You can forget about the idea that to lose abdominal fat you need to do a daily session of abs. Unfortunately, doing ab exercises contributes little to nothing for fat loss. To get a perfect six-pack, you need to learn how to combine 5 factors: adequate diet, ab exercises, aerobic workout, resting and supplementation, if necessary.
1. Eat more frequently and control the amounts you eat. Losing weight is not a synonym of stopping to eat or skipping meals, so adopt the habit of doing 5 – 6 meals a day – mandatory. During digestion, you spend energy and, by dividing calories into small meals during the day, you’re keeping your metabolism active and you’re reducing the symptoms of hunger in short periods of time.
2. Choose your foods wisely. Give priority to foods with low glycemic index (in order to decrease the chances of having the energy excess converted into fat) and avoid being really hungry when it’s time for the main meals.
3. Exclude every processed food from your diet. When you really feel like eating sweets, try to eat a piece of fruit instead of processed foods like cakes, biscuits, cereal bars, bread, etc. Fruits like melon, cantaloupe, watermelon and strawberries are composed by a great amount of water and contain a reduced amount of sugar and calories. By eating these healthy foods, you’re satiating you’re cravings without ruining your diet. Plus, you keep hydrated.
4. Prioritize healthy fats. Accumulated fats are provoked by the excess of carbs. Healthy fats provide energy, promote muscle growth and teach the body how to turn fat into energy. You can find them in: fish, meat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado and dried fruits (nuts, cashew, almonds, hazelnuts, etc).
5. Drink, at least, 3L of water per day to keep hydrated and to detox your body. A good technique to reach your daily goal: drink 1.5L of water until lunch and 1.5L until you go to sleep. You can choose drinks like tea, coffee or natural juices.
6. Eliminate every type of refined sugars and sweeteners.
7. To make up for the calorie deficit, you need protein. Protein shakes may help you speed up the weight loss process and control the glycaemia and the appetite. A study developed in 2008, published by The Journal of Nutrition, stated that individuals who include protein shakes in their diet have lost a bigger amount of fat than those who simply ingested the same amount of calories, but with no shakes. Give preference to whey protein, because it’s considered the highest-quality protein in the market. The recommended daily dosage is 2g per kg of body weight. You should divide the total value and distribute it in your meals throughout the day.
8. Do not work out on an empty stomach, because that decreases the chances of converting fat into energy and the result: you’ll burn less calories during recovery.
9. Make sure you take the right amount of fiber (at least 25g a day). The consumption of fiber helps to control sugar levels in the blood and to regulate insulin levels. A low fiber consumption contributes to an increase in abdominal fat. When ingested, the fiber forms some kind of gel in the stomach, filling it, delaying food digestion and prolonging the feeling of satiety.
10. Reduce the ingestion of vegetables. Eating a great amount of vegetables may lead to abdominal bloating and provokes gas – especially if you’re not used to a diet that includes beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
11. Reduce the ingestion of carbs. It is recommended that you take in the lowest dosage of carbs before you go to bed so you can improve the quality of sleep and recovery, in order to help reduce cortisol and body fat. Sweet potatoes and apples are two great carb sources that can be eaten at dinner.
Control the amount of calories you ingest daily. If your daily energy need is, for instance 2500 calories and if you’re ingesting 3000, you won’t see any results, even if you’re following every diet we’ve mentioned above.
The body burns fat as a whole, that is, the fat used for the production of energy may come from any part of the body and not necessarily the part you’re working on.
1. The most efficient way to help eliminate intra-abdominal fat is to follow this combination: diet + cardio. You can choose from: running on the treadmill, taking cycling classes, using the elyptical, swimming, playing basketball, squash, do high intensity interval training, body pump, jump, step, martial arts (muay thai, jiu-jitsu, krav maga, boxing, etc.), rope jumping. The important thing is to make the body spend calories so it is able to activate glycogen and fat stores.
2. Do plank exercises. This way you’ll strengthen your abs, making them slimmer and more defined, without bloating them.
Basic plank exercise
This is an easy exercise that can be adjusted according to the person’s physical ability.
– Lie down on top of an exercise mat with your head facing the floor.
– Place your elbows and forearms on the ground and form a bridge over your toes and forearms, keeping the shoulders and the quad aligned.
– Focus your strength on the abdominal area and hold on to that position. To increase the level of difficulty, you can lift one of the legs. To decrease difficulty, put your knees on the floor.
If you’re a beginner, stay in that position for about 15 to 20 seconds. If you’re at a more advanced level, stay in that position for 30 seconds. Challenge: try to get to 3 minutes in that position.
READ ALSO: 8 common mistakes while working out your abs
Sleep more. The old saying that you need go to bed early and get up early as well will do wonders for your body composition and your mood. A study developed by the Harvard University, in the US, analized 68 thousand people and stated that, those who slept less than 5 hours a night weighed 2.4kg more and were at bigger risk of suffering from obesity than those who slept more than 7 hours. Not sleeping well, even if it’s just for one night, is enough to increase brain activity and to stimulate the searching for compensation in food. Investigators from the University of Chicago, in the US, stated that people who don’t sleep enough hours take in about 220 more calories a day.
– Choose a Branched Chain Amino Acid supplement with leucine to promote visceral weight loss, to increase muscle mass and to level up your performance.
– Chose an Omega 3 Supplement to make your cells more responsive to insuline.
– What to do to fight that layer of subcutaneous fat in the abdomen that keeps you from showing your muscles? Make sure your levels of vitamin D are above 40 ng/ml. In case they’re not, you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement, because low levels of this type of vitamin are associated with an increase in abdominal fat. More than that, you can stimulate weight loss by taking a good thermogenic.
Fernando Ribeiro, 13 dicas para um abdómen de sonho, 4th of November 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Fernando Ribeiro, 28 dicas de Charles Poliquin para perder gordura abdominal, 3rd of August 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Jon Huston, Abdominal Training: The Finishing Touch, 20th of November 2002, translation and adaptation of the original version
Marcos Sabino, Como perder gordura abdominal e definir o abdómen?, 1st of August 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Marcos Sabino, Fazer abdominais ajuda a perder gordura na barriga?, 27th of June 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Vispute, SS. et. al., The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat, J Strength Cond Res. September 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version