How to get Abs Fast: Save Your Waistline (and your life)

Pants fitting tighter? Struggling to lose weight? If you’ve noticed an increase in fat around your belly and want to get abs fast, you’re in good company. According to the CDC, as of 2012, 69% of the US population are now classified as overweight or obese, with an accumulation of fat in and around the abdomen one of the most commonly reported problem-areas, especially in men.

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The expanding waistline of the average American has been felt across the health sector, too, prompting a rise in preventable diseases including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Belly-fat gain can be linked to many factors, including lifestyle choices, environmental conditions, gender and age-related decline of hormones such as testosterone. However, it is important to recognize that personal choices and making informed decisions can significantly slow and counteract (most) unwanted physiological changes in the body. This is especially true for weight management and body composition.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The first step to getting back in shape is taking responsibility for your actions. This means re-thinking how you view food and exercise and slowly making positive, incremental changes in your lifestyle. Before embarking on any such changes, make an appointment with your local GP for a check-up. They will also be able to guide you on how to best approach your goal.

Next, it’s time to re-asses your diet. If you’re like most Americans, your diet is high in heavily processed, calorie-laden foods which contain trans fats and preservatives. These ready-made foods, which you typically find among the ‘inner’ supermarket isles, are often loaded with salt and sugar and lacking in important macro-nutrients and vitamins.

Gains in belly fat are largely attributable to excess calorie consumption. For this reason, limit your intake of fast food and alcoholic drinks, like wine and beer, in favor of natural, ‘real’ foods including a wide variety of fruit, veg, lean meats, fish, legumes, nuts, and grains.

It’s also highly advisable to completely cut out (if you can) soft drinks from your diet. Most people are simply unaware of how much sugar is found in popular brands like Coca Cola, and how it relates to belly fat and disease. In fact, just one 355ml can of Coca Cola delivers a whopping 39g of sugar per serve! Healthier options include green tea, vegan and whey protein drinks, coffee and plain water.

Make a daily food plan and prepare food accordingly for 4 small, healthy meals and keep a food diary to track your progress.

Next, you’ll want to address your levels of activity. Exercise has tremendous benefits for your mind and body. If you’re just starting out, activities like cycling and swimming are excellent as they’re low-impact, placing limited stress and strain on joints, and can be tailored to fit your desired level of intensity.

Contrary to the beliefs of many people, you don’t need to perform any exercise which ‘targets’ your abdominal region to burn off belly fat and achieve results. The same can be said for the ‘fat burning zone’ commonly prescribed by fitness professionals as the optimal heart rate (BPM) required to burn fat.

The reality is that any sort of exercise, the higher the intensity the better, will contribute to your fat loss efforts and should be actively encouraged. This includes taking advantage of everyday opportunities like choosing to walk to the shops instead of taking the car or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

You’ll also want to minimize your sitting-time. Humans are designed to move, so prolonged sitting periods, like working in front of a computer, can contribute to belly fat gain. Make the effort to get up and get moving every half an hour (roughly) to stay lean and healthy.

Finally, it’s important to consider your emotional state and take steps to manage stress to optimize and balance hormone production. Stress and mental depression can cripple testosterone levels and elevate cortisol levels, both of which can lead to decreased lean muscle mass and unwanted fat gain around the midriff.

It should be noted that physical changes take time, which emphasizes the importance of being consistent in your diet and exercise regimen before abandoning your approach or losing motivation due to lack of results. For more information, I recommend watching the following video

A Simple Diet Plan for Women

BOOST YOUR BRAIN POWER WITH OMEGA-3: Research in neurology has shown that eating more omega-3 fatty acids means you’ll have a bigger brain when you’re older. This news isn’t just good news for doing your weekend crosswords – decreased brain volume has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Increasing your amount of omega-3 from sources including oily fish (i.e. salmon),  and fish-oil supplements and flax seed oil delays the normal loss of brain cells by one to two years.

