possible. Most people don’t even know how to do that — IIFYM sits on that foundation. Without it, any dietary philosophy crumbles.

  • BTBC0147

    no one has ever been able to prove you can eat more then your bodies maintenance and NOT gain weight…

    • Read up on Set Point Theory.

      • BTBC0147

        that does not change anything? I challenged Johnny Bowen, Jonathon Bailor and many others..NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO PROVE U CAN EAT MORE CALORIES FROM ANY SOURCE ABOVE MAINTENANCE AND NOT GAIN WEIGHT…I CHALLENGE ANYONE TO PROVE IT..

  • Sanne

    green melon OK?

  • soulfit

    What about mozzarella?

    • Don’t binge on cheese or overdo it, but I’m fine with 1 serving a day. Obviously pick something natural and fresh; not processed.

  • Bala

    Hey is canned salmon bad?

    • Like canned tuna, it’s a great (inexpensive) source of protein + healthy fats. If you can, try to go fresh whenever possible though. Other than that, eat away!

  • Steve

    How often should i be eating 93% lean beef(red meat)? And is it a good PWOM?

    • PWOM = post workout meal?

      I’d say a few times per week, max.

  • Agave Necter may not spike up your glucose levels; however, it’s packed with a lot of fructose.

    [The harmful effects of sugar have very little to do with the glycemic index and everything to do with the large amount of fructose… and Agave is high in fructose.

    Fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin in the short term, but when consumed in high amounts it leads to insulin resistance … a long-term effect that will chronically elevate blood sugar and insulin levels (12 , 13 ).

    Having blood sugars go up for a short time isn’t that bad, but having them chronically elevated (high all the time) is a recipe for disaster.

    For this reason… the fructose content of sugar is a much bigger problem than its glycemic index. Regular sugar is about 50% fructose, while Agave is about 70-90% fructose.]

    Source: http://authoritynutrition.com/6-healthy-sugars-that-can-kill-you/

    ><"

    • The fructose/sugar debate is highly questionable, and frankly really inconclusive, IMO. Key phrase there though: “in high amounts.” ALL sugar — regardless of the variety — is unhealthy and anti-lean in large quantities. That goes for whole fruit, too.

      I’d agree with you though that agave shouldn’t be considered a health food by any means. It falls under that faux health food umbrella with things like organic cookies/chips + Vitamin Water.

      I’ve actually reevaluated its position and removed it from the list.

      • Agave seemed to have a lot of potential back then. You are definitely right though; Even fruit (especially the ones packed with fructose) should be eaten in moderation. Preferably not at night, too. I do think a protein shake with a portioned amount of berries is a great way to start your morning.

        Ah, I see! My apologies. I didn’t mean to call you out on it. Seeing you agree though gave me the affirmation that my understanding of the sweetener was on the right track. Thank you!

        • No worries at al! Things in the nutrition world change so quickly — and new science constantly comes out — which makes it SO important to go back, reassess, and reevaluate everything.

  • lizzy

    Is there any bread would be on the good list? I see pita, but wondering if there is any other kind of bread would be ok to have. And how do you know that the honey is raw?

    • Ezekial’s is great. It’s the only kind I’ll eat on a regular basis.

      Raw honey is always labeled.

      • Laura

        make sure you are looking for high fiber, I always make sure atleast 5 grams per serving, and low sodium, most breads have high amounts of sodium!

  • kjonyou

    Why is Couscous and Pita on the good list? Both are made from unbleached white flour usually. Pita is basically flat white bread and Couscous is really just small grain pasta.

    • I have no issues with whole wheat, as long as it’s pretty basic and there aren’t a ton of additives (and you’re not celiac/gluten sensitive).

      Wheat pita tends to be plain, so I’m fine with it. And like most pasta, couscous is usually made from semolina (durum wheat) and not much else.

      But as you pointed out, there are varieties of both that are made from enriched/unbleached white flour. Those are no-nos.

  • Joey

    How come corn is bad, and popcorn is okay?
    What’s bad about cold cuts? Is it the sodium? Thanks

    • Hey Joey — I actually removed both from the list. I think they both fall somewhere in the middle, under the “they’re fine occasionally” bucket.

