You can do as many crunches, sit-ups and planks as you like — to the point where it hurts every time you sneeze — but if you’re not eating right, your six-pack will never reveal itself.
So, you need to factor-in some serious fridge discipline to make the most of your abdominal assaults.
Thankfully, Men’s Health’s fitness adviser Ray Klerck lays down the laws of eating your way to cover-model abs.
Plates at the ready.
The five golden rules
Rule 1: Eat like a king in the morning, a prince in the afternoon and a pauper in the evening.
Rule 2: Consume six small meals to keep your blood-sugar levels steady, and 3-4 litres of water a day.
Rule 3: Pack in at least 150g of protein a day from lean red meat, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, tofu or pulses. Your body uses 20% to 30% more energy to digest protein than it needs for carbohydrates.
Rule 4: Do not go without food for more than three hours otherwise the body will suppress its calorie-burning capacity.
Rule 5: Don’t snack after 11pm.
Foods you should be eating
• 5 portions of fruit & vegetables daily.
• A high-carb breakfast every morning as early as possible: porridge or scrambled/poached eggs on wholemeal toast.
• Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are great for snacking on throughout the day.
• Get enough healthy fats each week: oily fish, mixed nuts and seeds.
• Lots of greens: broccoli, kale, spinach, green beans and cabbage.
• Protein shakes an hour before training and immediately after.
• Plain meats and fish.
• Beans, lentils, oats, brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal and rye breads
• Green tea.
• Cheese and plain yogurt.
• Jalapeño, Habanera and Cayenne chillies.
• Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes.
Foods you should NOT be eating
• Sauces: use extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil, lemon juice, wine vinegars or reduced-salt soy sauce to flavour your food.
• Booze: particularly beer and wine. Vodka, lime and soda is a good alternative, but not to fuel lost weekends or all-nighters.
• Chips, sweets, chocolate and jam.
• Deep-fried anything.
• White pasta, rice and bread.
• Takeaways and soft drinks.
• Carbs in the evening.
7am: Oatmeal porridge with banana and raisins, washed down with tea.
10am: 2 poached eggs on wholemeal bread
12pm: Protein shake (pre-training).
2pm: Protein shake (post-training), followed by chicken breast with spinach, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato.
5pm: Protein bar and banana.
8pm: Grilled tuna steak with broccoli, carrots, kale, quinoa and soy sauce. For dessert, papaya with ginger and lime juice.
This article originally appeared on MensHealth.co.uk