For more information on healthy eating for women and diet plans checkout http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_women_nutrition.htm and leanrunnerbean.com

A HEALTHY BREAKFAST START: It’s true what your mother told you ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Most people get it wrong though or skip it altogether. Here’s 3 fast, easy breakfasts to get you off to a great start:

1. TURKISH TOAST WITH TOMATO: Toast 60g split wholemeal Turkish bread. Spread with 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese. Top with sliced roma tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of dukkah.

2. BANANA & KIWIFRUIT CEREAL: Have 45g all-bran cereal, 1 wheat breakfast biscuit, 160ml skim milk, 1/2 chopped banana and 2 chopped kiwifruit.

3. FRUIT MUFFIN BANANA: Toast 1 (65g) split fruit English muffin. Spread with 2 tablespoons low-fat ricotta cheese and top with a lightly mashed banana. Serve with sliced strawberries.

4. POACHED EGG & HAM: Spread 1/2 (35g) toasted wholemeal English muffin with 1 tablespoon tomato chutney. Top with 30g 97% fat-free sliced ham and 1 poached egg. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives.

LUNCH: You wouldn’t send your little one off to school with a healthy, pre-prepared lunch, right? Well, neither should you. When you make your own lunch, you have more time to think about portion sizes and ingredients which helps curb cravings for foods that are convenient and often sugar-laden. Here’s two super simple, healthy lunches you can make and take with you to work.

BEAN & SALSA WRAP: Microwave 1/4 cup (65g) tomato salsa and 130g can rinsed, drained red kidney beans for 1 minute. Microwave 1 (40g) wholegrain tortilla for 20 seconds. Spread bean mixture over tortilla. Top with 1/2 grated carrot, 1/2 cup shredded cos lettuce, 30g grated reduced-fat cheese. Roll up and enjoy.

TURKEY TORTILLA: Top 1 (25g) mini wheat tortilla with 50g shaved shaved turkey breast, 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, 20g baby spinach leaves, 2 sliced green shallots, 30g fat-reduced cheese and another tortilla. Cook in a sandwich press.

HEALTHY SNACKS & TREATS: When you get peckish at home or on the job, try one of our delicious snack ideas below. Having regular, healthy snacks throughout the day is important to keep you going between meals. Regular snacking also helps to keep energy and blood-sugar levels steady and prevents unhealthy binging.

FRUIT & NUTS: Have 1 apple cut into wedges with 2 tablespoons walnuts.

PEAR & NUTELLA SPREAD: Spread 1 (35g) slice toasted multi-grain bread with 1 teaspoon of nutella spread. Top with 1 thinly sliced small cored pear.

INDIAN CAULIFLOWER: Combine 1/2 cup (50g) reduced-fat cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon mango and ginger chutney. Have with 1 cup small cauliflower florets.

KEEP MEAL TIMES REGULAR: When you’re busy or distracted with work or kids you often forget to eat until you’re feeling ravenous. And that’s usually the time where healthy eating is pushed aside for a quick-fix. Instead, try and set regular meal times. This will keep your  metabolism ticking over and will help you recognize if you’re eating because you’re feeling emotional or bored.

MAKE IT FUN! There’s nothing worse than bland, boring foods or cooking the same thing week in week-out with no variety. Spice things up a bit! You don’t have to arrange your veggies into a funny face to find food interesting and the spark back into your diet plan. Beat mealtime monotony by adding in some new ingredients or recipes. Try new exotic fruits, like quince or dragon-fruit, when they pop up at the supermarket. Or make it your mission to cook a new recipe once a week.

LIVE GUILT-FREE: Sticking to any kind of diet without splurging on your favorite foods occasionally is tough and often leads to giving up. Adults tend to over-think ‘treat’ foods and feel bad for not following their healthy eating plan. The fix? Think like a child – eat it, love it, then move on and get back on track. The take home message here is if you indulge, take the time to enjoy it!

EAT YOUR FILL & NO MORE! If you often find yourself eating quickly, or multi-tasking while eating, make a conscious effort to eat your meals away from distractions. Doing this will make you more aware of what you’re putting in your mouth and (hopefully) stop you from polishing off a huge serving. Remember, it can take 15 minutes for your brain to register fullness, so you can easily get through a large amount of food before you realize you’re full.