      Corn was originally on the really-horrible list more as a product of its preparation, because it’s almost always slathered in butter/salt (whereas basic air-popped popcorn usually has nothing added; excluding the disgusting microwaved crap). Popcorn also has a little bit more fiber (4g per 120 cals) than regular corn does.

      Cold cuts are loaded with sodium, and the meat is processed/low-quality. They’re a fine source of protein if you’re in a bind/on-the-go, but try not to rely on them regularly (i.e. for lunch everyday).

      • mare from the UK

        oh the reason to avoid corn…of any sort in the US is because unless labelled ‘organic’ then it is all GMO….AAAAAAAARG ! xx

  • THATdoodNAHmean

    I gotta give it to you, this seems like a broad variety of foods to choose from and kudos for keeping up to date. Great for all taste buds. Question – I’ve started training for the v cut, I tend to stick to yogurt w/ honey, mixed nuts and a tbsp of organic peanut butter, tthing is, I like cottage cheese also. I know its high in protein and low in fat….is cottage cheese a no-no?

  • Cassandra Petty

    Curious to know the thought’s on the brand Walden Farms?

    • It’s the food equivalent of diet soda. it’s loaded with artificial + chemical crap (sweeteners, colors, preservatives). You’re fine on occasion, but don’t rely on it regularly/use it as a crutch just because it’s cal free.

      • Joanne

        That’s giving it too much credit. Diet soda usually tastes good. I’ve sampled a lot of Walden Farms stuff, and it is AWFUL. All of it.

        • Hahaha. Touché. I won’t touch the stuff.

          • Laurie

            I NEVER like diet sodas. It taste horrible in comparison to the regular version. I don’t drink sodas that much, or hardly, but I do drink green tea without sugar of any sort. Organic green tea at the moment and it’s better for you.
            Not familiar walden farms. Thank god.

        • fitone

          No kidding! I’ve sampled a few also and you’re so right! That stuff testes horrible!

  • Zach

    I would look more into yogurt before listing some of the brands that you did. Greek yogurt has become a marketing plow now adays and companies will slab it on to everything even though their products aren’t remotely close to true greek yogurt (Chobani and Oinkos are perfect examples). They extract the fat in the yogurt and replace it with whey protein and flavoring – aka sugar. The only way you can get true, natural, low-sugar (naturally not added) yogurt is to buy a full fat content brand. The only brand I’ve ever been able to find in the US is Greek God…and I live in San Diego…

    • Laurie

      Greek yogurt seem to cost more than regular yogurt here in the US and I live close to Seattle, WA. Our only option is to have plain yogurt/plain greek yogurt, if any.
      I’ve seen Greek God. Never try it though.

  • Nicole Langford

    Hi Bryan, I was thinking of making baked turkey meatballs. Is lean ground turkey breast okay? Thanks!

    • Go for it, just try to look for meat that’s raised without hormones/steroids/antibiotics.

  • Christopher Nguyen

    Hi Bryan, I heard miso soup is pretty good for diet. But do you know if it is still as good for six pack abs training? Thanks!

    • Hey Chris — I love miso soup and it’s definitely a healthy option, just be careful with how much you’re eating. It’s really high in salt, so you might end up bloated (and puffier than you actually are).

      • Christopher Nguyen

        Would you recommend consuming one small bowl per day?

        • Laurie

          Maybe having it once or twice a week should be good enough. Drink other kind of soup that doesn’t have much salt. Homemade soup is better for you. Just don’t go nuts on the salt. Sea salt is even better.

          • I’m that chick right under guest as Laurie.

  • I’ve noticed that you chose Kind bar as one of them. I recently had them since Sunday and I thought soy lecithin isn’t good at all???!!! From what I read, it’s a food additive UNLESS I’m dead wrong. Soy ingredients aren’t good for us since it affects our hormones. I’m Chinese and for years, been told Tofu is good for us as well as soy milk so as you can see, from my predicament, I was disappointed to see that.
    Other than that, they do use a lot of good ingredients. My fave, at the moment, is the Almond coconut bar. Mmmmm.

