The Foods I Gave Up To Get Six Pack Abs
Oct 12, 2015
Take it from someone who knows: Diet is far more important when it comes to getting a flat, lean stomach than any number of crunches, sit-ups, planks, or ab exercises. In fact, getting ready for my last men’s physique contest, I hardly did any ab exercises at all!! I just focused on cleaning up my diet, keeping up with my weight training workouts, and regular cardio.
Over the years, I discovered that many of my favorite foods were making it practically impossible for me to get lean. Many of them were foods that many people consider “healthy.” It’s important to understand that just because you eat a “healthy” diet does not mean you are eating a “fat loss” diet. This is an important distinction.
A smart fat loss diet is one that is not only “healthy,” but is structured to specifically “burn the fat while feeding the muscles.” A “healthy”diet, on the other hand, does not necessarily focus on these two objectives...especially not simultaneously.
Bodybuilders and figure competitors select very specific foods to eat throughout the day that not only contain sufficient nutrients, but promote and optimize the most conducive hormonal environment to stimulate muscle growth and fat loss. They also pay very specific attention to how much they are eating to be sure they are getting enough of the right calories, but not too much either.
As I learned more about my own body and metabolism over the years, I discovered that certain foods (many of which I considered very healthy) were actually keeping me fat and/or making me gain additional body fat.
As I began to experiment with my diet, I found that by eliminating certain foods as well as including others, I took my fat loss results to a whole new level. In addition, I felt a dramatic increase in my energy, mood, and health.
I’d like to share some of my discoveries with you here:
- Aside from processed junk food (which should be a no-brainer) the most important calories I eliminated first were excess dietary fats. Until you track and monitor your fat intake meticulously for several weeks, you really have no idea how much you are consuming. I know I didn’t! Boy was I in for a shock. Too much fat in ones’ diet, in my opinion, is one of the major reasons most people cannot lose body fat. Unlike protein and carbohydrate (which are tightly auto regulated) dietary fat is very easily stored as fat. Excess carbohydrate and protein, on the other hand, are rarely ever converted to fat in the human body. It is literally quite true that the fat you eat is the fat you wear. It doesn’t matter how healthy the fat is that you eat if you eat too much. I used to think that just because I was eating healthy fats from nuts and seeds that I could eat as much as I wanted and not get fat—big mistake!!! I now try to keep my fat intake under 20% of total calories.
- The second most important calories I eliminated were liquid calories from soda, juice, milk, and other liquid calories. By dramatically reducing these liquid calories, I subsequently reduced my sugar intake too. I found that my energy throughout the day was twice what it was before. Although I never was an alcohol drinker, I have read enough research to know that alcohol would be another beverage I would reduce dramatically or eliminate if I wanted a lean, flat, and toned stomach. Almost nothing else blocks fat loss more potently than alcohol. If you ever want to lose that belly, I’d seriously recommend you cut back your alcohol intake.
- Flour: I found that by cutting bread out of my diet I felt incredible. Nowadays, I only have bread on rare occasions. When I do, it is most often from sprouted Ezekiel 4:9 bread.
- Fatty animal foods and red meat. Switching to a mostly plant-based diet in 1999 is one of the best decisions I ever made. While I do not eat exclusively plant foods, the vast majority of my diet is still comprised of whole, plant-based foods like: spinach, apples, berries, sweet potatoes, organic red and yellow potatoes, onions, garlic, sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, raw nuts, raw seeds, grapefruit, oranges, kiwis, bananas, etc. My main animal proteins are: boiled fish, parboiled egg whites, and organic lean meats. I only consume these in small quantities.
- Too much fruit. Fruit is super-nutritious, but it is also high in natural sugars. It’s not that fruit makes you fat as many low-carbers will try to convince you; it’s just that a high-carb diet can slow down fat loss by hindering fat oxidation and favoring carbohydrate oxidation. Reducing fruit to only certain times of the day is an excellent fat loss strategy. The best times, in my opinion, are before and after breakfast and sometimes before bed if you are craving carbs.
- My dietary changes did not just exclude certain foods, but included many new food items. One of the most important food changes I made was to reduce the amount of cooked food in my diet and to increase the raw. I also learned how important it is to include small servings of lean protein at each meal when you are trying to cut body fat while building muscle at the same time. Basically, the way you lose body fat is to be in a CALORIE DEFICIT. However, in order to build muscle you must be in a calorie SURPLUS. It seems we have a bit of a conundrum here—How can you build muscle and lose fat at the same time if you have to be in a deficit AND surplus at the same time??? At first, it seems impossible—the two seem mutually exclusive. However, things aren’t always as simple as they appear. Muscle it appears, is made up of predominately protein. Body fat, on the other hand, is made up of...well—FAT. Eating a high-carbohydrate diet can slow down or hinder fat oxidation. The key to losing fat, therefore, is to reduce overall calories from fat and carbohydrate (create a deficit), while simultaneously increasing protein intake to prevent muscle catabolism as well as have enough protein left over to synthesize new muscle tissue. The greater the overall caloric deficit, the greater the protein intake (approximately 1.5 grams per kilogram of Lean Body Weight). Remember, however, this is really only relevant for those actively dieting (in a calorie deficit) and lifting heavy weights to build muscle!! If you are eating more than you need and not lifting weights on a regular basis, the last thing you need is more protein!! It will often do more harm than good. Whenever calories are very low, it is very important to make sure you take a fish oil, whole food multivitamin, and green powder supplement to increase potassium and mineral content. This is especially important if protein intake is a bit higher and overall calories are low.
Here is a sample of what a day of eating for muscle building and fat loss looks like for me:
Upon awaking in the morning, eat nothing but protein, vegetables, and legumes. During this time you can take your fish oil and multivitamin too.
Meal 1 (Breakfast): 16 ounces of water, 7 egg whites, 1⁄2 cup organic salsa, 1⁄2 cup spicy black bean dip, and 1/8 cup lentils as well as 2 fish oil caps and one multivitamin.
Meal 2 (Lunch): Tuna salad with onion on a romaine leaf wrap and some black berries.
Meal 3: (Small meal one hour before workout) Oatmeal, blueberries, half scoop of plant-based protein powder or BOTA bar with water.
Meal 4: (After workout) Green smoothie with plant-based or whey protein powder and 6 cups of raw spinach in water or unsweetened almond milk. Green powder can also be used in place of spinach.
Meal 5: (Dinner) Boiled and seasoned Haddock, homemade potato salad with onion, and raw veggies with fresh fruit.
***These are just some examples. The basic pattern is protein and veggies up until 1 hour before workout at which point you eat a small protein and starch- containing meal (like oatmeal). After the workout, you go back to just protein and veggies but keep the fat and carbs low. For dinner, eat a second protein and starch-containing meal as well as some fruit. This is a rough version of the protein-sparing modified fastthat is often used in a clinical setting. Before adopting any kind of new diet or weight loss program, it is always advisable to get the approval and guidance of your doctor.
If you have any further questions about setting up your own fat loss exercise and nutrition program, please do not hesitate to contact Bo at: www.botafitness.com