I used to think the way to a strong and lean core was crunches, sit-ups, reverse crunches, etc.  I have recently discovered that no matter how many abdominal exercises I do, if I am not eating the right foods, then I will never see six pack abs. Your core food and exercise go hand in hand, just as in any health and fitness program. One will not work without the other.

Here are 12 ab friendly foods to keep in your kitchen according to Women’s Health Magazine.

Almonds and other nuts: A great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber. Almonds help reduce weight significantly and are also a natural energy booster, so skip the coffee or energy drink and grab a handful of almonds instead!


Beans and Legumes: Build muscle, burn fat and regulate digestion. Adding beans to your diet helps to cut calories, adds fiber to your diet and keeps you feeling fuller longer.


Spinach: Spinach contains twice as much fiber as other greens, as well as powerful antioxidants. Raw spinach contains a great source of vitamin C, so swap your normal salad for a spinach salad! For healthy and delicious skinny salads, click here!


Dairy Products: Dairy is known to improve bone health and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It is also a great source of calcium!


Oatmeal: It can help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, prevent the development of diabetes, and give your immune system an instant boost.  Try adding berries to your oatmeal for an even healthier meal!


Eggs: A great source of protein and nutrients, eggs help build muscle and burn fat. Eating eggs for breakfast can help reduce cravings for sugary or fatty foods later in the day.


Turkey and Other Lean Meats: A great source of protein that can help build muscle. Turkey is also rich in nutrients and contains all B vitamins. If you’re eating deli style turkey, look for nitrate-free brands. I love this Low Carb Chipotle Cheese Burger using ground turkey. If you haven’t tried it, check out the recipe here!


Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter is packed with fiber, protein, vitamin E and potassium. It also contains the “good” fat – monounsaturated. In a recent study, adults who ate a diet high in monounsaturated fats had less belly fat than people who ate more carbohydrates or saturated fats. (Prevention)


Olive Oil: Naturally free of trans fat, salt, gluten, cholesterol, and sugar, it helps aid in digestion and has been known to promote healthy aging.


Whole Grain Bread and Cereals: A whole grain rich diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity. It also helps prevent the body from storing fat. (photo credit)


Whey Powder: Whey is often referred to as the golden standard of protein. It builds muscle and burns fat while supporting your immune system and helping you preserve lean body tissue.


Berries: Berries are a super food! Great for losing weight because they fill you up quickly while driving down the calories. They are known to help with age-related memory loss, arthritis, eyesight problems and maintaining healthy skin and hair.


By keeping these great foods in your kitchen and pairing them with a great core workout routine, you will be well on your way to building the stomach muscles you want and need!