The first step to winning your battle against the bulge is knowing your enemy. Enter our foolproof action plan to lose belly fat and reveal your abs for the everyday guy. It’ll save your waistline — and maybe even your life.
You see, belly fat is different from other kinds of fat. It doesn’t just sit there; it’s active. Lying in striking distance of your vital organs, it secretes a host of dangerous toxins into your body which increase your risk of diabetes & heart disease. And it gets worse – a bulging belly also spells bad news in the bedroom.
It’s time to take back your belly! Being a guy, demolishing that stubborn roll around your middle can be tough. But, by sticking to our action plan, that spare tire won’t stand a chance.
It all starts here with the flat-belly equation (resistance training + cardiovascular conditioning + healthy eating = a flat belly). A trifecta of essential ingredients, which on their own aren’t all that surprising, but when combined create a metabolic firestorm that will flatten your belly, improve your health & build lean-muscle in record time. To kick things off, we’ve tackled the two biggest pitfalls for flat belly success. Take heed and never let them stand in your way again!
HIT OR MYTH: SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION
If you listened to all the flawed advice out there to lose stomach fat for men and uncover your abs you’d be popping every diet pill & doing upside-down crunches until you passed out. Here’s the absolute truth.
MYTH #1: CRUNCHES BURN BELLY FAT. There is no single best exercise to burn off your belly, least of all the crunch or sit-up. Not only do they sabotage your belly-busting efforts, they violate the body’s unwritten rules for effective and permanent fat loss. So until you’ve demolished your gut, consider your workouts a crunch-free zone.
When you exercise, your body burns blubber uniformly, not a from the targeted trouble spot over your stomach. So instead of peeling out dozens of crunches, your priority should be on decreasing your total body fat percentage – We show you the most effective strategies below!
MYTH #2: STARVING YOURSELF BURNS BELLY FAT. Starving yourself may cause quick weight loss at first – but fasting actually decreases the activity of the enzymes that release fat from the cells. In short, the less you eat, the more stubborn that spare-tyre becomes. But this doesn’t give you ticket to splurge on junk. A food quality restriction is in effect.
Think of your body the way you gas up your car. Fill it with the wrong fuel or let your tank run too low and your body will have no choice but to throttle back your fat-burning motor (known as your metabolism). The fix: Keep your tank topped with a steady influx of small-healthy meals. The result: You’ll stoke your metabolism and build a body that burns fat on autopilot.
NO GUT, ALL GLORY WITH H.I.I.T
Your life is ruled by the clock. So you need to find a way of eradicating your belly in the time at your disposal. How does this sound? A cardio workout that takes you to the limits of your fat-burning capacity in half your normal workout time. Welcome to the world of interval training, a turbocharged training style that ditches long, boring cardio, in favor of short, sharp high-intensity bursts of activity.
INTERVAL TRAINING EXAMPLE: Sprint for 20 seconds, jog for 10, repeat for four minutes. Repeat cycle three times with three minutes rest intervals in-between.
THE PAYOFF: Not only will you shave minutes of your workout, you’ll unleash a killer blow to your belly with a bout of extended post oxygen consumption (EPOC) where your metabolism continues to run in high-gear long after your workout’s over. The result? You’ll burn more blubber, faster and continue to do so while you chill-out! Better yet, you can tap into these benefits any way you want – running, swimming, cycling – whatever your style.
STAND, DON’T SIT: There’s more to burning off your belly than wearing out your running shoes. Sitting for long periods – think computer/desk work and watching TV – switches off lipase, a potent fat burning enzyme that prevents fat storage. So if you aren’t active, it doesn’t function. Take regular standing breaks and increase your daily activity levels. Take the stairs, swap your car for pedal power to-and-from work & stretch regularly. The more you move, the more you stand to lose.
AUTOMATIC ABS: FIRE-UP YOUR FAT BURNERS!
Losing belly fat isn’t easy, but building muscle while you burn the calories will increase the rate at which your body breaks down (metabolizes) fat over the short-term as well as the long-term, making it quicker and easier to get shot of that spare tyre. What’s more, pumping iron will help you alter your overall body composition, giving the impression you’ve exchanged flab for lean muscle. When it comes to managing your middle with weights, there are two key areas to consider, building up your abdominal muscles & shredding the layer of fat covering them. We’ve got the skinny on each below.
BLOW-TORCH BELLY FAT! Abs don’t start showing when you build them; they show when you’ve built all the muscles in your body and cut the fat around your midsection. Here’s they key, your muscles don’t just sit there, they’re metabolically active and cost energy in the form of calories to build and maintain. So, to strip away belly fat and rev your metabolism, your goal in the gym should be to engage as much of this fat-fighting tissue as possible.
Exercises which ‘isolate’ small, single muscle groups like the bicep curl, triceps extension, leg extension/curl and variations of the crunch don’t make the cut here. Instead, build your routine around large multi-muscle moves like the squat, chin-up, push-up, bent-over row, lunge, bench press, dead-lift, shoulder press, lat-pull-down, seated row and upright row. You’ll finish faster, burn more calories both during and after your workout and release a flood of muscle-building hormones, helping you slim down faster.