    • I also recently tried Nugo and I must say that their bars are quite good and they have bars that are low in sugar. You might want to check them out. I like their raspberry truffle and mint with their regular one.

  • Damon

    I’d like to ask your thoughts on Malt-o-Meal? 0 Fat, 0 Sodium but has 7g sugar in a 35g serving. Thanks!

    • It’s in the same category as cereal — try to limit it, if not cut it out altogether.

  • JJ

    Is lamb okay?

  • Christopher

    Hey Bryan, thanks for this article and the shopping list, Its really helpful to serve as a good reference. I am a big fan of all fruits (esp. watermelon and cantaloupe melons) but they are really sweet. I was wondering if its okay to eat those for abs. Also, I’ve been working on my abs for few months now and stick to the diet as much as possible (98%). I usually have good lunch and snack on almonds, yogurts, carrots celery etc. My dinner consists of a bowl of veggie soup or quinoa (and brown rice and lentils once every 2 weeks) and STRICTLY of a Protein shake (in addition to the one I take pre-workout) Is it okay to have a protein shake for dinner? – I eat my dinner at 7 pm, go to bed at around 9 – 930 ish. I really do appreciate your help.

    • You can definitely have a protein shake for dinner, just make sure you’re squeezing in additional nutrients as well (healthy fats, vits/minerals, etc.).

      Protein’s incredibly beneficial, but it’s only one of the many nutrients you need to build an elite and healthy body.

      And as for the melon, go for it — try to pair it with slower digesting foods (fats and protein) and/or eat it around your workouts, though.

  • Phil dobson

    Hi just wondering if Can u had A gammon joint?

  • Tommy

    What do you think about hummus? I love that stuff.

  • Priyesh DjKlipz Nayee

    Is rice milk ok? I usually add rice milk to my smoothie every morning,

  • Fakhruddin Hakim

    For breakfast i take whole wheat with nutella..lunch eggs + veges..dinner chicken breast or beef meet..is that ok for my routine diet every day..really appreciate if u can reply my curiousity..

  • Em

    Why not soy sauce? Is it the sodium?

    • Juvenal Garza

      Soy sauce is fine

  • Sam

    What’s your opinion on Combat Protein? I like it because it’s gluten free and low in sugars.

  • Trevor Hess

    What about whole wheat bagels? I’m trying to gain weight without the fat, but I also do Cross Country.

  • Trevor Hess

    What’s your opinion on Kind Healthy Grain Bars? Is the sugar content acceptable enough to eat two of these a day, since they only have 7g of sugar?

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Bryan,
    Is heavy cream better or worse than half n half? I have been told that you can cut your coffee and or fruit sugars to help balance the glucose levels with a small amount of cream. I also do notice it adds some bulk 😮 WHat is your opinion on this?
    Thanks!
    -Elizabeth
    ps your site is AWESOME

    • Hey Elizabeth!

      Half/half is just equal parts whole milk + light cream. It has MUCH lower fat content than heavy cream—~15% vs. 40% milk fat—and obviously calories. “Nonfat” half/half doesn’t actually have cream in it — it’s basically skim milk enhanced with corn syrup, thickeners, and other nonsense to improve the texture.

      If you need a little milk action in your coffee, go with REAL half/half, but drinking it black will always be your leanest option (or with a little cinnamon sprinkled in).

      ps. THANK YOU!

  • Bekah

    Quick question- Not because I need the approval to eat salted almonds/ peanuts etc…

    I understand in theory that salted nuts aren’t supposedly good for you. (Which I assume is from the surplus of high blood pressure issues). But for those of us who work out regularly, that know our resting heart rate is below average, and blood pressure is more than fine. Then can it be justified to eat them on the regular as long as you stay hydrated?

    I haven’t heard much about it.

    • I’m 100% cool with salted nuts, especially if you’re exercising regularly. Try to avoid anything coated with sugar though (honey roasted or anything similar).

  • Jeff

    Hey bryan,
    Is it fine to take 3 t.spoons of peanut butter daily.
    And what is the best time interval between dinner and bed time.
    Thnx.

