Most gym-goers would love to have a flat tummy or a nice looking six-pack but many struggle to achieve this despite regular exercise and watching what they eat. In fact, most people struggle to shed the unwanted fat around their middle and create clearly defined abdominals so we have put together a five-part series of top tips to help you flatten your abs…forever
At Bodyguards, our Personal Trainers encourage a ‘whole’ approach and endeavor to educate our clients not only how to train intelligently and balance their exercise routine but also how to balance their diet and their lifestyle so that they can develop robust health and maintain it - keeping you looking good on the outside and feeling great on the inside. Last month, we underlined the importance of Core Conditioning and Stress Management to health, fat loss and a better-looking body. In this fourth part we further discuss the principle of Balance in relation to your Diet and your Lifestyle.
Health is a Balancing Act
The last top tip explained that the first step to improving your diet is to focus on the quality of your food before you start to worry about the quantities. Begin by just eating real wholefoods and avoid commercially farmed, processed (non-) foods as much as possible. (Whole) food consists of all three types of macronutrients: Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates. All three are essential to health, fitness and performance.
Proteins are critical to growth, repair and healing and form the building blocks of most tissue such as muscle, tendon, ligament, cartilage, intervertebral discs, skin and even enzymes.
Fats are used by our bodies to make hormones like insulin, testosterone and growth hormones, our brain cells, in fact all cells and even our nervous system.
Carbohydrates (please notice I didn’t just spell it g-r-a-i-n-s or ‘Starch’) provide us with vital energy, and once broken down into glucose are our cells preferred form of fuel.
It’s safe to say that we all need a combination of all 3 macronutrients within our diet and so removing any of them (as many diet plans suggest) can work against your body and stress any number of its various sub-systems. The problems (weight gain) can occur when we put the wrong blend of fuel (proportions of macronutrients) into our vehicle (body) i.e. you wouldn’t put petrol in a diesel engine and expect your car to perform well, would you ? So, the question is ‘what blend or how much of each macronutrient should we have’ if we want to lose weight and develop a six pack ?
That’s a very interesting question and since we’re all different, we’re all unique and have our own individual biochemistry, our genetic requirement for each macronutrient varies from person to person. However, our genes just load the gun, it’s our lifestyles and our environments which pull the trigger. This explains why one diet could work for one person but have absolutely no effect on another and could even make a third person feel worse. One man’s food can literally be another man’s poison ! Therefore, in order to correctly identify the exact amounts of each macronutrient that YOUR body needs to function optimally, build muscle, develop a fast metabolism, burn fat and improve body shape and definition, I suggest you look into Metabolic Typing® which is a proven method that allows you to take your physical and psychological traits and lifestyle/environment factors (such as levels of activity and stress) into consideration and provide you with a recommended ratio of macronutrient proportions that should be ideal for YOU.
At Bodyguards, we encourage all our clients to try Metabolic Typing® (for more information, check out our website). That said, assuming your meals already consist of only unprocessed, real organically-farmed wholefoods, it is a good starting point to ensure that your diet contains a fairly balanced amount of each macronutrient. Then, by listening to your body and adjusting the proportions appropriately, find a balance that’s right for you.
8. REST, RECOVERY & SLEEP
A commonly overlooked part of health & fitness is rest & recovery. This is another hot topic within the industry at the moment. All too often, the reason why people struggle to get results from the gym and can’t achieve a flat tummy is simply because they are trying to do too much or overtraining without allowing their body to suitably recover and repair before heading back for yet another hard workout. I call it achiever fever and it doesn’t just apply to what you’re doing in the gym, it also relates to how much you’re doing, both physically and mentally, from day to day.
Nowadays, everybody is trying to cram as much as they can into their days and tend to forget that all this activity and rushing around takes a significant toll on their bodies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be able to train hard and work hard, but at the same time it’s equally important to balance your training and your lifestyle by resting and allowing your body to recover, repair and re-build. Often, less is more ! Without ample rest, you’ll find you just don’t improve and soon hit a plateau with your progress.
Research has shown that it’s during sleep when we produce the hormones that allow us to fix up and develop muscle which helps stoke our metabolic fire and keep us burning our fat as our primary fuel. Therefore, developing a wind-down routine in the evening when you should be slowing down, avoiding stimulation and allowing your body to begin repairing itself is an important factor when it comes to optimal health & fitness. Slow down, make time for rest and recovery and get plenty of beauty sleep !
Work hard – Play hard – Rest hard
Next week, in the 5th and final part of the series, we’ll be discussing the importance of correct breathing and how to balance your nervous system in order to ‘flatten your abs…forever’