MIGHTY MITOCHONDRIA: Your body comes fully equipped with its own fat-burning generators. They’re called mitochondria and function as microscopic power-plants that turn nutrients, including fat, into fuel for your muscles. And your workouts can crank them up. The more intensely you exercise, the more mitochondria you bring online.
A great way to crank up your workouts is to ditch your rest between exercises. Do this by stringing your multi-muscle moves together and perform a single set of each exercise back-to-back until you arrive back at your starting point. Repeat this cycle 3-4 times, then finish with a cardio interval session and start looking forward to the beach.
Checkout the video below for an awesome equipment-free workout you do anywhere, anytime to blast belly fat.
SHRED YOUR 6-PACK!
Once you’ve cut your total body fat to approximately 15% and can see your abs it’s time to sculpt and strengthen your core. The most effective way to do this isn’t with traditional sit-ups. It’s with exercises that require spinal alignment and steadiness, such as planks and movements which force your abs to resist motion. Here your abs do all the work to keep you stabilized and lower your risk of back injury. Do this by using heavy multi-muscle moves like squats and dead-lifts and doing the suitcase carry: hold a dumbbell in one hand and walk for increasingly longer distance while maintaining perfect posture.
AB MYTH BUSTED! Core workouts often carry the tag that high-rep workouts add definition and make your abs grow. The reality is your progress will plateau if you do the same exercises, regardless of of reps. You need to intensify your workout to teach your abs to stabilize your body-weight. Add either more-challenging variations of body-weight exercises, unbalanced moves like the single-leg lunge for example, or weighted abdominal exercises once the unweighted versions become too easy.
MAXIMIZE YOUR RECOVERY: Think more work targeting your abs leads to faster, more visible results? Think again. Over-training can quickly derail your progress and lead to a flurry of motivation killing symptoms like increased muscle laxity (softness), irritability & injuries.
Your abs are just like any other muscle in your body and perform at their peak when given sufficient time to rest and replenish. Leaving a minimum 48hr recovery window between training sessions will help you hit the gym refreshed and energized every time.
KITCHEN SECRETS FOR FLAT BELLY SUCCESS!
Sure, fasting might make sense for an obese, sedentary guy, but a bloke who’s taming the treadmill and hitting the weights each week needs to be provisioning his body with the right nutrients to support his lard-losing efforts.
All of this starts at the breakfast table. Research has shown that downing a high-fiber breakfast, such as whole-grain cereal before exercise burns twice as much fat. On the flip side, low-fiber refined carbs – think waffles, pancakes and pastries – raise insulin levels which limits your ability to use fat for fuel.
Need a break from cereal? Fill your bowl with energy-sustaining oats. You get slow-digesting carbs to fend of any sleepiness, fiber to keep you feeling fuller for longer & a generous dose of brawn-buffing protein to refuel your muscles. Buy the plain variety and flavor them yourself with mixed-berries, cinnamon and honey. Eat right for the rest of the day with these 6 foolproof strategies to manage your middle.
GET LEAN WITH PROTEIN: Maximize your protein fix with lean-meats, fish and low-fat dairy for more muscle and less lard, fast. Aiding in post exercise tissue repair, research has shown that a high-protein will help you lose lard and hold on to muscle.
Tuck in and aim for 30% of your daily kilojoules from this source safe in the knowledge that the best cut will be the one around your waistline.
SHAKE-UP TO SLIM-DOWN: After an interval training or weights session at the gym, you need to feed your muscles double-quick. Solid foods can take hours to digest and only release 4-7g of protein per hour. Have a whey protein shake after training. It’s the most easily digested protein you can feed your muscles. Add fruits, berries and yoghurt for added flavor and nutrients.
THINK GREEN: For breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, make plants the centre of your diet. Only 20% of men eat the recommended 5 servings of fruit & veg a day. So if your regular meat-to-greens ratio is 70:30, flip it. Salads, flash-sautéed veggies, raw vegetables dipped in olive oil, whole-fruits, smoothies – diversity is the key to upping your intake, you really can’t go overboard.
When it comes to flattening your belly with nutrient-rich body fuel, sticking to any kind of plan is hard work. Occasionally splurging will keep yourself from falling off the wagon without any sense of sacrifice. Go ahead, have a beer or that slice of pizza, just don’t over do it!
DITCH THE SODA & BOOZE: Consider water your new ally in the battle of the bulge. It aids in digestion and boosts your metabolism by up to 30%. Keeping it cold maximizes this effect, as your body seeks out and destroys extra flab warming it up before it can be absorbed. To find out how may liters you should drink per day, divide your weight in kilo’s by 30. Arm yourself with a water bottle during the day and guzzle at first sight!
CONQUER YOUR CRAVINGS: Craving the sweet stuff? Lusting after lollies and chocolate could indicate you’re looking to boost your mood. When your happy chemicals are bottoming out, you need a quick lift. Or it could mean you’re just low on energy. Your body absorbs refined sugars of the sweet variety much faster than any other type of food, giving you immediate fuel.
A hit of complex carbohydrates will boost you energy levels for longer without the inevitable blood sugar-crash which leaves you feeling irritable and ravenous. Have a baked potato or some whole-meal toast. Then head-out to the supermarket and stock your pantry with these energy-sustaining, flat-belly power-foods. You’ll satisfy your appetite, boost your immune system and have energy to burn.