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Where Abs Await

Think of your abdominal muscles as long-lost pals you once knew in high school. Sure, when you were younger, you used to see them every day, but as the years have passed, you’ve lost touch. You went on with your life, which got busier and more hectic every day, and your abs sort of receded into the background, until you all but forgot about them. But your abs are still there, hanging out in the old neighborhood, waiting to be found and rediscovered. And eating great food—food that you cook yourself— is the first step in finding them again. Consider: In a study at Penn State, 50 obese subjects were split into two groups.

One group ate mostly whole grains—one of the 12 Abs Diet Powerfoods you’ll read about in a coming chapter. The other group didn’t. After 12 weeks of moderate exercise, both sets of subjects lost weight, but the whole grain group lost mostly belly fat. And their levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of heart disease and diabetes risk, had dropped by 38 percent. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight subjects ate 340-calorie breakfasts of either two eggs (another powerfood!) or a bagel 5 days a week for 8 weeks. Those who ate the eggs lost 65 percent more weight than the bagel eaters (and no, their cholesterol levels didn’t go up).

At Syracuse University, researchers discovered that exercisers who drank high-protein smoothies (yep, it’s part of the Abs Diet plan, too) had higher metabolic rates the next day—meaning they burned more fat, even at rest. Simply choosing the right snacks can have a dramatic impact on your weight. The journal Obesity recently reported a study showing that people who eat nuts (psst . . . nuts are one of the 12 Abs Diet Powerfoods, too) twice a week are nearly 30 percent less likely to gain weight than people who rarely eat the fiber and protein-rich snacks. These studies aren’t about cutting calories or spending hours in the gym. They’re about the power of eating great food (and more of it!) and how easy it is to trim away belly fat when you know what and how to eat.