In my experience as a trainer, losing weight and building chiseled abs are two top goals for most people. They make these points clear during the first fitness assessment.
I’m good with those goals in general. How you go about reaching those goals---that’s usually the sticking points.
While pounds on the scale may be your primary concern, my main focus will be on how much body fat you have. Why? Your health comes first. Narrowed downed further, I’m concerned with how much belly fat you have.
As a general rule, your waist-to-height ratio should be below 50%. This means if you are 70 inches tall, your waist should measure below 35 inches. For belly fat measurements, your waist is measured at the belly button.
According to the International Journal of Obesity, belly fat increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and premature death. This is mainly due to the dangerous visceral fat located in the abdomen and vital organs, such as the liver. It can also infiltrate your muscles and heart. Even if you are skinny, you can have visceral fat. Some call this skinny-fat. The technical term is normal weight obese.
Here are 6 things you should be more concerned with than 6-pack abs:
1. Improve your overall health. Do you know your health numbers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood fat levels? You may need to schedule that doctor’s visit for a full physical.
2. Adopt a healthy, managed meal plan that you can maintain. This will include trial and error because the same food item can have a different effect on two people.
3. Develop and/or maintain healthy lifestyle habits. This is really common sense but often neglected. You can have normal body weight and be unhealthy.
4. Do regular strength training and interval cardio sessions to build muscle mass and burn body fat. If you want tight, 6-pack abs, you must take a total body approach to your fitness program. Doing 500 ab crunches every day won’t give you what you want.
5. What is your total body fat percentage and where are you fat? Your trainer will take your measurements during your initial visit. Regular body fat measurements will tell you if your body is changing to lean which is the key to keeping the weight off for good.
6. You have postural problems that will lead to injuries, such as low back pain. Your trainer will identify them for you along with a program to correct them.
Since nutrition is so critical for you to have any long-term success with health, fat loss and weight loss, you need to focus on building foundational eating habits.
Your body’s metabolism needs all 3 macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) to operate properly. So, diets that are very low in carbohydrates or fats will not help your body in the long-term.
And, starvation diets are always off limits. They will ultimately leave you fatter and frustrated.
Set your daily calorie intake based on your basal metabolic rate, your activity level and your goals. This way, you won't eat too much or too little. Maintaining the right amount of calorie deficit on most days (burning more calories than you consume) is the key to burning fat and losing weight.
And, here are some general eating tips to help control your calories and burn fat:
a. Eat small meals every 3-4 hours. Eat mainly whole, natural foods with one ingredient—the food itself.
b. Eat protein with each meal for satiety and muscle repair/building.
c. Eat 25-35 grams of fiber each day for satiety and health.
d. Limit sugary foods and drinks.
e. Limit processed foods, fast foods and foods in a box or bag.
f. Drink alcohol in moderation because it increases appetite and limits fat burning.
g. Drink plenty of water every day. It will help you eat less and help your body function better. Drink about half your weight in water every day. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water each day.
h. Get enough deep sleep each night (7-9 hours). This helps regulate hormones and appetite. Growth hormone is especially important for muscle building.
Above all, don’t look for a quick fix to your weight problems. It will never work. That’s how you build your chiseled abs!
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