Are abs made in the kitchen?

How to reveal those abs!

No matter how hard you train, you will not see those abs if you continue to eat badly. Is there truth in “you can’t out exercise a bad diet”..?

There are four main components to revealing abdominal definition. Genetics, muscular, body fat percentage and diet. Please note that everyone is different and the below is just a guide.

When it comes to abs, everyone has them at some level, but at the end of the day, it does come down to the kitchen. You need to always be working with the the 70/30 rule. 70% Food / 30% Gym. The foods you eat will be the deciding factor when it comes to showing off a flat, defined stomach. We all have abs hiding under belly fat and unfortunately, we can’t just lose fat off one place of our body (this point being our stomach) it has to be an all over body effort!

There are 2 main points to remember:

1) Abs are built in the gym

2) The kitchen will show them off

Body Fat %

For your abs to be visible you will have be on the lower end of the body fat percentage. The bad news is that if your body fat is too high your abs will stay hidden under a layer of fat. For a 6 pack to be visible on men your body fat needs to be less than 20% and a woman 25%.

So, you can be doing crunches for days, but if you aren’t eating properly you’ll never see those abs. You will need to cut out the processed foods and concentrate on the right mixture of macronutrients in your diet.

What are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients is a term used to describe the three key food groups, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. We need carbohydrates for fuel to give us energy, fats will help us feel fuller for longer as well as other positive health effects, and proteins to build and repair muscle. Get the right balance of these and not only will you lose weight, you’ll be more effective at burning fat and building lean muscle. You’ll become a lean, fat burning machine!!

Keep track of your Macronutrients

There are 2 key things to figuring out your macronutrients, your weight (which in turn effects your BMR) and how active you are. Use this online calculator to work out your Macronutrients intake. It takes a bit of trial and error to find your ideal macro ratio, but it’s worth it. Focus on counting your macros rather than painfully counting calories, and once you have found the formula for you, there’ll be no going back!

Abdominal Exercise Example

It’s very important to focus on the muscles surrounding the abdominal muscles and work on all movement patterns and planes of motion; spinal flexion, spinal rotation and lateral flexion.

One example exercise routine of this would be:

  1. Swiss Ball Jackknife
  2. Medicine ball Russian Twist
  3. Side Plank (left and right)

Do 30 seconds of each exercise with no rest between reps. Complete one round then have 60 seconds rest and repeat the circuit another 3 times.

Stick to the above and you’ll be well on your way to a flat, lean, defined stomach!



How do we store fat?

How do we store fat?

How does our body store fat? Fat, (adipose tissue) is found in several places in the body, generally underneath the skin (subcutaneous fat). There is also some fat surrounding your vital organs for protection. An adult man tends to carry body fat in his chest and abdomen, producing an “apple” shape whereas women will carry fat in their breasts, hips, waist and buttocks, creating a “pear” shape. The difference in fat location comes from the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone.

Generally there are three fat layering periods when the body is much more inclined to convert excess energy from the diet into fat cells. These periods are: during the third trimester of pregnancy as the foetus is developing; between nine and eighteen months of age; and at onset and duration of puberty. If there are significant excess calories present during these “layering periods”, then more fat cells will be produced (hyperplasic adiposity) and this means more fat cells for life!

It was always thought that following these fat layering periods, the number of fat cells was set for life, and that as we overeat, these fat cells simply get bigger (Hypertrophic adiposity). However, we now know that continued overeating will lead to new fat cells emerging even in late adulthood, and it is this new fat cell growth that is more difficult to counter.

Hope is now emerging for people that have always been overweight (people with excess fat cells). Just as we believed that once these new fat cells developed they were with you for life, it is now thought that if fat cells can be reduced to a certain size for a period longer than 9 months, they are programmed to die off. The significance of this finding is that hyperplasic adiposity is reversible, which was previously thought impossible. This is also why diets don’t work – they are too short-term and only shrink your fats cells, which simply leads to adiposity rebound – and you know what that means!

Set point theory suggests that following 9 months at a particular weight our bodies will re-set the “set point”, linked to the current number and size of fat cells. In other words, if you can lose weight and maintain it for at least 9 months, you have a good chance of long-term maintenance of the new lower weight. (Conversely if you are overweight for more than 9 months, this will become your new set point, and losing weight will be more difficult.) This is seen as the “ratcheting” effect of continual weight gain through life – or chronic hyperplasic adiposity.


Behavioural Change

You’ve always suspected it, but we can confirm that behavioural changes are the only way to successful long-term weight management. In order to achieve your goals, three things are required:

  • Identifying and accepting your personal negative or counterproductive behaviour
  • Developing meaningful strategies and systems for ensuring that you can change
  • Maintaining the motivation to make those changes become a permanent feature of your life

Try not to make too many changes all at once, and celebrate each small change as they will conflate to make an enormous difference. Take one step at a time, and never underestimate the importance of the goals that you have set yourself.

Identifying weaknesses

How often have you started a healthy eating regime, or an exercise programme, only for something to happen to scupper your progress? Or perhaps your best intentions just fizzled out?

Write down some issues that have defeated you in the past, and start a plan to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

Why do I buy the foods that make things difficult for me?
I will shop smarter and this is how I will do that:

What are my weakness foods?
I will avoid these by:

When am I most vulnerable?
I can combat this by:

My resolve collapses when
Next time this happens I will:

I overeat when
I will ensure that:


Why do we put on weight?

There are many issues involving weight gain, including environmental, biological and behavioural factors, many of which are complex and interrelated, some of which are not fully understood. The simple reason why we are all getting fatter is that we are eating far more calorie dense foods than ever before and are much less active.


We are all born with a specific body type or “somatotype”.



Long bones, slim, little body fat, low potential for muscle growth.


Heavy bones, broad hands, broad chest, triangular shape.


Small bones, short limbs, wide hips, generally “round” gain weight easily.

It is true that everyone is dealt a genetic hand of cards at birth. Studies of twins have demonstrated that even when separated and living in different environments, people will tend to retain the parental genetic shape, and are often inclined to put on weight alongside lean non-related siblings.

Often this can lead to resentment in overweight families at what they see as an unfair burden that they must carry through life. People will often use their perceived “bad hand” to abrogate their responsibility to make the right lifestyle choices, making things get progressively worse. It is essential to remember, that although we all start life with a set hand of cards, ultimately it is how we play those cards that really matters – no one has to be overweight.

It’s mainly environmental

The overwhelming scientific evidence that is now backed by almost all governments and health authorities, is that the major reason for the epidemic of obesity facing the western world, is a diet far too high in energy dense foods (fat and sugar) combined with a marked reduction in activity levels. This is demonstrated by the simple equation:

Calorie intake – calorie expenditure = calorie deficit/surplus

Although this equation is too simplistic to provide all the answers to successful weight management, it remains the foundation of maintaining a healthy body weight.