The Beginner’s Guide to Abs Diet

Gunjan Sooden

August 16, 2022

The abs diet is a six-week diet plan for men and women devised by David Zinczenko, former editor-in-chief of Men’s Health Magazine, in 2004 in his book “The Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life”.

The highlight of this diet plan is that you can eat six times a day and are not required to count the calories, owing to its portion size and control. The author also claims that a flat and strong abdominal region increases your longevity, helps you get better sleep, and prevents frequent body pain. 

This diet promotes balanced nutrition or simply a balanced diet compared to other diets that primarily focus on majority protein intake for muscle building.

This diet facilitates individuals to add snack meals between larger meals, done two hours before and after lunch and dinner. ‘Snacks’ here doesn’t go with its generic meaning but includes nuts, whole grains, beans, peanut butter, and eggs, which come under the so-called “power foods” category. You get a ‘cheat meal’ once a week to satisfy your cravings and boost your metabolism, as per the author’s claim. 

What to Eat?

The six-week diet plan prescribes whole vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, nuts, whole grains, whey protein, and lean sources with no stringent restrictions on carbohydrate intake.

Eat these foods in six meals, among which two are lunch and dinner, and the other four are lighter, nutritious snack meals, all containing at least two of the aforementioned ‘power foods.

The author emphasises consuming smoothies made with power foods like berries, nuts, peanut butter, and whey protein as a substitute for meals at times. Vegans and vegetarians can easily swap meat-based meals with soy meals. 

What Not to Eat? 

The diet plan restricts the consumption of carbohydrates and fats to less than two servings per meal. Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) are essential as they are the highest energy providers after carbohydrates.

Still, the problem is they get stored in the body very quickly and are quite challenging to burn, which is not favourable to abs. The same goes with carbohydrates, broken down into glucose (sugar) in the blood, spiking insulin levels. 

Research suggests that insulin spikes promote fat storage in our bodies. The diet plan advises avoiding processed foods, refined grains, alcohol, and smoking as these retard the pace of weight loss and muscle growth and promote fat secretion in our bodies. Also, foods containing trans fat or high fructose corn syrup are strictly prohibited. 

The HealthifyMe Note

The abs diet consists primarily of whole foods high in fibre, protein, and healthy fats. Additionally, combining your diet with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle is crucial to emphasise overall fat loss. Dietary supplements nourishing for strengthening abs include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and legumes. You can build abs by reducing your diet of refined carbohydrates, sugary snacks, alcohol, fried foods, and many other things. Furthermore, it includes a guide to workouts like strength training, fat-burning cardio, and abdominal exercises.

How Feasible is it to Follow the Abs Diet?

The abs diet by David Zinczenko is one of the most doable diets for developing abs. You get to eat six meals a day, all nutritious but also filling meals. So, it is pretty evident that you will not go hungry during the diet, unlike others that do the exact opposite.

Many recipes are designed, including the ‘power foods’ so you are not lost or confused about what dishes to make. There is also room for one cheat meal a week where you forget your diet and the power foods you will be dealing with the other days of the week and jump onto your cravings. All of these diet plan aspects make it very convenient to follow. 

Shopping List for the Abs Diet

The shopping list for the Abs Diet generally consists of the power foods and other healthy ingredients of your choice. A typical shopping list for the diet is as follows:

  • Fruits (berries- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, pineapple, and grapes)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, wild rice, oats, oatmeal, and quinoa)
  • Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  • Vegetables (eggplant, capsicum, broccoli, beetroot, tomatoes)
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, kale, arugula)
  • Nuts (almond, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts)
  • Eggs
  • Whole grain bread
  • Good quality whey protein
  • Butter Fruit
  • Probiotic, low-fat dairy (butter, cheese, milk)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Some tweaks like soy milk and tofu for vegans instead of dairy get recommended. For people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease must go for gluten-free options.

Health benefits of the Abs Diet

The abs diet is a somewhat well-balanced workout and diet plan that might have some health advantages.

