The 6-pack diet
It's every dieter's dream - a flat stomach! For the more determined
even this is not enough - only a six pack or washboard will do.
This is where the stomach muscles are so defined that they show
as a grid on your abdomen - stunning, but hard work.
Abs definition can be difficult to achieve - it is in fact a lot
easier for men to achieve than women (testosterone helps!). However,
a strong flat belly does not have to be confined to athletes, models
or bodybuilders, it can be achievable with the right diet and exercise
The best way to gaining a flat tummy is a 3 pronged
- Lose any excess weight - aerobic exercise for 20 mins 3 times
a week and follow a
healthy weight loss diet plan
- Careful diet
- Daily core strengthening and toning exercises
first important thing to realise is that to show definition, like
a 6-pack on your stomach, you first have to get rid of any residual
fat stored there. Just doing sit-ups or ab crunches won't give you
firm defined abs - you need to burn calories.
Scientists have calculated that you would need to do 250,000
crunches to burn just one pound of fat!
Fat covers up your muscles and prevents your firm abs from showing.
For visible abs you need to keep your body fat to 10%, and if you're
determined to have a six-pack it will probably need to be as low as
8%. This is not achievable for everyone - it is more important to
stay a healthy weight.
|As well as improving your appearance there
is another reason for getting rid of that tummy - belly fat
is recognised as a dangerous health risk, health experts have
identified girth measurements that indicate an increased heart
Men - more than 37 ins / 94cm
Women - more than 31.5 ins/ 80cm
If you have a noticeable belly then it it may mean you also have a
build up of visceral fat around your vital organs, and this makes
you more at risk from heart disease and diabetes.
Apple-shaped people (those who store their fat on their abdomen)
are more at risk from heart disease than those who are pear-shaped
(those who store fat on their hips and thighs).
The good news is that visceral fat can be dropped quickly, in fact
it starts going as soon as you adopt a healthy diet and regular exercise
plan. Losing weight from your stomach - dropping the spare tyre/ pot
belly - is an important move towards good health, and it makes you
look healthier and sexier. It is the ultimate fitness medal for many.
So, the first step is to lose any residual weight which is sitting
on your abdomen. The best way is to follow a healthy
diet plan and increase your aerobic exercise to at least
three sessions of 20 mins a week - jogging, running, cycling, power
walking, swimming, etc.
Incorporate some resistance training, like weight-training, and it
will speed up your metabolism for longer, as your body has to work
hard and use lots of energy to repair your muscles.
Flat stomach diet
Specific foods have been identifed by nutrition and health experts
as being helpful or detrimental when trying to get a 6 pack.
A washboard stomach is around 70% diet and 30% exercise,
so what you eat is vital to gaining a flat, defined stomach.
Some foods can react with people's digestion and may cause bloatedness
and trapped wind, or are high in fat, sugar or salt.
Foods to avoid for a flat tum
Beer - we all know the term 'beer belly', and it's
true drinking alcohol can increase your belly - every gram of alcohol
contains 7 calories.
If you are serious about getting a 6 pack you will need to forget
the other six pack of beers! (for the initial fat-loss period at
least, once you get used to a daily healthy diet you can gradually
introduce ocasional treats back). Try some delicious low
Salt - processed meals and fast foods are teeming
with sodium which will make you retain water and bloat your tum. It's
also bad for your health - raising blood pressure. You soon adapt
to the taste of less salt in your food - try pepping your food up
with herbs and spices instead. Chillies can even help you to burn
Fizzy drinks - these are full of air and often high
in sugar or artificial sweetners, colouring and flavourings. They
can easily cause bloating and wind.
Saturated and trans fats - lose the pastries,
pies, processed meals and fried food and avoid hard fats, like butter
Refined/ simple carbohydrates or high GI
foods - white bread, rice, cakes, biscuits, etc
For some people certain fresh vegetables, especially from the cruciferous
family, like brussel sprouts and cauliflower, and certain pulses
and beans can cause bloating. So, if you do find certain vegetables
trigger this in you they are best avoided in your particular diet.
Similarly, for some people wheat products have a similar effect.
There is no reason to avoid these foods otherwise, as they are a
good healthy source of fibre and vitamins.
to help you get a flat stomach
Wholegrains - wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta,
oats - these foods are full of fibre and vitamins
Lean protein, such as skinned chicken, turkey, steak,
eggs and fish (oily fish, like mackeral and salmon, are full of good
Leafy green vegetables, like spinach
Monosaturated (MUFAs) fats, like olive oil, have
been shown to help reduce the storing of belly fat
Polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fats, such as oily fish,
full of healthy, protecting Omega-3 fatty acids
Low-fat live and probiotic yogurt, which contains
active bacteria, is said to be good for the digestion
Unsalted nuts and seeds, like almonds and sunflower
or pumpkin seeds
Berried fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries -
super fruits teeming with antioxidants and vitamins
Drink plenty of water
Menstruation and Menopause hormones
Hormonal rises and falls during a woman's menstrual cycle,
or changes during menopause, can contribute for some women towards
giving them a bloated tummy. A bloated abdomen, with a sense of
being full and uncomfortable, can feel unpleasant. You should contact
your doctor if this feeling continues for any length of time.
Bloating can also be due to water retention, constipation, food
allergy, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal gas or other medical
conditions. Some find certain foods difficult to digest, resulting
in trapped wind, such as, specific fruits, vegetables and beans
Celery, parsley, ginger, fennel, coriander, peppermint and sage
are all recognised remedies for trapped wind or flatulence.
Long-term stress can increase the release of the hormone cortisol,
which can cause you to store fat around the abdomen. Studies have
revealed that people who secrete higher levels of cortisol in response
to stress also have a tendency to overeat , particularly high carb
So as well as eating the right foods and exercising regularly, it
is often a good idea to look at your lifestyle and assess whether
there are areas you could improve. For many practising yoga or learning
meditation can help them to de-stress.
Any changes such as feeling bloated should always be checked
out with a doctor - to ensure it is not an underlying symptom of
a more serious complaint - before you embark on any changes to your
diet or exercise plans.