The 6-pack represents being in top shape. No bodybuilding competitor would step on stage without it. To achieve a 6-pack, your diet will need to be adjusted to achieve this degree of definition.
Tips to Get Ripped Abs
- Take Whey Protein and Leucine. Whey protein helps build muscle tissue which is metabolically active. So the more you have, the more fat you will burning, even at rest. Leucine – a branched chain amino acid is one of the ingredients in whey protein. By itself, it can stimulate muscle hypertrophy but is also able to stimulate the oxidation of fatty acids1. Leucine has also been shown to maintain stable glycaemic control2 which prevents vast changes in hunger levels. Whey protein is able to increase satiety so along with the effects of leucine will make you less hungry and decrease your chances of bingeing which could wreck your chances of achieving that 6-pack.
- Eat Dairy Products. These are renowned for bone-building and lowering of blood pressure. Dairy products also contain vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption. High calcium intake from dairy foods has demonstrated success in assisting fat loss3. A recent 2011 article from Australia’s Curtin University of Technology showed that higher calcium and vitamin D intake at breakfast was able to increase fat oxidation (burning) and diet induced thermogenesis (increased metabolic rate) over the day and also decreased spontaneous energy intake throughout a 24 hour period.4 By burning more fat, increasing your metabolism and snacking less often, your chances of getting lean for the comp increase dramatically. In saying this be sure your dairy is low fat versions as dairy typically can be high in fat. So the low fat versions in controlled quantities is recommended.
- Eat Large Quantities of Food. Consume foods with low energy density, i.e. foods that are low in calories but generous in their total volume. By doing so, you will feel fuller for longer and decrease the chance of eating inappropriate high energy foods which have the potential to increase fat storage in the body making your hard earned abs more flabby. So try to include soup broths, non-starchy vegetables, fruits or protein shakes with water or milk to fill you up and put you on the right track for shredded abs.
- Eat Often. Eat often as calories are burned due to the thermogenic effect of eating. By skipping meals you are likely to overeat at the next meal. Eating 5-7 portion controlled meals a day will help you stay full and increase your fat burning abilities.5 Regular intake of protein with these regular meals helps maintain nitrogen balance thus enhancing your basal metabolic rate and putting you in an anabolic state, priming you for muscle gains.
- Drink Green Tea. Green tea and green tea extract has been shown to be able to increase fat oxidation during moderate intensity exercise in healthy young men6. It has also been shown with in vitro studies to inhibit the absorption of fats into the body7. Less fat being absorbed means less fat being stored in the body. So have a cup or two today.
- Exclude Trans Fats From Your Diet. Trans fats put you at risk of coronary heart disease and increase your amount of abdominal fat deposition. Research has shown that these fats are carcinogenic.8 Trans fats are commonly found in commercially baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (including doughnuts and french fries), as well as margarine. So do yourself, your bodybuilding goals and your abs a favour and cut these fats out of your diet.
- Ensure You Are Getting Essential Fatty Acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are associated with many benefits including a healthy heart and skin, less likelihood of depression and decreasing pain from joint inflammation amongst others. Studies have also shown intakes of omega 3 fatty acids can shift metabolism – reducing fat deposition and increasing lean muscle tissue accretion9. In foods they are found in fish such as salmon and herring, but can be conveniently taken in the form of fish oil supplements.
- Sugar Free Products Can Be Deceptive. Lots of sugar free sweets and sugar free products have sugar alcohols in them. Because they are indigestible in the body, it can lead to bloating, diarhhoea, flatulence and discomfort, none of which would be helpful for being able to see visible abs. Look out for these on ingredient labels and they are listed as ending in ‘-ol’ such as sorbitol and xylitol.
- Minimise Consumption of Sweet Foods And High Salt Foods. Generally foods that are highly sweet or highly salty are going to be junk foods and are not great for the body or for health. More so than not, they will also be high in calories which could lead to increased fat deposits around your body especially your midsection. Minimise the amount of sweet processed foods that you have to keep your blood glucose under control and to stop large changes in your hunger. If you feel like something sweet, go for low calorie, naturally sweet foods such as fruit. Salt loves water and consuming high salt foods can lead to bloating and water retention, both of which will be uncomfortable and prevent you from having a lean, ripped look and cover your abs. Avoid obviously salty foods such as cheese, chips, salted nuts and savoury biscuits. But also be aware of hidden salts in foods such as bread and dairy products.
- Cut Out Alcohol. While a night out often involves alcohol, if you want awesome abs, you might want to reconsider how much you’re drinking. Not only does it offer empty calories but it can lower your testosterone and growth hormone levels10, essential for muscle building. So stay away from alcohol if you want your abs to show. But if you must have a drink, have a water in between drinks or drink spirits with diet mixers instead of beer to reduce the effects of alcohol and reduce the amount of calories you’re having.
6 Pack Strategy
A 6-pack requires high level dietary control. Combined with appropriate training and cardio, the right foods and supplements will help you on the way to achieving a flat and defined tummy as a reward for your effort. Thermogenic supplements can be incorporated into you supplementation to assist with cutting up to achieve a great six pack.
1. Sun X and Zemel MB. ‘Leucine and calcium regulate fat metabolism and energy partitioning in murine adipocytes and muscle cells’. Lipids 2007: 42(4): pp 297-305.
2. Layman DK, Walker DA. ‘Potential importance of leucine in treatment of obesity and the metabolic syndrome’. J Nutr 2006;136:319S–323S.
3. Melanson EL, Sharp TA, Schneider J, Donahoo WT, Grunwald GK, Hill O. ‘Relation between calcium intake and fat oxidation in adult humans’. Int J Obes Relat Metab disord 2003; 27: 196–203.
4. Delfos CSPW, Soares M. ‘Diet induced thermogenesis, fat oxidation and food intake following sequential meals: Influence of calcium and vitamin D’. Clin Nutr 2011 January: Epub ahead of print.
5. Louis-Sylvestre J, Lluch A, Neant F, Blundell JE. ‘Highlighting the positive impact of increasing feeding frequency on metabolism and weight management.’ Forum Nutr. 2003;56:126-8.
6. Venables MC, Hulston CJ, Cox, HR and Jeukendrup AE. ‘Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation and glucose tolerance in healthy humans’. 2008 March: 87(3): pp 778-784
7. Juhel C et al. ‘Green tea extract (AR25®) inhibits lipolysis of triglycerides in gastric and duodenal medium in vitro’. The Journ. Of Nutr. Bio 2000 January: 11(1): pp 45-51.
8. Chavarro JE., et al. A Prospective Study of Trans-Fatty Acid Levels in Blood and Risk of Prostate Cancer’. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. 2008 January: 17(1):pp95–101
9. Buckley JD, Howe PRC. ‘Long-Chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids May Be Beneficial for Reducing Obesity—A Review’. Nutrients 2010 December: 2:pp1212-1230.
10. Tentler JJ et al. ‘Ethanol, growth hormone and testosterone in peripubertal rats’. Journal of Endocrinology 1997: 152: pp 477-487.