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Want to know a secret? We all have abs, they might not be completely ripped but they’re there, they may just be hidden under a layer of body fat.

“Often people believe that doing endless crunches and sit-ups is the one and only key to unlocking their abs,"says Julio Mathieu, personal trainer at Fitness First. "But actually, getting rid of the layer of fat that sits in front of them is far more important in the early stages of the quest for a flat, washboard-like stomach. The best way to achieve this is not endless crunches, but changing your eating habits,"

“These quick dietary tips won’t promise to get you a serious six-pack instantly, but they’ll certainly get you on your way to that end goal, a six-pack is made in the kitchen more than it is in the gym."

1. Eat more frequently throughout the day

An example of a daily eating plan - perfect for building abs of steel

“Ideally you want to be consuming four to six meals per day, instead of the usual three," says Julio. "This can, of course, include those three meals, but try having smaller portions and eating more often. By doing so you increase your body’s metabolic rate (the rate at which It burns fat), allowing you to set fire to more calories throughout the day."

2. Include a good source of protein in every meal or snack

Protein

 “Eating protein has a far greater thermogenic (calorie-burning) effect than eating fat or carbs. Therefore, by eating more protein you can give your metabolic rate a real boost. Go for lean meats like chicken breast or salmon and stock up on cottage cheese and natural yoghurts."

3. Don’t forget to eat your veggies

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 “Vegetables aren’t at all calorie dense," says Julio. "But they do contain a lot of important vitamins, fibre and minerals. The fibre contained in most vegetables will help stop you from over indulging in the ‘bad’ foods that can halt your progress."

 4. Have some healthy essential fats with every meal

Fresh avocados at local market

“Yes, I'm recommending you eat fat to burn fat," says Julio. "It's true — certain fats can actually help enhance fat loss. More specifically it's polyunsaturated (which are essential fatty acids) and monounsaturated fats that have a host of health benefits and can also support fat loss.

"Some excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats include fish, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Almonds, pecans, olive oil, and avocados are great sources of monounsaturated fats."

5. Drink plenty of water throughout the day

A bottle of drinking water.

“Just like food, water can also have a thermogenic (calorie-burning) effect on the body," says Julio. "Drinking cold water has actually been shown to significantly increase metabolism. Simply put, a more hydrated body is more metabolically active."