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11 Nutrition Strategies to Pop Those Abs...Finally

10. Start right.
Your first meal of the day and your first post-training meal should contain your largest carb intakes of the day. Your body's glycogen stores are depleted when you wake up; promptly replenishing them is crucial to physical and mental functioning, and for firing up the metabolic fat-burning furnace.

Before you eat in the morning, take advantage of this glycogen-depleted state by performing your cardio. Undertaken on an empty stomach, cardiovascular training forces your body to use stored fat as a fuel source, provided your workout intensity isn't too high. This approach allows you to max out your fat-loss efforts. A hint: If you can't speak normally while training, bring it down a notch; likewise, if you don't break a sweat and feel a bit fatigued afterward, you took it too easy.

A serious weight-training session depletes glycogen stores. Consume a mix of simple and complex carbs (along with a protein-rich food) within 60 minutes after a workout for immediate energy restoration and to ensure long-term muscle mending.

11. Finish light.
Your last meal (or two) of the day should emphasize protein, rather than slow-burning carbs such as potatoes and pasta. The carbs you do ingest should be the "wet" kind contained in high-water, medium-fiber foods such as cucumbers, leafy green salads, tomatoes and steamed asparagus. High-fiber, low-water foods absorb a tremendous amount of water, leaching it out of your system; since you can't drink while you sleep, wet carbs allow you to maintain relatively adequate levels of water during the night.

Here's a bonus tip: Get in the habit of eating fish during your last repast of the day. Fish makes for a lighter meal, and it's a good way to replenish aminos while getting essential fatty acids. Fish is healthy as well: The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna) per week.

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