I know that it's very important to have a proper diet when you want to develop a sixpack. I often read that one should avoid pasta, rice, potatoes, bread and so on.

However, I like this stuff very much. Is there a way to incorporate pasta, rice, potatoes and bread into a diet which aims to develop a sixpack?

My idea is to do just more cardio, avoid sugar, alcohol completely and have enough proteins in my diet and eat much veggies and little fat.

Does this have a chance to work? Do you have any other suggestions?

  • I just found this article: sixpackfactory.com/cutting-out-carbs-is-it-dangerous
    – Sarah
    Jan 21, 2013 at 19:38
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    The basis of that author's argument appears to be "I don't think it's a great idea" and a bunch of "just-so" anecdotes
    – Affe
    Jan 22, 2013 at 21:12
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    Anecdotally, the five people I know who have six packs all eat pasta and carbs in general. Essentially, they live by the "if it fits your macros" mantra, where as long as they keep their calories in check and meet their macros, the diet is okay (in other words, the source doesn't matter, only the end macro split). This has worked well for me as well.
    – Moses
    Jan 29, 2013 at 0:33
  • Highly processed food should be avoided, however, 'pasta' is about consistence, it need not be a factory product. You can make pasta from anything edible at home. Nov 8, 2022 at 11:14

4 Answers 4


There are a lot of diets and a lot of claims. A lot of them are simply not true.

The problem with pasta, rice, potatoes and bread is that they are high in carbohydrates and by that high in calories.
If you want to lose weight (and by that reducing the fat that covers your abs), you should try to keep your caloric intake below what you burn each day. How you reach your daily limit does not really matter, as long as your diet doesn't lack crucial nutrients.

You should also note that people (and by that the articles they write) often think of different things when they talk about the same stuff. The bread I think about is certainly something completely different as someone else thinks about.

Cutting alcohol is a good idea, too, as it contains a lot of calories. Drinking less alcohol is always a good idea when looking from a health perspective.

Of course your abs won't develop themselves, I am not sure if cardio alone is enough. Try to incorporate some exercises into your workout that target the abs, at least in a compound style exercise. And always be wary of the spot reduction myth.

  • Thanks. I don't want to loose weight (BMI ~20). My fitness level is very high and I am doing a lot of strength especially ab exercises. I just want to get rid of the last belly fat to show my abs through.
    – Sarah
    Jan 21, 2013 at 19:48
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    Oh, the bread I think about is the same as you think about :-)...
    – Sarah
    Jan 21, 2013 at 19:52
  • @Sarah counts for rice and pasta, too. I think it is just a matter of time to get rid of the last layer of fat, I am just trying that myself.
    – Baarn
    Jan 21, 2013 at 19:56
  • @Informaficker many says it's impossible to achieve it without really restricting sugar and carbs and that it's not just about the calorie in and calorie out. Why is your advice contradictory to popular belief? Apr 5, 2013 at 18:01

Actually, dieting is a vast subject, and "simply cutting calories", reducing the amount of food you eat, without changing your eating patterns, does not necessairly work.

As for the proper way for losing weight, even among professionals there is no consensus. Maintaining the new weight is heven harder.

Also, youre quite a specific target - you want to drop your BF% very low (for men, abs are visible at around 10%BF, a bit more for women, but still equally hard to achieve) while most of the studies focus on obese people.

One of the theories pinpoints carbs as the main villain in the battle with fat, and after reading a whole lot of books and articles on the subject, Im willing to say that most of it makes sense.

Basically, high carb and sugar intake makes your insulin levels spike, and one of the roles of insulin is causing your body to store fat. A carb rich meal can rise your blood sugar level to a point where you cant use all of it as an energy source, and the insulin makes sure the rest is stored as fat - our glicogen stores are limited, but we can store almost unlimited fat. If your diet is very high on carbs, you may even build up partial insulin tolerance, which will keep your insulin very high just to preserve the normal blood sugar level.

This video quicky summarises the role of insulin:


http://eatingacademy.com/start-here - this is a great blog full of great articles. I suggest you surf around that site - youll finish having a lot of new knowledge. There are great articles about the ketogenic diet, the causality of calorie intake imbalance and much more. The author is an M.D and he managed to get his own six pack abs, so i think its a worthy read. Especially this article: http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/do-calories-matter tackles the problem of why does it matter what we eat and simple counting calories isnt exactly the best way to go.

