Ripped abs – every fitness conscious person wants them, but few know exactly how to get them, and do so healthfully, without sacrificing lean muscle. The secrets are out – here’s how.
Eat fewer starchy carbohydrates.Reducing your intake of starchy carbohydrates – potatoes, yams, whole grains, and brown rice, for example – is an amazing way to start stripping away fat. Metabolically, this dietary reduction helps shift your body into a fatburning mode. Your body simply starts burning fat for energy, since there is a deficit of carbs in your body. How much of a reduction will work? A good rule of thumb is to adjust your carbohydrate-to-protein ratio to be-tween 1 to 1 or 1.5 to 1.Be aware that one problem with reduc-ing carbohydrate intake is a potential decline in your energy levels. To com-pensate, try supplementing your diet with CapTri®, our medium-chain tri-glyceride oil (MCT oil). This is a special type of lipid that provides quality calories and, unlike conventional dietary fats, is not likely to be stored as body fat. Calorie for calorie, CapTri® contributes less to body weight gain (fat gain) than carbohydrates or conventional dietary fat. Think of Cap-Tri® as an immediate energy source that will get burned before the body has time to store it. It is an excellent metabolic-support supplement. After a few days, increase to one tablespoon with each meal. During hard training, many athletes go as high as two to three tablespoons per meal – a level they have found to be beneficial.
Avoid or limit alcohol consumption. Beer, wine and hard liquor are high in sugar and empty calories you don’t need. In fact, each gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared to 4 calories per gram for other carbs. Alcohol also stimulates your appetite. Plus, new research shows that heavy drinkers tend to gain weight in their abdomen area, giving credence to the idea of a “beer belly.” When there’s alcohol in your system, the liver has to work overtime to process it, so it doesn’t have adequate time to process fat. A study conducted at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland found that the addition of only 3 oz of alcohol per day to the diet resulted in about one third less fat being processed. You can avoid drinking alcohol and still remain social by sipping on juice, seltzers, club soda or sparkling mineral water on the rocks with a citrus twist.
Shun fructose.Of course, I’ve been saying this for decades. Now new research shows that fructose, found naturally in sugar and as high fructose corn syrup in sodas and junk food, promotes belly fat. The reason for this is because the calories from fruit come in the formof fructose, which is quickly and eas-ily converted to fat in the liver. Excess calories from any carbohydrate source can be converted to fat. The enzyme that regulates whether carbs are stored as glycogen or fat is phosphofructokinase I. The job of this enzyme is to shuttle carbs into glycogen stores until full, then switch the flow of carbs from glycogen synthesis to fat synthesis. Fructose, however, skips this step in the liver where it is converted to fat.
Manage stress. Stress churns out and elevates cortisol, a hormone. If cortisol stays elevated, it directs fat storage to the abdominal area. If you’re like most people, you’ll need to let off some steam during stressful times, and exercise is the perfect stress reliever. Plus, it helps to burn off fat. So why not engage in a little additional aerobics to keep stress under control? Do a bit more of your usual aerobic activity or try some new types just for fun. Spend an afternoon at an ice or roller skating rink. Whack a ball around the racquetball court. If the weather permits, hit the ski slopes, try your hand at crosscountry skiing or rent some snowshoes and go exploring. Or get in the pool and swim a few laps.
Increase the duration and/or frequency of your usual aerobic exercise routine .Duration refers to the length of time that you work out. It’s amazing how many additional calories you’ll consume by pushing your body just a little longer. Increase your exercise frequency too: working out more times per week to obtain a greater caloric expenditure and burn more fat. In one study, men who worked out at moderate intensity on exercise bikes six days a week, twice a day, for 100 days lost an average of nearly 18 lbs—and most of it was pure fat. Although you don’t have to work out this much to keep your six pack ripped, these findings demonstrate that increased workout frequency translates into more fat loss.Aerobic exercise, even something as simple as walking is great for obtaining and keeping ripped abs. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, put a group of men and women, aged 60 to 70 on a nine to 12-month exercise program that consisted of walking or jogging. On average, the subjects exercised 45 minutes several times a week. By the end of the study, both the men and the women had lost weight. But get this: Most of their weight was shed from the abdominal area. This all goes to show that a simple exercise program like walking or jogging can melt off abdominal fat, which creeps on as we get older. From a health perspective, this type of exercise — by fighting waistline flab — may reduce the risk of diseases linked to abdominal fat. Compared to other fat storage sites on the body, the abdominal region is “lipolytically active.” This means it gives up fat easily. A group of Canadian researchers put this to the test. In their study, 13 obese women exercised moderately for 90 minutes four to five times a week for 14 months. At the end of the study, the women underwent CT scans to detect any changes in body fat patterning. More flab was lost from the abdominal region than from the mid-thigh, proving that ab fat is easily burned with a consistent, long term exercise program. Always concentrate on beefing up your aerobic intensity. Make the effort count. For optimum fatburning, you should exercise at a level that is hard enough to raise your heart rate to 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. (You can calculate your desired heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying that number by 70 or 80 percent.)
Cut the bad fats. Cutting fatty foods such as red meats, other fatty cuts, butter, and margarine from your daily diet should be part of a total plan to zap tummy fat. Interestingly, when a group of 124 women reduced dietary fat, they each lost 10 to 15 pounds, and more than half the women lost body fat mostly from their abdomen. See the Parrillo Nutrition Manual for how much fat to include in your diet, including essential fatty acids.
Stop yo-yo dieting.Be forewarned about dieting: Going on and off a reducing diet can make your waistline look like the equator. The proof is in some interesting research conducted at Yale University several years ago. Researchers there studied premenopausal women who had gone up and down in weight many times during their lives — a result of repeated efforts at dieting. What they found was intriguing: Those women with a history of on-again, off-again dieting and fluctuations in weight tended to gain fat mostly in the abdominal region. In other words: When fat returns after you go off a diet, it returns to your waistline. It’s best to not diet too drastically, but rather follow a healthy nutritional plan, like the Parrillo Nutrition Program.
Work your six-pack. True, waistline exercises will firm up abdominal muscles underneath the fat and wake up sluggish circulation so fat-burning can proceed. So don’t neglect your ab work. Oneof my favorites is the knee –up. You’ll need a dip stand to perform this exercise. Facing away from the stand, hoist yourself up between thetwo parallel dipping bars and sup-port yourself there with your legs straight. Bend your knees and pull your thighs in toward your midsection. Return to the starting position and repeat. Perform as many repetitions as you can.Good looks aren’t the only benefit you get from your ab workout. The four sets of muscles that make up your abdominal column work to-gether with your back muscles to help you sit straight, stand tall, and move with ease. If you’ve ever had a low-back problem, you know that one of the first rules in restoring health and preventing future back ailments is to strengthen your ab muscles. Remember too: Trimming that rollaround the middle lowers your riskfactor for heart disease, high bloodpressure, diabetes, some cancers,and many other life-shortening diseases. There’s a healthy payoff for anyone who gives the abdominals individual attention.
Rodin J, Radke-Sharpe N, Rebuffe-Scrive M, Greenwood MR:Weight cycling and fat distribution.International Journal of ObesityApril 1990;14(4):303-310.Kohrt WM, Obert KA, HolloszyJO: Exercise training improves fatdistribution patterns in 60 to 70-year-old men and women. Journalof Gerontology July 1992;47(4):M99-105.