Good Source of Protein

The abs diet includes food high in protein like poultry (chicken and turkey), lean meat (beef, pork, and lamb), fish which is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, low-fat dairy products, eggs, and vegetarian proteins such as tofu and beans. According to a study, these dietary foods also have a nutrient-rich profile like healthy fats and fibres, which helps build muscle, reduce hunger and overall health.

Boost Exercise

In the abs diet, one of the best benefits is to add a high-intensity exercise program that incorporates both strength and cardiovascular training, which may lead to weight loss. Research shows this training program is a great way to strengthen abdominal muscles while boosting cardiovascular fitness. Usually, fat loss programs don’t specify an exercise plan in detail.

Help in Weight Loss

The abs diet promotes nutritious meals and exercising regularly, which may help you lose weight. According to research, strength training and cardio are efficient exercise modalities and work better together than alone to reduce body fat.

Other Health Benefits

  • The abs diet provides the liberty of indulgence in various healthy foods.
  • The diet plan may be for six weeks but provides a guide to maintain weight and abdominal shape for more extended periods.
  • It also encourages a woman’s guide to build a strong abdominal region.

Potential Drawbacks of the Abs Diet

While this plan has its advantages, due to the lack of scientific evidence, it also has some drawbacks.

No Reliable Sources

There isn’t any research on the abs diet to support the extensive claims regarding certain health benefits. There hasn’t been any research on the abs diet, though some evidence supports some of its aspects.

The only source accessible to those using this strategy is the book “The Abs Diet”, which bears no appropriate evidence or study findings to support it. Speak with your doctor first before incorporating this diet into your practice.

Promotes Unhealthy Dietary Patterns

On your “cheat day,” Zinczenko suggests eating anything you want, discouraging moderation and not supporting a positive connection with food. The “cheat day” meals typically consist of appealing but harmful junk food and may slow down weight loss while aggravating the issue, and dieters are more inclined to feel bad for failing their diet.

May Not Helpful for Everyone

Experts in nutrition and fitness are divided on whether frequent eating can help people lose weight; nonetheless, this approach might not be the best.

Especially for somebody who is obese, or better yet, overweight, this routine six-meal diet plan will do more bad than good as it is the exact opposite of fasting methods which regulate the sugar and insulin levels in the body and promote fat loss.

When examining the connection between eating frequency, food consumption, and weight, research revealed that increasing eating frequency did not offer any appreciable benefits.

Other Points to Remember

  • The diet plan emphasises a balanced diet rather than getting six-pack abs or a toned abdominal region. 
  • It does not comprise a stepwise weight-loss and muscle development plan which can guide the readers throughout the six weeks.
  • This diet plan believes the ‘spot-reduction of fat’ myth when it specifies abs crunching workout for fat loss in that particular region is false. Research backs up our reason.

The HealthifyMe Note

The abs diet encourages consuming healthy foods and regular exercise to lose weight. For overweight or obese, it can be quite helpful because it will enable them to switch from a traditional diet to a healthier one without making any dietary modifications or with very little change. However, the regular use of specific foods is responsible for the abs diet’s health risks. Since every meal contains some sugar, regular food consumption raises insulin levels. 

Is the Abs Diet Right For You?

This diet is well recommended for someone who wants to gain weight because it involves frequent eating and does not require the dieter to go through the hassle of counting calories.

It could be helpful to somebody who wants to maintain their weight but also wants to eat substantial and frequent meals. But, there is a high chance of them gaining weight very quickly.

This diet plan can also be helpful to those overweight people who have a very unhealthy diet and want to bring a change and shift to healthy foods practically. It would be beneficial for only a certain period until they have modified their appetite; continuing it would not do any good.  


The abs diet is based on David Zinczenko’s 2004 book “The Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life.” It includes a six-week diet plan with six meals per day.

