The age-old saying “great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym” or rather, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet” has never been more true than in the current world we live in today, diets ridden with additives and increasingly high levels of sugar and saturated fats. And so, whether you’re trying to rid your love handles, or bringing the last row of abs out, the adage above stays true – seeing abs is 70% diet, 30% exercise.
Reality is, performing endless sets of crunches and countless situps isn’t going to break free the chiseled abs hiding behind your bubbly tummy – whilst it is important to strengthen and build your core muscles, the real work begins in the kitchen, and being consistent is how you maintain those results. Eating healthy helps break down fatty tissue building around your stomach, and brings out the hard work you’ve put in at the gym.
Basic Scenario: Kate springs out of bed one morning, exclaiming, “this is the day I make things happen!” – a scenario all too common to many of us. She grabs her bottle of water, eats her breakfast consisting of two boiled egg whites, a slice of rye bread and a banana – and shoots off to the gym. Kate sets herself an achievable yet distant target, and aims to burn 500 calories on the treadmill during her morning workout session. 45 minutes later, Kate looks up at her treadmill log, drenched in sweat realising she’s reached her target. Ecstatic about her progress, she starts on home planning her post-workout lunch. Just as Kate reaches for her door, her attention is drawn to her ringing phone – it’s her best friend, Sammy. Long story short, Kate tells Sammy all about her new personal best, and the two agree that a quick celebration is an excellent idea. Kate orders a ‘healthy’ chicken sandwich, white bread, breaded chicken, ridden with mayo – and opts for a large mocha. Kate arrives home content with her progress ready to tackle the next meal for the day. But, has she really made any progress?
As far as the calorie in, calorie out debate, Kate’s sandwich (350 calories) and her large mocha (320 calories) equates to 670 calories. Keeping in mind her extensive morning session burnt 500 calories, slightly less than her innocent catch-up with Sammy. And whilst I’m not necessarily suggesting that the occasional cheat meal will immediately revoke all progress – it is, however, important to understand this concept if you plan to take advantage of the hard work you put in at the gym.
I love the misnomer, “let’s do abs today, I need to shed some of this belly fat” – but the reality is, anatomically, each and every one of us has an underlying genetic six or four pack – and making your abs visible relates back to having your diet in check.
Below are out tips to help flatten out that midsection, minus the grueling ab sessions week in, week out:
1. Commit to your diet – And it is an essential tip, whilst we are not suggesting that you shouldn’t have the occasional cheat meal – ensure it is included in your calorie counting and that the proceeding gym session makes up for it
2. Remove refined foods – Or rather, know what you’re putting into your food. This includes white flour which is essentially wheat stripped of minerals, and bleached to remove the otherwise yellow colour. Gluten-free, brown and whole grain flour are an important aspect of your diet to eliminate. This also includes refined sugar and salt which translates to excess bloating. As alternatives to sugar try honey – and instead of the usual table salt, try sea salt
3. Healthy fats – Fats!? Yep, that’s right! Adding healthy fats to your diet including avocado, olive oil and nuts will make a more than noticeable difference in your day to day activities and ability to lose fat. The fats will increase the ability of your body to burn fat quickly – and whilst a maximum of 20% fat intake per day is recommended, they are definitely an essential portion of your diet. For more of an insight into this point – Good Fats, Bad Fats | Which to Choose and their Benefits?
4. Increase lean protein – Chicken, fish and yoghurt are all lean protein sources, low in fat and essential in a muscle building diet.
5. Water – It amazes me just how few people understand the benefits of consuming consistent levels of water. It helps flush out toxins, remove sodium from your body and in turn assist with acne and and excess bloat.
And remember, as always, consistency is key to seeing and maintaining results.