You Are What You Eat
If you want a six-pack that really pops, you have to remember one important message: Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, you know that your body reacts in different ways to different foods plus when you eat is important. Here are sound principles on what to eat, when and why:
Eat six meals a day.
The idea behind this is that you maintain your body’s energy balance throughout the day, with no periods of ’starvation’ and none of the excess when the calories go straight to the fat stores.
Meals should not exceed 500 calories, but can of course be less.
So the lesson here is to eat breakfast soon after waking, and eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Food can be fairly simple, and yes, that visit to the great new Italian restaurant might be a bad idea until you have lost a few pounds.
Here is a sample timetable - if you work unusual hours, adjust to suit your period of being awake:
8 a.m. Breakfast
11 a.m. Snack
1 p.m. Lunch
4 p.m. Snack
6 p.m. Dinner
8 p.m. Snack
This may not be practical for every single day, but as a general guide, it will help you to look better on the beach. So what should these meals consist of? Here is a list of Power Foods, which should be incorporated into your daily diet:
Almonds and other nuts
Beans and legumes
Spinach and other green vegetables
Dairy (low fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
Instant oatmeal (no sweetener)
Turkey and other lean meats
Whole grain breads and cereals
Extra protein (whey powder)
Raspberries and other berries
I can almost hear you saying ’that’s all very well, but it’s hard enough to make time for three meals, let alone six’. The answer is to use smoothies as one or two of your meals. They are easy to make, and you can add berries, uncooked oatmeal, peanut butter or almond butter, milk, yogurt, whey powder, in whatever combination you like to make a delicious snack that will satisfy your cravings for sweet things. Generally a thick shake keeps hunger pains away longer than a thin one, even when the calorie content is the same. Making your shakes with yogurt adds a lot of calcium, which seems to help the body burn more fat.
Of course losing weight comes down to a balance between calories in and calories out, but if you follow these guidelines you can forget about counting calories - it’s boring, and will blunt your motivation.
Alcohol contains calories, as we all know - and Margaritas contain more than almost any other drink - but alcohol also makes you eat more by stimulating your appetite. So, for the few weeks that you need to get your abs to show, the drink of choice must be water - about 8 glasses a day (not 8 pints as some would have you believe). Water fills you up and stops hunger, keeps you hydrated and flushes toxins and waste products from your system. Stay off the booze for about 6 weeks if you are serious about your beach body.
But, once a week, have a meal that breaks all the rules - eat pizza, wings or whatever you crave, even one or two drinks. This one cheat meal will stop you from giving up before the end of the six weeks, and it will taste SO good! Keep this cheat meal for one specific day of the week, and reward yourself for sticking to the regime for the rest of that week. And oddly enough, eating way more than normal once in a while actually boosts your metabolism, so you burn even more fat. The science is too complicated for this article, but just make sure that you don’t have more than one cheat meal a week.
These guidelines are based on the assumption that you are in reasonable shape (15% body fat or less for men, 20% or less for women) and that you are not struggling with obesity. If you are, this is a good set of principles and will help you lose fat, but don’t expect a six-pack quite so quickly. And of course regular exercise is essential if you want to burn calories and boost your metabolism.