As the weather is getting colder and the #stayhome ruling has juuuuust been extended (thanks, Melbourne!), the need to get the beach-ready six-pack may not be so urgent. But even if you’re not going to show it off at St Kilda Beach, it’s still something to aim for.
A handful of nuts is a great way to get healthy fats in your diet. Almonds are your best bet, low in calories and carbs with 1 ounce (roughly 23 almonds) containing less than 150 calories and only 1.5 grams of carbs. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed people who added 1.5 ounces of the nut to their diet each day reported reduced hunger. That’s down to its non-fermentable fibres, which also stabilise your blood sugar levels and prevent bloating. A true triple threat for a six-pack.
‘Midget trees’ or no, its abs-building benefits are anything but small. Wicks’ favourite green is rich in the phytonutrient, sulforaphane. A study published by the American Diabetes Association found that sulforaphane triggers the creation of healthier brown fat, starving off unhealthy, inflammatory white fat storage around your midsection. If that wasn’t enough, Broccoli is also high in folate acid, helping the production new red blood cells, which means more oxygen can be delivered to your muscles when training.
Wicks regularly adds antioxidant-packed blueberries to his overnight oats and it’s for good reason. Not only are they loaded with polyphenols that prevent fat forming in the first place, but catechins in the fruit also increase fat loss if it’s already descended to your love handles. Finally, the skins on blueberries are rich in ursolic acid, a chemical which researchers at the University of Iowa found halts muscle breakdown when you’re training hard
A Lean-In-15 video isn’t complete without Wicks throwing a teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan. 60% of the fats in the oil are medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are converted to energy quickly, almost like carbs, but benefit from not raising your blood sugar. Research published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who consumed MCFAs, instead of olive oil, lost not only more total fat mass overall, but also dropped more abdominal fat than subjects consuming the Mediterranean counterpart.
Wicks has a sweet tooth like the rest of us. When cravings hit, he’ll break off a few squares of dark chocolate, which is full of the antioxidant, flavonoids. A study by the University of California San Francisco found small daily doses of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate improved blood vessels’ ability to expand. This increase in the amount of blood delivered to your abs during and after your workout means you’ll perform and recover better. Just make sure the cocoa content is 70 per cent or more.
Stay fit for your workouts by adding Star Anise to your Thai Green Curry like Wicks. The spice is a great source of shikimic acid, which a study published in the Journal of Medical Virology found, when combined with other components in the spice, ramps up an individuals immunity to fully resist viral infection. Adding it to your post-workout curry will also do wonders for your protein absorption, as it’s rich in the chemical anethole, which activates enzymes to improve the digestive process of protein.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health UK.