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Episode 125: What Does It Really Take To Get Flat Abs???

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Aaaah, the ever elusive flat abs, the toned tummy, the 6-pack... how ever will we find you?

I remember back in my dancer days, a slim waist was the pinnacle of beauty in my eyes. I loved looking at my flat stomach in the morning, but lamented the first meal that would immediately send me back to 'fluffy' territory.

And believe you me, I tried all the gimmicks - apple cider vinegar, 6-pack ab workouts from women's magazines, drinking this drink, following that plan.

Shocker of shockers, it got me nowhere.

Which is why I'm taking this opportunity to save you the time, energy, and frustration, and tell you exactly what works, exactly what it really and truly takes to get that tight belly so many of us dream of. (Hint: it doesn't come out of a bottle.)

Now before we talk about what toned abs require, let's look at the different levels of leanness.

(For the purposes of this episode I'm going to be talking strictly about women's bodies.)

For women, essential fat is 10-13% body fat, athletes are 14-20% (which is where you see that 6-pack), fitness is 21-24% (which is where you see tone), average is 25-31%, and obese is over 32%.

To maintain your health, but not worry about getting particularly 'toned' (25-31% body fat):

  • Eat slowly and only until satisfied at 60% of your meals
  • Include 1 palm of protein in 1-2 meals per day
  • Include 1 fist of veggies in 1-2 meals per day
  • Exercise 3-5 times per week doing any activity you enjoy.
  • Eat fewer desserts and processed foods.
  • Drink fewer caloric beverages.

To reach that toned, 'fitness look' (21-24% body fat):

  • Eat slowly and only until satisfied at 80% of your meals
  • Include 1 palm of protein in 3 meals per day
  • Include 1 fist of veggies in 3 meals per day
  • Include 1 thumb of healthy fat at most meals
  • Include 1 cupped handful of clean carbs at most meals
  • Exercise 45-60 minutes per day with at least 3-4 relatively intense sessions
  • Sleep at least 7 hours per night and manage your stress.
  • Eat processed foods/treats 1-2 times per week (in the proper portions, not having a full fuck it day)
  • Drink 1-3 caloric beverages per week (in the proper portions)

To achieve a true 6-pack (14-20% body fat):

  • Eat slowly and only until satisfied at 95% of your meals
  • Include 1 palm of protein in every meal
  • Include 1 fist of non-starchy, fibrous veggies in every meal
  • Include 1 thumb of healthy fat in each meal
  • Exercise 60-75 minutes per day with 4-5 relatively intense sessions
  • Sleep at least 8 hours per night and manage your stress
  • Limit carbs to post-workout or designated higher carb days
  • Eat treats/processed foods every 1-2 weeks (in proper portions)
  • Drink a caloric beverage once every 1-2 weeks

A note about your gut's role in getting a flat stomach: you can do everything right, but if you're eating foods you have a sensitivity to or if there's an overgrowth of bad bacteria/fungus in your gut making it hard for you to digest food properly, you're likely going to experience bloating and inflammation that makes it really hard to see the results from all your hard work. If you think your gut may be holding you back, click here to learn more about my Follow Your Gut Weight Loss Program designed to help you reset your gut and lose stubborn weight for good.

Whatever your goal is, that's up to you. But the struggle I see a lot of people face is they want that athletic/fitness look, but are only willing to put in the work for average results. 

I was just sharing with the girls in my Follow Your Gut Program, you have to go in knowing both the benefits and the tradeoffs of whatever goal you choose to aim for.

If you don't want to change much about what you're doing, the benefit is getting to stay relatively in your comfort zone, not having to do a lot of deep work on yourself, and not having to sacrifice much time or energy for your health goals. The tradeoff is you probably won't look exactly how you'd like.

If you want to go for it with that total body transformation, the benefits are better health, more confidence, more energy, and getting to show off that super toned bod. The tradeoffs (depending on how extreme you want your results to be) are you may have to pick your fitness over other activities, you'll need to do more planning, you'll need to have more discipline, and you may struggle through some social situations.

I'm not saying any of that to discourage you, I simply want you to go in with eyes wide open so you can make the choice that makes the most sense for you and your lifestyle. 

We get disappointed and discouraged when our expectations clash with reality, and if your expectation is that you can workout 30 minutes a few days a week, eat some more veggies, and get shredded, you're setting yourself up for a bit of heart ache.



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The information shared in this blog and podcast are intended for informational purposes only. They are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any health conditions and you should always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.


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