    • Totally, just make sure it’s natural and not loaded with sugar/hydrogenated oils.

      If it’s light, lean, and protein-rich, there really isn’t a hard and fast rule about meal timing before bedtime (the effect on fat storage is overblown). Protein before bed can actually stimulate recovery and protein synthesis overnight, which helps build muscle.

      But if it’s something heavier, I’d shoot for 2-4 hours before sleep. You’ll feel better and sleep better if you’re not digesting while resting.

  • kimberlyduong

    I’ve been looking for a list just like this so thank you! I have switched from white rice to organic quinoa, but I notice that I get stomach aches after eating even 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa with my meal. Can you suggest any remedies for this?

    Also, I’m struggling to determine how much protein I need to eat and in what proportion (relative to the rest of my meal). If I’m eating vegetables, quinoa, and fruit already, I can’t seem to eat enough protein to reach the 70 g that I think I need as an active female. Advice on this?

    • Quinoa can be tough to digest for some people — try brown rice or whole wheat pasta as a direct replacement, or skip the grains altogether and sub with sweet potatoes/carrots/broccoli/cauliflower or any other cooked veg.

      Shoot for .75g/lb/day. So if you weight 100 lbs, aim for 75g a day.

      The obvious move for you is to eat more meat and fish — salmon and chicken are easy options. The same goes for eggs and Greek yogurt (I don’t know your dietary preferences, though). I wouldn’t worry so much about proportion (

      Use our list of top protein sources if you need more ideas: http://www.leanitup.com/protein-up-heres-the-big-list-of-top-protein-sources-incl-the-best-vegetarian-options/

      I’d also pick up a jug of protein powder and add one smoothie per day — it’s a great way to recover post-workout, up protein intake (usually ~25g), and add extra fruit/veg.

      Here’s our guide if you need any info: http://www.leanitup.com/review-protein-powder-buyers-guide-150-popular-protein-powders-shaken-graded/

      -Bryan

      • kimberlyduong

        Thank you so much for all this information! It’s extremely helpful! What are your thoughts on Ezekiel sprouted grains bread? Is it better than whole wheat bread and how does it compare to quinoa/brown rice/whole wheat pasta?

        I also have some stomach pain when eating cauliflower and I’ve heard cauliflower and cabbage are also difficult to digest. Do you have any tips on cooking them a certain way to alleviate this?

        The link to your protein list is awesome. That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Right now I have a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt (23 g) post workout because I can’t stand the taste of protein powders lol

        • Of course!

          -Love Ezekiel’s bread, it’s the only bread I eat (personally). Obviously from a culinary standpoint bread and quinoa/brown rice/whole wheat pasta have different uses, but I’d put it with brown rice in the middle. Quinoa is slightly healthier/WW pasta slightly less so. And honestly, regular pasta isn’t all that different nutritionally from the WW variety — it’s a great option post-wo or in small portions.

          -That’s a lot of leafy vegetables unfort., broc/cauli/brussels sprouts/salad greens are notorious for causing bloating and intestinal problems in large amounts. Don’t eat them raw—sauteeing them or eating them steamed/boiled helps—and try not to eat TOO much at one meal. You’ll avoid some of the stomach issues.

          -I totally get that. Blend it with fruit/nut butter/almond milk/etc…, it’ll change your view on it. I personally use unflavored and blend it up with frozen strawberries, banana, almond milk and any other fruit I have handy. DELICIOUS. Search through our smoothie section if you need any ideas:

          http://www.leanitup.com/category/diet-it-up/smoothies-shakes/

          • kimberlyduong

            Thanks so much for your reply! I feel much better about eating Ezekiel bread now. I still don’t understand why sprouted grains are healthier. How is it different from whole wheat, nutritionally?

            I haven’t had problems with raw kale or lettuce, but cauliflower and cabbage are the worst. You’re right, it may be the portion size. Would you recommend that these bloating veggies be no more than say…25% of a meal?

            Is there merit to protein powder as compared to nonfat Greek yogurt? It seems they offer the same amount of protein in a serving, but the Greek yogurt has other nutritional benefits (for digestion, probiotics?).