Just to say, Im in the process of losing weight myself, and in around 3-4 months i lost over 20lbs, and mostly the changes in my diet would be cutting on carbs. Im still far away from my target BF%, but im not done yet :)

So while i understand your love for pasta, youd probably do better leaving it be, or at least restraining your intake. If you have to eat such carbs, try to eat small portions, even if more often - less of a insulin spike. Same, try to aim for low glicemic index products, for example try using full grain pasta isntead of the regular one. Try to educate yourself on the dieting matter, because the subject is quite vast and complex, and a simple "Ill eat less and it will be okay" is probably not a good idea.

  • 6
    Women carry more fat than men in different areas, such as breast tissue, so their abs are visible at a higher fat percentage than men. 10% or less is not really recommended for most women as you can start having complications such as amenorrhea.
    – JohnP
    Jan 22, 2013 at 14:40
  • Actually, there is no magic going on here. You consume less calories since you probably over ate on carbs to begin with. But there is nothing in fat and protein that makes you lose more fat (or less fat on carbs). So this is just plain wrong. Among scientists there is quite a lot of concesuses, this is one of them. It is quite easy, first law of thermodynamic. Jan 22, 2013 at 18:44
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    What I agree on though is the sustainability and adherence to diet. Whatever makes you stick to the plan in the long run is good regardless of how you do it. This is where cutting down carbs is good. But there is still no magic going on, and there is still nothing inherently "bad" with carbs. Eating more protein keeps you more satiated, which makes you eat less calories. However, eating carbs before training have shown to lower cortisol, so eating carbs for someone who trains is actually a good thing. Jan 23, 2013 at 12:42
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    I would point out that extended comments such as this are not recommended, and should have been taken to chat instead.
    – JohnP
    Jan 23, 2013 at 14:59
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    I can't keep it to myself: Twinkie Diet.
    – Baarn
    Jan 24, 2013 at 18:23

Why not try a body recomposition program.

A well-defined six pack is well-built muscles and a low fat percentage. A way to attain this is to eat 500kcal above maintenance levels on training days and 500kcal below maintenance on non-training days, training each other day so that the net balance is zero over the week.

To build the muscles you need to hit them with hypertrophy training. Cardio is detrimental towards that goal. It puts a lot of stress on your body which really should be resting and building muscles.

Try to eat somewhere around 1.5g protein per kg lean body mass, which also helps towards building muscles. As long as you hit your protein, the rest can be pasta, rice or whatever you like to eat which helps you keep the diet plan.

As long as you are in a net equivalence, or in net deficit, This will, albeit slowly, gain you some muscles and lose fat, leading towards a six pack.

  • Why no high impact cardio?
    – Sarah
    Jan 22, 2013 at 20:12
  • It will put quite a lot of stress on your body. If you want to gain a little mass (or even keep mass) it will most likely be detrimental towards that goal. Also, unless you are seriously well trained it will most likely be too hard training pushing you towards overtraining. Jan 22, 2013 at 21:33

Having visible abs is all about having low body fat, and having low body fat is all about eating fewer calories than your body consumes in a day. It doesn't matter (much) what foods you eat, as long as you're eating fewer calories.

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    Not true. What you eat is all a BIG difference in body composition. You can lose weight and lose half of it on lean muscle mass. Aint it a lot better to lose mostly fat? A high carb low protein diet with acute calorie intake restrictions is a sure way to lose muscle mass, ESPECIALLY taking into account that Sarah said she's doing strength training in one of the comments. Ill link some articles on the topic later
    – K.L.
    Jan 22, 2013 at 12:18
  • She said in the original that she intended to make sure she had enough protein in her diet. It's entirely possible to eat at a deficit, eat high-carb foods, and get enough protein. Jan 22, 2013 at 14:47
  • @DocFaustus - There is a large difference between what you wrote in your comment, and what you stated in your "answer", which was basically "Eat anything you want, as long as it's a deficit."
    – JohnP
    Jan 22, 2013 at 16:33

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