With summer approaching very quickly, most of you have begun to think about starting on your transition to get the six pack abs that you've always wanted. You may have taken a stab at achieving this goal in the past, but frustratingly, you didn't have much success. Getting the six pack abs to clearly show through takes more than just hard work and effort; it takes the right type of strategy to get the job done.
If your approach is flawed in any manner, it will set you back and keep you from realizing true success. Therefore, your job this year is to get on a proper strategy first and then put in the hard work. When you do these in combination, this will be the year that the six pack abs become yours. Here's what you need to do.
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There's no question about it, getting the six pack abs is going to be predominately a factor of eating right. If you aren't watching the foods you put in your mouth with each and every meal, success will elude you. If you were to gather a group of people in a room who have already achieve the six pack abs and ask them their number one tip for results, 90% of them would state diet. It really is that important.
Figuring out your calorie intake is paramount so what you need to do first. Most people starting out on a fat loss program will begin losing body fat at an intake of about 13 calories per pound of body weight (provided you are doing workouts 3-5 days a week), but don't be surprised if as you progress you have to bring this down closer to the 9-10 calories per pound range.
At the lower body fat levels, your body is going to fight you harder to get the six pack abs you're after. When you get to the point of having to lower them this much, it's wise to calorie cycle between the very low levels and slightly higher levels to ensure that your metabolism doesn't crash. Place a few more calories (and carbohydrates) on days you have a heavy workout and lower them again on days you don't.
Next is your protein intake. When shooting to get the six pack abs look, protein needs to be high. It'll boost your metabolic rate up, prevent the lean muscle mass loss that typically accompanies very low calorie diets, and keep you from feeling hungry. Make no mistake about it, when you're at 9 calories per pound of body weight as your intake, you will be very happy to have the extra protein content of your diet up higher.
Carbohydrates are the nutrient that gets discussed the most when the topic of the six pack abs comes up. Cycling these tends to be very effective for results since as you go lower the body will burn up more body fat and you'll also reduce your overall water retention, making you appear leaner.
They are important to keep in there some days, however. If carbs are too low for too long of a time, energy levels will drop, cravings will become extremely intense, and your resting metabolic rate will plummet. At the very least, put 25-50 grams both before and after your workout sessions on the hard days and never omit vegetables (a low calorie carbohydrate) source from your diet.
Every three to four weeks on an intense diet also be sure to have a full fledged high-carb weekend where you eat a much greater number of carbohydrates in order to keep your metabolism firing. This short carb-up period should be primarily focused on high-carb, low fat foods while keeping your protein intake relatively constant to prevent fat from being regained.
When done correctly these are extremely beneficial at preventing stalled progress and something every strict diet must have.
Finally, you must not forget fat. When it's time to really get ripped up so you can get the six pack abs physique, you will not be eating all that much dietary fat. Limit it to only a few grams per meal coming from the absolute healthiest sources such as flax seeds, flaxseed oil, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish or fish oil.
Keep in mind a long-term maintenance diet should provide more daily fat to your intake (15% of total calories minimum) but for the purpose of this plan, you'll be taking it lower.
Like any other time, be sure to avoid fat in the time period right before and after your workout as this will only slow the digestion process. Those meals should be strictly protein and carbohydrate meals and then 4-7 grams of fat should be added to 3-5 of your other meals during the day depending on your overall calorie requirements.
Finally, don't forget some of the other factors that will influence how easily the six pack abs come to you. These include things like sodium intake (which can result in a bloated appearance), the amount of sleep your getting each night (which is important to control carbohydrate cravings), as well as how much clear fluid you're drinking on a daily basis.
You must remember that in order to get six pack abs, you're going to have to take an entire lifestyle approach to it. What you do in the gym definitely does matter, but if you're not on your game the rest of the time, you're still going to struggle.
To summarize, here are the steps to take to create your six pack abs diet plan.
1. Set Calorie Intake
Multiply your current bodyweight in pounds by a factor of 9-13 calories to get your daily calorie total. Note that you should try to start at the higher end of the scale and work your way down depending on the progress you're seeing. There's no sense taking calories any lower than you have to.
2. Set Protein Intake
As discussed, a higher level of protein is essential so take in 1.2-1.5 grams per pound of body weight. Multiply what you get from that equation by 4 calories per gram to get how many calories of protein you'll be eating each day.
3. Set Other Macronutrients
To finish off the diet, subtract your protein intake calories from your target daily calorie intake and that gives you how many calories are left over for fat and carbohydrates.
Set your pre and post workout carbohydrate levels (25-50 grams) and then add some to other meals if desired. Remember there are four calories per gram of carbohydrate. Once you have that figured out, then set your fat grams with the remaining calories left (9 calories per gram for dietary fat).
Remember to think about cycling the carbohydrates in your plan as well so that you'll see varying calorie levels across the week.
By getting your diet in order, you will take a huge leap forward towards seeing results at getting the six pack abs you're looking for. Remember that if you do fall off the plan, don't beat yourself up over it too much, just get right back on where you left off.