Don’t get fooled and fall for the hype. Getting a midsection that sets you apart from the pack requires the traits of practicality and patience. Ripped six-pack abs – the ones that cause jealousy – are unquestionably the most desired visual benefit of hard-training fitness enthusiasts. Sure, it’s impressive to have bigger pecs, arms, or legs, but most practical gym-goers are seeking out visual impact from head to toe. A big, bulky physique doesn’t look right when it’s intersected with a big, bulging stomach. Got abs? Now you own the trophy of all trophies!
Rule #1: Cut Your Calories By 20%
On average, most individuals consume about 17 calories per pound of bodyweight each day. It’s important to cut back the amount of food you’re eating to create a slight caloric deficit, encouraging your body to tap into body fat for energy to make up the difference. Most individuals should reduce their overall calorie consumption about 20% during the first two weeks, taking in about 14 calories per pound of body weight each day. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., you should be eating around 2,800 calories a day (200 x 14 = 2,800). You can reduce your calories another 20% if you’re not losing at least 1% of your body weight per week.
Rule #2: Eat Five Solid Meals & One Shake
Establishing a regular meal cadence of five solid meals a day, rather than 3 meals a day, helps your body experience a slight increase in calorie-burning because every time you eat, your body uses energy (calories) to break down, digest, and absorb the food you eat. Consuming multiple meals helps lower cortisol levels (a catabolic hormone), which results in slightly elevated testosterone levels (a muscle-building hormone). The higher your testosterone levels, the greater your muscle growth and more muscle leads to more calorie burning. My mantra: “Eat solid food if you want to look solid.” Immediately after an intense workout consume a liquid meal consisting of fast-acting proteins and carbs in the form of whey-isolate and carb powder such at Karbolyn, Vtargo, maltodextrin, dextrose, or Gatorade. We consume fluids after our workout because the nutrients are delivered faster than whole food.
Rule #3: It’s Paramount You Eat “Clean” Carbohydrates
Not all carbs are created equal (too bad)! In fact, many “natural” carbs are fast-digesting (glucose/sugar-based). When you consume this type of carb, they trigger an insulin spike that encourages bodyfat storage. Instead, slow-digesting carbs are better because they reduce your insulin response – they will also stay with you longer, preventing hunger pains, controlling appetite, and preventing crashing during your workouts. Carbs will also give your physique a full, strong, and healthy appearance – not a weak and soft look. Consume in the form of a slow-digesting, long-lasting carb like oatmeal, brown rice, Ezekiel cereal, quinoa, whole-wheat breads or pastas, whole fruits, yams, sweet-potatoes, and whole vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, and squash. In addition to recommendations above, include high-fiber foods such as beans and lentils, as well as low-fructose fruits. Your carb intake should be approximately 40% of your daily intake starting out, and can be adjusted up or down slightly, based on the speed of your metabolism.
Rule #4: Be Deserving Of Your Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are not the enemy when it comes to burning fat: too many calories and low- quality food is the enemy. Time your carbohydrates around the times of the day you deserve them – 1 to 1.5 hours before you workout, immediately after your workout, one hour after you workout, and four hours after you workout. This carbohydrate timing strategy will ensure you refuel your muscle glycogen stores and have plenty in reserve for your daily tasks.
Rule #5: Bump Up Your Protein Intake
Consuming 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight every day, spread out through the day, is your goal. This works out to approximately 40% of your daily caloric intake. Ensure your protein comes in a variety of sources to optimize digestion and absorption. By providing a steady stream of amino acids, you’re supplying your muscles with a buffer to prevent breakdown. These aminos will be used for physiological processes, and your body is much less likely to break down muscle tissue for use of energy, which can occur as you get ultra lean. Maintaining a high protein diet helps increase your metabolic rate, meaning your body needs more calories just to maintain its bodyweight. The best news is that this also makes it easier for your body to burn fat. For optimal results, avoid eating the same protein source more than once a day. Strive to eat at least six different sources of protein each day. You can include different types of white fish such as cod, haddock, sea bass, halibut, flounder, tilapia, sole, and turbot. When it comes to meat, try to rotate bison, buffalo patties, chicken, lean beef, elk, ostrich, venison, wild boar, turkey, kangaroo, and even antelope (many of these meats can be found in exotic meat stores). Finally, including egg whites, cottage cheese, whole eggs, and whey-isolate protein will ensure you never experience diet boredom!
Rule #6: Eat More Fat To Burn Fat
A huge mistake is going too low with your fat intake. You need to consume a certain amount of dietary fat for satiety (making you feel full), hormone production, and general sense of well-being. Strive to get at least 20% of your daily calories from fat. Consider fat your “happy” food – cut your fat and you’ll feel like a truck ran over you. When it comes to fat selection, the rule is the same as proteins and fats: variety is key. Find a balance between a few great oils to receive the benefits of each. Macadamia oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are excellent. Include whole food sources such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, and avocados. To optimize hormones, it’s best to never consume fats with carbohydrates in the same meal.