It encourages high-calorie intake by having more meals per day than necessary and does not require calorie counting instead of creating a calorie deficit needed for weight loss and muscle building. Furthermore, it believes in spot fat reduction around the belly area to achieve visible six-pack abs, which is straight-up misinformation.

All of these facts about the diet plan render it untrustworthy. Dieters should remember that the best diet is well-balanced and fits their lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q. What is a good diet for abs?

A. A diet that is low in carbs and fats but high in proteins may be the best way to build stronger and healthier abdominal muscles. The diet should contain lean sources of protein, lean meat, walnuts, almonds, quinoa, flaxseeds, beans, low-fat milk, cheese, butter, salmon, etc. 

Q. What to avoid eating to get abs?

A. One must avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup, simple unhealthy carbohydrates, and fatty foods to get abs. These foods store fat, especially in the lower abdominal area. 

Q. Can I eat rice for my abs?

A. Yes, but it entirely depends on the type, when, and how much you eat. Consuming white rice before exercise is advisable as it is lighter on your stomach and consists of simple carbohydrates that provide instant energy. Note that if no exercise or workout gets done, the carbohydrates convert into sugar and do not get used up. It can increase insulin in your blood which results in increased fat secretion. Avoid high amounts of rice as it contains many carbohydrates that are difficult to burn during workouts. 

Q. How do you get abs in 2 weeks?

A. Getting abs in two weeks is quite hard and also impractical sometimes. It depends upon your current body-fat percentage. If it is more than 15%, you have a long way ahead, and it will take more than two weeks. If it is around 10%, it is possible to get six-pack abs in two weeks. All you need to do is maintain a calorie deficit and exercise your core and abdominal muscles as much as possible. A protein-rich diet for two weeks is necessary so that your body gets sufficient protein to build muscle as soon as possible. 

Q. Can you get abs in 30 days?

A. Yes, you can get six-pack abs in 30 days. If your current body-fat percentage is more than 15%, it is not possible as a lot of subcutaneous fat in your body burns off, which takes a lot of time. A protein-rich but calorie-deficit diet is a must for people with approximately 10% body fat. Exercises like core training, ab crunches, leg raises, etc., are suggested as they will be very beneficial for developing abdominal muscles quickly.

Q. Are bananas good for abs?

A. Bananas are a great source of potassium that helps reduce water retention in the abdominal region, and it is only applicable when you already have toned abs. They cannot be consumed in your diet as the sole energy provider as they are known to be fattening. 

Q. Can you eat pizza and have abs?

A. Pizza contains a lot of unhealthy fats, carbohydrates, and empty calories that would significantly hinder your weight loss and muscle-building journey to get six-pack abs. So, eating pizza and wishing to obtain abs are two very mutually exclusive events. 

Q. How do you get abs fast?

A. Maintaining a strict, protein-rich diet, being in a calorie deficit, and a dedicated, stringent workout regime targeting the abdominal muscle are the sure-shot ways to get six-pack abs as quickly as possible.

Q. Is chicken good for abs?

A. Chicken is an excellent source of protein, especially chicken breasts or lean chicken. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein that is always advisable by fitness experts. Protein, which is necessary for muscular growth, is essential for developing abdominal muscles.

Q. Is white rice terrible?

A. White rice can be very beneficial before workout sessions as it provides instant energy because it contains simple carbohydrates that break down into glucose much easier than wild forms of rice that comprise complex carbohydrates. However, consuming white rice often will only store the carbohydrates as glycogen and fat in your body which is terrible. 

About the Author

Gunjan Sooden graduated from Delhi University with a degree in nutrition and dietetics. She is passionate about helping people understand the value of healthy eating, cooking, and food & nutrition in their fitness journey. Eating healthy, she believes, should not be boring. With experience as an intern in the food sector, she is best at exploring and producing recipes using local, day-to-day ingredients. This generation differs from the previous one. We need to figure out quick ways to make our regular meals healthier and more delicious. Because this is our current way of life, we must balance being busy while still being able to eat healthily, right?

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