            • -When they’re sprouted, it breaks down some of the starch — that improves the digestibility and boosts the nutrient content. That’s especially important if you’re gluten sensitive. Ezekiel’s bread also doesn’t have any sugar, sweeteners, or other crap that a lot of whole wheat bread brands do.

              -It’s hard to tie a percentage to it, because if you’re eating a huge meal you’ll naturally have a higher volume of bloating foods. Let’s say 1-2 servings at a time, or roughly 1/4-1/3 of your plate.

              -Cost effectiveness (protein powder = usually <$1 per serving/25g). An isolate or plant-based protein also won't cause the digestive problems that Greek yogurt will if you're lactose intolerant, if that's an issue for you. Other than that it's just a way to add more variety to your diet, but GY is a phenomenal option.

              • kimberlyduong

                Thank you!

  • Ves

    How do you feel about the “think thin” protein and fiber bars?

  • Veronica

    You mentioned that canned soup is a no. But what about organic kinds such as “Amy’s” organic, low fat Low sodium soups?

    • Go for it! I’m good with Amy’s organic low-sodium line, eat away.

      Sodium is the major no-no in most pre-made soups, so just make sure you’re buying low-sodium varieties. Definitely organic if possible.

  • renee

    what about vegenaise rather than mayo?

  • Scott Mcmath

    Hey Bryan I have been eating the quest protein bars for awhile now but recently dicovered the flavors I was buying had sucralose in it which is Splenda do you think I should be buying the more natural quest bars flavors instead

    • Hey Scott — unless you’re eating 1-2 every day consistently, I wouldn’t worry about it, go with whatever bars you like best.

      If they’re a staple in your diet, it’s probably better to go with the natural flavors if you can.

  • the Healthy Six pack

    This is great. Thanks for awesome and more informative tips it help me a lot to all viewers.You also can view and check more tips here http://www.thehealthysixpackabsdiet.com/.

  • Chris Fox

    Bryan any recommendations on best lean protein sources in a vegan diet?

  • Sam

    Thank you so much for all the great resources on your site. I have been having issues with some bloat, especially after eating. I am in good shape, but I have a little bit of lower stomach fat/ pouch that I can’t tone up. What is your opinion on Betaine HCL. Do you think this could help? I am thinking maybe my stomach doesn’t make enough acid to break down the foods, hence the bloating.

    Thanks!

    • Digestion is a REALLY complicated issue, there are a bunch of things that could be causing the problem — dairy, gluten/wheat sensitivities, artificial ingredients (fiber/sweeteners/colors), not enough fiber or fruits and veg, not enough water.

      Your best bet would be to constantly monitor what you’re eating and see when you have digestive flare ups (bloating, cramping, etc.). You might be able to identify the exact cause, because it’s most likely something you’re eating (or not eating).

      If you can’t do that and it gets really bad, I’d see a GI doctor and have them run tests for allergies.

      Don’t waste your money on betaine, if anything, go with a probiotic — http://www.leanitup.com/review-dumbing-down-the-mind-numbing-world-of-probiotics-the-complete-probiotic-buyers-guide/

  • James

    Thank you very much for this list! I have been looking for a decent one for a while now and it is nice to finally discover one. One question though if that’s ok, what are your thoughts on Sourdough please?

    • You got it! My thoughts…oh so delicious, but not the leanest like most wheat products. Try to limit it or at least eat it in moderation.

  • Scott Mcmath

    Hey Bryan I was wondering if whole grain bagels and whole grain tortillas are ok to eat if I want to get a six
    pack

    • There not horrible, and fine occasionally, but I wouldn’t get in the habit of eating them routinely. Both are carb bombs without much nutritional value.

      If you’re a huge fan, they’re fine post-workout when carbs are extra important for growth/recovery/refueling.

  • az1234

    Hey Bryan would you say a quest protein bar with 21 gms of protein and >1gm of sugar and 2 to 6 sugar alcohols is a good bar to choose?

  • Scott Mcmath

    whats your thoughts on raw honey

  • az1234

    What is your opinion on flexible dieting where these people are eating anything they want and still getting gains?