The Perfect Grocery List for Ripped Abs

by | Nutrition

What should you eat to get abs? The answer is that you have surprisingly many choices.

But first, we need to lay down some ground rules. There are a few universal tips you can apply to anything you put in your grocery cart.

General Rules to Getting Shredded

To get a visible six pack you need to be lean enough. Exercise and ab genetics also play a huge rule. However, body fat has the most impact on your looks.

Even great genetics and a ton of ab work won’t help if you have a massive gut. This is why your main focus is to reduce belly fat. Once most of it is gone the muscles beneath will be finally visible.

Your body will start burning fat for energy when your daily energy needs are not met with food. This usually means:

  • you’re eating less – consuming fewer calories
  • you start exercising – energy expenditure goes up
  • or a combination of both – diet + exercise

In this article, we’ll focus on the food part of the equation.

When it comes to your diet, things are simple. There are 3 main rules to follow. You should choose foods that:

  • contain few calories
  • provide enough vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc)
  • are voluminous and satiating

In this article we’ll also cover choices that are:

  • budget friendly
  • easy to prepare

Most wholefoods fit the criteria listed above. As a general rule, try to get 80% of your calories from such sources.

What Healthy Foods to Include in Your Grocery Cart

Your daily needs include a few vital nutrients:

  • Protein – mostly used to build and repair tissue
  • Fats – essential for many bodily processes
  • Carbs – provide energy (some carb-rich sources also contain fiber and micronutrients)
  • Fiber – important for gut health, digestion, and proper bowel movement
  • Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants) – vital for good health

We’ll list down the best sources for each type. Many foods contain a combination of a few different nutrients. That’s why you may see some options in more than one list.

Fiber, vitamins, or minerals are not covered extensively. However, most protein, carb, and fat options listed here are naturally high in fiber and micronutrients.

Note: We won’t include foods that are too caloric, heavily processed, not satiating, or easy to overeat on.

Which Foods Are Rich in Protein?

Here are a few great examples:

  • lean meat: poultry, turkey, sirloin or tenderloin beef
  • white fish: pollock, tilapia, or cod
  • low-fat dairy: skim milk, cottage cheese, quark, skyr, Greek yogurt
  • eggs: egg whites (yolks contain too much fat)
  • vegan high-protein foods: tofu, tempeh, seitanmiso or natto

Vegetarian and vegan-friendly options also include legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) and peas (green peas). Note that those foods contain a lot of carbs. But they still provide quality protein.

Most animal sources contain no carbs. But they may be high on the fat content. That’s why you should look for no-fat, fat-free, or low-fat options.

When it comes to meat you want to select lean cuts with less marbling. Check out the USDA beef marbling guide here.

If you don’t feel like cooking, (low fat) dairy is your most convenient protein source. Fermented soy products can also get the job done.

Which Foods Are Rich in Carbs?

Here are a few great examples:

Side carbs:

  • grains and similar: oats, rice, bulgur, barley, quinoa
  • legumes: beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • root vegetables: potatoes (also in the veggie list)
  • bread: sourdough and sprouted grain bread (Ezekiel bread)


  • leafy greens: lettuce, spinach, and kale
  • cruciferous:  broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage
  • root vegetables: potato, sweet potato, yam, beets, carrots
  • edible plant stem: celery, and asparagus
  • others: eggplant, zucchini, peppers, etc

Fruits and Berries

  • fruits: apples, bananas, oranges… pretty much anything goes
    berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries

Most of the options on this list are easy to prepare and require little to no cooking. If you’re feeling particularly lazy you can also go for:

  • frozen & microwavable: veggie mixes, roasted or baked potatoes, rice mixes
  • canned or jarred: beans, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, sweet corn, asparagus
  • order online or eat out: rice with veggies, porridge, baked potatoes, salads (no seasoning)

Which Foods Are Rich in Fats?

Here are a few great examples:

  • oils: olive oil, flaxseed, sesame, canola, sunflower, etc
  • fatty fish: salmon, sardines, and mackerel
  • eggs: whole eggs
  • nuts: all kinds (including coconut)
  • fruits (sort of): avocado

If you’re trying to lose weight don’t worry too much about fat. Fat rich foods contain a lot of calories. That’s why you’re better off avoiding them.

Fat is also easy to include in the diet. You can either add little olive oil to your salad. Or replace one of your lean protein sources with a full-fat alternative. Nuts are another easy way to include healthy fats.

Which Foods Will Ruin Your Abs?

To get shredded you need to pay extra attention to two things. Those are the caloric content and palatability of foods.

Unsurprisingly, foods that pack a lot of calories are also super tasty. This increases the risk of overeating. A single Oreo won’t kill you. But very few people can stop there and resist the temptation to grab a dozen more.

By filling your shopping basket with junk food you’re guaranteed to snack on those treats later. It’s important to limit yourself when you shopping. Deliberately skip the candy aisle to avoid exposing yourself to temptations back home.

Here are 2 great rules to follow:

  • Avoid sweets and salty snacks (this includes salted nuts)
  • If you do buy those, avoid large or family size packs (opt for fun size instead)

There are other ways to add variety and enjoy some “naughty” foods. Instead of buying a whole cake, go eat out once in a while. Plan a night out.

This way you’ll naturally limit your portion sizes. You can enjoy tasty food and have a good time.

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