Those elusive six-pack abs: everybody wants them, few of us ever achieve them, and most of us don’t understand how to get them.

Contrary to popular belief, killer abs aren’t exclusively reserved for elite bodybuilders and fitness models. Normal people can get them too, and the secret is all in your diet.

Now is the time to wake up and realize that you already have the potential for amazing abs…they’re just hidden under a stubborn layer of fat that you can burn off with plants.

The Correlation Between Abs and Fat

It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of crunches you do every day. If your diet is crap, you’re never going to lose belly fat and get that six-pack. The struggle to lose fat around the mid-section is very real, but well within your reach if you replace steaks with salads.

Ultimately, you need to get your body fat percentage down before you can start to sculpt those abs.

Research shows that you will start to lose weight if you cut at least 500 calories out of your daily diet. One pound of weight equals 3,500 calories, so you’ll need to cut 500 calories to lose a pound per week and 1,000 calories to shed off two pounds per week.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that losing weight is more about healthful choices than moderation, and more about plant foods than portion monitoring.

After putting test subjects on vegetarian and vegan diets, the researchers found that people who stuck with plants lost over 10 pounds, regardless of calorie counting or exercise plans. Combine your plant-based diet with a regular workout routine and you’ll be well on your way to that six-pack.

How Plants Help Burn Fat

Fortunately for non-meat-eaters, consuming plants can actually help burn fat. A study published in Nutrition Reviews found that vegan diets caused more calories to be burned after meals, compared to meat-based diets that cause fewer calories to be burned because food is being stored as fat.

Vegetables and fruits contain mostly water, which means they’ll keep you full without adding unwanted calories. This is great news if you’re working out because you can consume a higher volume of food to make up for that energy loss without taking in more calories.

Lots of plant-based foods are also high in fiber, which reduces belly inflammation and moves along the digestion process.

Top Fat-Burning Plant Foods

Of course, some plant-based foods are better than others at burning fat and revealing those stunning abs underneath. Plenty of cookies, breads, and potato chips are meat-free, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re healthy choices.

These are some of the best plant-based foods that will help you carve the abs you crave.

  1. Quinoa
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Asparagus
  6. Berries
  7. Oatmeal
  8. Flax seeds
  9. Vegan protein powder (we recommend this)
  10. Almonds, cashews, and walnuts

Obviously, eating plants isn’t going to get you the abs you want without putting some work into it, and that’s where the exercise component comes in. Some of the best ab exercises to keep that momentum going are planks, hanging leg raises, and cable crunches.

Not only will plants help prep your body for these workouts, but they’ll also deliver the nutrients your ab muscles need to tighten up and energy to work out longer and stronger.

To learn more about how to sculpt your abs while building muscle and eating plants, check out our interviews with Fraser Bayley, founder of Plant Strong Fitness who gave up meat in 2013 and never looked back.