You’ve been working hard and nailing your meals weekly, maybe even saying ‘no’ to going out drinking with your pals and staying on track as best you can, but guess what? You still can’t see your abs. You know they are there, you train them a couple of times a week, and you’ve been working on your posture, but guess what? You still can’t see your abs. Ugh. Frustrating right? We agree. So we looked into it for you and we're going to teach you, 5 basic nutrition principals to get visible abs.
It’s not that strong abs are the culprit here, it’s that you don’t have a low enough body fat percentage to have visible abs. It makes sense right? Think about it. If you have too much subcutaneous fat covering your abs, or your core section, then no matter what you do, the visibility isn’t going to change much. The answer doesn't lie in your workouts it lies within your nutrition.
PSA: Visible abs aren't always strong abs, and strong abs aren't always visible. Does that make one less or better than another? No, not necessarily. Try not to forget that on your quest to visible abs you should also maintain good health. If you're not healthy, but you have abs, there's really no benefit of having visible abs. Just saying.
FAQ: What body fat percentage will I see my abs?
Men and women are different in this sense because, from a biological perspective, our bodies are made to do different things, like carry babies and make babies (that’s as simple as I can put it). The body fat range for visible abs is around 6-12 percent for men and 13-19 percent body fat for women. The leaner you are, the more defined the abs get.
FAQ: Do ab exercises help you burn body fat?
Working out will certainly help you burn body fat, but the biggest difference to be made will be from what you do in the kitchen, not the gym. But keep in mind, strong abs do help a lot of other things, like stability, balance, and when you get your body fat down, the ‘quality’ of your muscle. However, spending hours and hours on your abs every week twisting, crunching, and bending, isn’t going to burn enough body fat to see your abs. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Hate to break it to ya here, but a 6-week diet isn’t going to get your abs poppin’ before summer. Unless you already have a low body fat percentage (think 18% or below for women, 15% or below for men) visible abs aren't going to happen in 6-weeks.
Getting a washboard abdominal section takes dedication, hard work, making your nutrition a priority in the kitchen, and most of all, time. We’re talking anywhere from three months to more than a year, which is probably a lot more than you wanted to hear, given that you’re reading this article.
And that’s okay!
Just keep in mind that when your favorite insta-celeb is trying to sell you 6-pack abs in 30 days, chances are, if you have more than 5lbs to lose to reveal those hard-earned abs, it’s going to be a waste of money. You’re better off investing in a coaching program that directs your nutrition as it relates to your exercise and the rest of your life.
RELATED: Sign Up For Nutrition Coaching From The Swole Kitchen
5 Basic Nutrition Principals To Get Visible Abs
If you’re not following these 5 basic nutrition principals to get visible abs, you’re probably on the wrong track from a foundational standpoint with your nutrition. That’s okay if you don’t know them, we’re going to teach them to you right now. Check it out:
1. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is ruining your body and your visible ab goals. And guess what? It’s in a lot more things than you think, like salad dressings, pasta, pre-fixed foods, and even BBQ sauce. Taking an extra 30 seconds to read the nutrition label of something you’re going to buy is worth it, especially if you’re trying to get abs (visible ones at that). HFCS has zero nutritional value for your body meaning there are zero reasons to consume it.
Not only that, but HFCS ends up metabolized in the liver and stored as fat, increasing triglyceride levels and causing unintended and unwanted weight/fat gain. It’s also in a lot of sports drinks and energy bars so keep a lookout and eliminate it from your diet, even if you’re not in a quest for washboard abs.
Just eliminate HFCS forever from your diet; it’s the devil.
2. Limit Excess Carbohydrates
Excess carbs are stored as fat. If you’re trying to reduce stored fat, like the fat around your midsection, then it makes sense to limit the things that cause storage in the first place – are you following? Excess carbs and sugar that aren’t used for immediate energy (like eating a banana and protein before a workout, for example) are going to be converted to glycogen and stored as fat. This doesn’t mean cutting out ALL carbs and sugar is the answer, but if you’re looking to reduce the muffin top, say bye-bye to the love handles, and get visible abs, excess carbs have to go.
Did we say that enough times? We’ll say it one more – don’t eat more carbs than your body can use.
3. Tame Blood Sugar By Reducing Sugar
We’re not saying all carbohydrates are bad, but in the context of getting visible abs, excess carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates, like sugars, aren’t really going to be your friend. The reason? They both raise your blood sugar. While yes, blood sugar (aka glucose) is our main source of energy, excess levels are stored as body fat, in your body’s way of keeping ‘energy reserves’.
Unfortunately, these energy reserves are keeping you from a low level of subcutaneous fat level, and it’s important to pay attention to them. Pay attention to how many aggressive carbohydrates you have in your diet, like starches, grains, non-starchy carbohydrates, legumes, fruit, refined/processed food, and excess + added sugars.
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4. Increase Protein & Fat
Ah, good ol’ fat. Guess what? It’s not the devil anymore! While you should limit your carbohydrate intake to match your energy expenditure and activity levels, making a mental note to include protein and healthy fat at every meal can actually help you lose weight, body fat, and improve your overall health.
When the body already has a sufficient glucose level, protein and fats don’t actually cause an insulin response, meaning protein only converts into glucose (remember in excess, glucose is stored as fat) when it’s consumed in the absence of glucose in the diet. Increasing protein and fat can also suppress your hunger hormones (PYY & GLP-1) as well as your appetite for longer periods of time, naturally leading to a reduction in food intake.
5. Incorporate Vegetables
Seems like a no-brainer right? I mean, it’s been ground into our heads from childhood to “eat your vegetables, Timmy, so you can grow big and strong”, but this force-fed fork has also contributed to a lot of people not liking vegetables and avoiding them altogether. A big no-no. If you don’t eat vegetables, you’ve got to find a way to incorporate them.
Eating vegetables as your carbohydrate source is going to be a great way to reduce body fat, increase weight loss, and boost your metabolic rate. The good news? Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. There are plenty of ways to eat vegetables without even knowing it, so our suggestion is to start eating them, whenever and however you can! Especially if you’re trying to shred for some ab visibility.
Need another reason to eat more vegetables? The more carbohydrates and sugars you eat the more your body doesn’t listen to its natural insulin response. Insulin is the hormone responsible for stabilizing blood sugar, and as we learned earlier, having a balanced blood sugar level by delivering adequate amounts of carbs for energy, is your key to low body fat and metabolism control. The more vegetables you eat, the better blood sugar regulation you have, contributing to a better insulin response signal and reduced body-fat. Bingo.
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The Case For Visible Abs - The Secret Is Your Nutrition
By using these five basic nutrition principals you can begin to make decisions from a place of self-trust and intuition. Think of them as the framework to a healthful diet. Truth is this – there is more than one diet approach to living your best life and this framework is going to give you a solid foundation to build upon. By using these 5 basic nutrition principals, whether you want visible abs or just want to live a more balanced, healthy lifestyle, you’re on the right track!
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