Summer is right around the corner and everyone is asking themselves how they are going to get those “6 pack abs” fast. Though there is no quick fix, there are certain things you could be doing to get yourself on the right track. I’m going to get you started with some quick tips to get rid of that muffin top and start seeing those nice flat lines on your stomach.
As cliché as it may sound…it is the honest truth when I say that abs are made in the kitchen. You could be working out 7 days a week and still not have beautiful abs. Why? Because it is all about what you are choosing to put into your body. You have to create balance and putting the right nutrients in your body is going to be KEY to your fitness success.
1.) WATER: This one is simple, yet many people find it very difficult to drink this much water throughout the day. The female daily intake of water should be 2.2 Liters or 9 cups. The male daily intake of water should be 3.0 Liters or 13 cups. Yes, that may seem like a lot of water, but if you can be sure that you are drinking that much a day…it will greatly help with digestion, hydration, and the normal progression of flushing things out of the body. Once your body gets used to it though, you will start to feel slimmer in the waste line.
2.) NUTRITION: Your diet should consist of a lot of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein like chicken, fish, egg whites, or beans. Stay away from red meats! You should try to eat carbs in the morning like oatmeal, or a protein/fiber filled cereal like Kashi Go Lean Crunch. Try to eliminate all simple carbs such as sugar, artificial syrups, white rice, white bread, white pasta, potatoes, pastries, and deserts! NONE OF THAT! The complex carbs are the ones you CAN eat.
Examples of good carbs:
-sprouted grain bread
-brown rice, quinoa
Try to cut back on dairy a bit. If you are a whole milk, cheese, and yogurt person…cut back on just one of those. If you can switch your whole milk to almond milk (vanilla almond breeze is my favorite), then try it! Substitute your regular yogurt for Greek yogurt! Greek yogurt is also chalk full of protein so you are getting more nutrients and feeling fuller. STAY AWAY from all desserts. The late night snacking can absolutely kill your waistline. Stay away from snack type chips/crackers (bad carbs), and reach for a healthy low calorie salt free rice cake with a tablespoon or less of peanut butter. Calories can absolutely add up just from snacks. Instead of crackers and cheese, M & M’s, Ice cream, etc….reach for these healthy options for mid-day pick me ups!
Healthy snack options:
-Greek yogurt with fruit and raw almonds
-tablespoon peanut butter-salt free rice cakes
-2 tablespoons hummus with vegetables
-fruit- any kind
-small handful of dark chocolate chips (AND THAT’S IT!)
-Luna bar or think thin bar (can find at most grocery stores)
-protein shake (100% whey preferable)
Don’t forget the ratio of calories from fat, carbs, and protein. You should be getting 40-50% Carbs, 25-35% protein, and 20-30% fat. To calculate this, multiply each gram of carbs by 4 calories, each gram of protein by 4 calories, and each gram of fat by 9 calories. These will make up almost your entire caloric intake for the day. For example: based on a 2,000 calorie diet, you will need 800 calories from carbs, 700 calories from protein, and 500 calories from fat. Drop back slightly on carbs and up the protein for a “leaner” result!
3.) DRINKS: Avoid high calorie drinks (beer, sugary juice drinks, soda, cocktails, even Gatorade and Powerade). You would be surprised how many calories you can consume just from drinks alone! If you are having an alcoholic beverage I would stick to vodka on the rocks with a squeeze of fresh lemon and orange. Limit yourself to 1 or 2 drinks. My suggestion is to stick to water, tea, and coffee only. You can add fresh squeezed lemons to your water for flavor. It is very easy to consume all of your calories through dressings and condiments as well. Stay away from all creamy dressings in general. No mayonnaise, ranch, cesar,dijon, alfredo, etc.
healthy dressing options:
-fresh squeezed lemon
-olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette
4.) CARDIO/WEIGHTS! That’s right…..BOTH ARE IMPORTANT:
Cardio: For a quicker lean look you are going to want to up your cardio for a bit to kick start this. Ultimately, I recommend 45 minutes a day at least 4-5 days a week. Instead of the average steady state cardio, try to up your intensity level a bit. If you are a treadmill person, try interval walk/jog. 1 minute walking at 4.0 speed on a 2% incline, followed by 2 minutes running at 6.0-8.0 speed on a 1% incline. Repeat this pattern for 30-45 minutes. You can do the same thing on the elliptical, bike, Stairmaster, or step mill. Feel free to switch it up!
Weights: If you want those nice lines and perfect tone for your bikini, pick up some light weights! I love high intensity interval training and a lot of body weight/light weight exercises. For this purpose, I love to refer people to the Nike Training Club app that you can get on your Iphone or Ipad. They have 20-40 minute weight and cardio workouts that suit every fitness level. If that isn’t enough, they have the actual videos on there to show you what the exercise should look like. Since this is a blog and I cannot be there to show everyone correct form, the NTC app is a great way to incorporate those weights into your regiment. I suggest picking 3 NTC workouts a week in addition to your cardio for max results. If you cannot download the NTC app, try doing light weight/body weight activities. Things such as lunges, squats, bicep curls, tricep kick-backs, push ups, assisted pull ups, dips, etc. If you can easily do a 5lb weight, don’t be afraid to up your weight to 8 – 12 lb dumbbells.
5.) ABS: Unfortunately the act of doing a bunch of abdominal exercises will NOT get you a 6-pack. Doing your cardio, eating properly, and lifting weights will all involve your core. These are my top 3 favorite ab/core exercises that you could be incorporating in your daily routine
Plank: Work up to 1 minute holds. Try 5 sets. Once you master that, you can try the right and left side plank holds.
Bicycle crunch: Try 5 sets of 50 repetitions.
Stability ball crunch: Stressing proper form here with your elbows back and hands are lightly touching the back of your head. Work up to 4 sets of 20.
Start with these 5 tips, and you will be on track in no time!