Many of us have a love/hate relationship with our abs. When they feel good, they give us strength and confidence. When they feel flabby, they give us anxiety and stress. As summer approaches the pressure to flaunt a flat stomach is in full force. And to make matters worse, you’ve probably spent the last 6 months of chilly winter weather indulging in some much-needed comfort food. So the road to bikini-worth abs seems like a long, hard trek. And we’re not even talking about a 6-pack; all we’re after is a toned mid-section that makes you feel your best so you’re ready to hit the beach pronto. But how do you achieve these dream abs? Do you need to do sit-ups all day, every day? Do you need to starve yourself? No and heck no. Sure, exercise helps, but there’s more to achieving flat summer abs than just doing crunches. According to Myatt Murphy, author of The Body You Want in the Time You Have, in an article for Health.com, “I recommend the DCBA approach: Diet first, Cardio second, Building muscle third, and Abs exercises last. Follow it and you can safely lose one to two pounds a week.” In other words, the foods you put in your body are arguably more important than the abs exercises you do. Turns out what you eat can make a big difference in how your stomach section appears.

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According to fitness expert and TV personality Jillian Michaels, “all processed foods need to go. Get rid of the potato chips, microwave dinners, and definitely put an end to those fast food fixes. The sodium, preservatives and sugars alone will help keep your belly looking bloated and defeat your efforts. Replace the junk food with whole, quality, organic foods that are packed with healthy nutrients, not preservatives.” Here are 8 of the best foods to eat if you want a flat stomach this summer. And the best part is, you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself—these foods are actually delicious!

1. Greek Yogurt
A flat tummy is all about maintaining proper digestions so that you don’t bloat, and probiotics, which are found in yogurts, help keep your digestive system working smoothly, so that you don’t get constipated, gassy or bloated. When your body is working as it should, and you don’t get stuffed up, you’ll not only feel better, but your stomach will look better as well. And as an added bonus, Greek yogurt (opt for low-fat or fat-free varieties) is loaded with protein and low in calories.


2. Almonds
Nuts are high in fiber, protein and antioxidants, all of which can help fill you up, and prevent you from indulging in unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar, fat and calories. Plus they can give you a nice boost of energy as a pre-workout snack, so you’ll feel more inclined to workout, which will help you with your flat-ab mission. A handful of almonds or walnuts a day can make your tummy look and feel more lean. Just don’t go for the slated, roasted nuts, which may contain a ton of sodium, which can make you retain water and bloat.


3. Apples
An apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away; it also keeps belly fat and bloating away, which is equally important for most of us during summertime. Apples have been recently associated with weight loss (and weight loss means a flatter tummy) thanks to the high contents of fiber and the fact that apples contain a lot of water, so you’ll feel full and eat less. As Prevention reports, a recent study in Food Chemistry, suggests that “because apples contain non-digestible compounds that promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut associated with weight loss.” And beyond that, apples have been shown to promote a healthier immune system and a reduced risk of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. In other words, you should be included apples in your daily diet if you want to be healthy and have a toned mid-section.


4. Salmon
This heart-healthy fish is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which can make your metabolism more efficient so you burn more fat. Burning more fat —> flaunting more abs. Plus salmon is high in protein so you’ll feel satisfied and be less tempted to eat unhealthy foods that could derail your efforts.

5. Quinoa
Whole grains are an important part of any diet, and if you’re looking to slim down, reduce bloating and fill up on nutrient-rich foods, then quinoa is going to be your best friend. This grain is higher in fiber and protein than most other grain options, and it’s so versatile you can eat it for almost every meal of the day in a variety of dishes, ranging from salad to cereal to a quinoa bowl or a cookie.


6. Broccoli and Cauliflower
Fewer calories and more fiber is a good combination when you’re trying to beat belly bulge. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts all contain vitamins A, C, and K, plus they have magnesium and a lot of fiber to help you control your weight and keep your belly slim.

7. Olive Oil
According to the Abs Diet, olive oil is one of the best foods to help you banish belly bulge and maintain a flat stomach. That’s because olive oil helps to lower cholesterol, boost your immune system and it can help fight obesity.

8. Beans and legumes
Last but not least, beans and legumes such as garbanzo beans, black bean and soy beans can help build muscle (so your tummy looks toned and your muscles are stronger) while also burning more fat (so you can see your abs). Plus they help regulate your digestive system so you won’t be bloated, all of which leads to a flat stomach that is summer-ready.