Six-pack-abs, the ultimate symbol of physical fitness is on everyone’s wish list. Yet, they are the hardest to attain. Learn how to structure your diet to sculpt and retain your abs.
The washboard abs are the reward of getting strong, being athletic and rocking in the gym. Even for the most competitive athletes and body builders, abs ebb and flow with a change in your workout and diet schedule. The elusive abs peek at a lower body fat percentage for both men and women. Obviously, for the shredded six-pack kind your body fat needs to go lower further.
Your abs are intimately linked to your body fat percentage and for a genuine reason. Believe it or not, all humans have washboard abs, but for most of us, it is hidden beneath a layer of fat. Whereas for an average male, body fat ranges between 18-24 percent, in women it goes up to 25-31 percent. The bare minimum body fat required for basic physical and physiological functions in men should not go below 2-5 percent and in women below 10-12 percent and this is the range around which bodybuilders are during the contest prep.
On the Holy Grail of washboard abs, several myths flourish. MuscleBlaze has the daunting task to deconstruct these myths.
One of the most believed myths is that umpteen crunches are an equivalent to well defined abs. This is not true. Your rectus abdominis, the scientific name for muscles that run the length of your abdomen constitutes predominantly of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
A set of eight to twelve repetitions, with enough resistance so that you reach the verge of failure by the time you do the 12th rep is more than enough to build these muscles. While for beginners, body weight provides ample resistance, as you grow stronger rely on weights to increase the resistance.
Crunches engage upper abs and leg raises recruit the lower abs. When you train your abs, use these ab exercises every alternate day. Though your abs recover faster from the strain of training, yet it makes sense to train your abdominals every alternate day to allow time for recovery.
The right diet for your abs
Since abs peek at a lower body fat percentage, your abs diet should concentrate on total fat lost and especially around the midsection. Along with the basic tips, like frequent eating, counting portion size, drinking lots of water and no carbs after 7pm to keep your metabolism high, you need to fine-tune your eating behaviour for quicker fat loss.
2. High protein diet along with a sensible mix of weight lifting and cardio is a must to maximize both muscle growth and fat loss.
A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism reported that subjects getting 40 percent of their calorie requirement from protein along with weightlifting and cardio lost more than twice body fat and more than twice abdominal fat as compared to subjects, getting 15 to 20 percent of their daily calorie share from proteins and following only cardio program.
Increasing protein share in your diet not only lowers carb content, but also keeps you sated for a longer duration and maintains more steady insulin levels. When you replace carbs with proteins it forces your body to burn more body fat for fuel.
2. Cycle carbs to fire your metabolism.
To drop your body fat percentage, you need to curtail carbs. The downside of a low carb diet is lowered energy levels, extreme food cravings and a drop in your resting metabolic rate. Try to put a bare minimum of 25 to 50 grams of carbs both before and after your workout sessions to get that energy spurt. Never omit vegetables as they package fiber and micronutrients in lean calorie format.
After every three to four weeks of low carb diet, you should have a high carb weekend to fire your metabolism. During your carb party eat nutrient dense carbs, like fruits, wholegrain bread, and pasta to stimulate insulin response that will enable shuttling of nutrients in your muscle cells and enable them to grow. Additionally, it will replenish muscle glycogen stores to fuel your cells.
Basically, for a low carb diet you need to replace grains with veggies and include grains in a high carb diet, however, you need to avoid starchy carbs before bedtime.
3. Do not forget fat for the ripped abs
Finally, you must not forget fat for washboard abs. Incorporate good fats such as olive, flax seed, fish oil into the diet. Exercise discretion and limit your fat intake to only a few grams per meal coming from the healthiest sources. Avoid fats prior and post work outs, as it can slow digestion and make you lethargic.
Most importantly, six-pack abs is a reward of a disciplined lifestyle, and it will stay that way. Rather than slaving for washboard abs, focus on getting stronger and muscular. Abs will follow.