There are diets for health and muscle gain but what diet is best for six pack abs? That’s what I will answer in this post. The information is based on my personal experience and an averaging of the advice from other bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts that have found what works for them.
NOTE – Now days I am not so abdominal focused. I eat plant based and take protein supplements. I stay away from processed foods and drink my water. That’s about it. No diet, no stress. But I stay healthy and about 1 month from beach condition year round.
Now on with the diet…
Sometimes this game of fitness can get downright frustrating. You do your best, usually more than the average bear if you have been at it for a while, but you still don’t see your 6 pack.
If you do get into amazing shape, you can only make it last for a couple weeks.
This happened to me after my last bodybuilding contest. I was in great shape on stage and then had to watch most of it slip away as I returned to the land of normal eating and once-a-day workouts.
Obviously you can’t hold contest condition all year but it would be nice to stay relatively close, especially for me being a fitness trainer and all.
I mean, my clients poke my tummy and ask me to make muscles, so things have to look petty good. So how do you stay lean but not suffer through being shredded all year? Well I’m disciplined but sometimes it’s not the discipline but the knowledge that’s lacking.
I hate diet information overload, it seems you ask a simple question and you get many answers these days. Then you have to go and decide which one is right, but when YOU decide instead of an expert, you always have that little doubt that keeps you thinking, “Maybe I’m not doing this diet thing right”.
So the big question is, out of the millions of diets out there, which one is right for you and your body type?
You want a lean midsection that can be maintained while eating relatively sane and you still look great.
My Method Of Eating For A Six Pack
Here is what I came up with-its nothing new (don’t stop reading!) it’s just a new twist on several methods that have worked over the years and are proven. So here comes common sense and a little science.
Before we move on, I’d like to say that I do strongly favour The Zone diet and a modified Atkins diet (now commonly called KETO) (ish) over just about any of the “out of the box” diets that you can find out there. These I favour year round.
But to dial it in, here is my diet plan for getting a six pack in a month.
The above six pack diets are not as extreme as what I do and am about to describe below. They are however, healthy, safe and can be maintained year round without going insane. Plus, you will look great on them if you exercise hard.
My Short Term Fat Busting Six Pack Diet Plan
Now lets get onto the short term fat buster diet I use when I find myself looking forward to a vacation that is going to involve taking my shirt off on the beach.
High carbs, low carbs or no carbs? Carbs release insulin leading to fat storage when consumed in excess amounts. If you eat the wrong carbs you can get mood swings and changing energy levels and crashes. Then to combat this you have to eat more carbs starting the cycle all over.
I thought for a while, I just wont eat any and that will solve the problem! Don’t laugh, this works but not forever, and it’s not too healthy. The thing is though, carbs are really anabolic and are very useful in producing muscle mass and promoting recovery from your gym sessions, so I want some and so should you.
Muscles increase metabolic rate so having more muscle burns more calories and the babes (guys and girls) love em! Not to mention that carbs have the less significant job of keeping brain function normal (some of my clients are starting to understand my sometimes strange behavior)!
Another thing is that when you’re on a zero carb diet for more than two weeks your t3 levels drop 47%! This means your metabolism slows, that’s a major bummer for progress to say the least.
However, 50 grams of carbs a day will prevent this. So this means that now we know we need at least 50 grams a day to keep t3 levels up.
Another consideration is that the body needs some carbs daily to manufacture oxaloacetate. This chemical makes sure your Krebs cycle is still able to produce A.T.P., which is basically the spark that fuels all physical movement inside the cell.
So the bottom line is that you need some carbs. Granted you can run off ketones from ketosis but you don’t get the anabolic effect of the carbs and your breath will stink! There is no point in having a sexy six-pack if no one wants to get close enough to see them!
So at least 50 grams per day to keep up the metabolism..and keep the bad breath away.
Eating Carbs And Still Having 6 Pack Abs
The next question becomes is there any way to get more carbs in without them being stored as fat? Because if carbs are anabolic it would be nice to get as many as you can without the fat gain. Well you bet there is! After you workout there is an anabolic window where all or most of the carbs you consume are shuttled directly into the muscle cells or used to refill your glycogen stores in the liver.
One study even went as far as to say that 900 grams of carbs could be consumed after exercise without any spillover! I tried to track down the reference on that one but couldn’t find it.
Seems awful high to me but such is mystery of scientific experiments huh? I guess.
At any rate, the general consensus in the magazines and talking with other like minded trainers is that 50-200 grams is allowed without spillover after the workout, I use 100 grams of maltodextrin in powdered form. You can get this at most health food stores.
This is however a great time to sneak in that treat that seems to sneak into your eating plan at other times. My favorite “off the wagon” post workout snack is a Caramilk bar and a protein shake. So that means we have 50 grams of carbs a day and 150 on workout days, so we are still pretty low but the entire productive basis of carbs is covered. So we have the minimum’s but you can go higher and it just becomes a matter of experimentation with how much you can handle without fat gain.
We have the anabolic properties of carbohydrates in the diet as well as normal t3 levels. Over all however the calories are low and you must take in enough to get you through the day. How many? Lets figure it out.
How Many Calories To Eat And Get Abs
If you work out you should have 1 gram per pound of bodyweight of protein, 1.5 if you are really giving it in the gym and do manual labor. So that works out to 285 grams or 1140 calories for the typical bodybuilder at 190 pounds (or me, which ever comes first!)
Then the carbohydrates at 150 grams or 600 calories. Add them up and you get 1740! Not much to work on, but we haven’t figured out the fat yet!
For optimum testosterone levels 20% of your diet should be fat. Some might say that’s too high, maybe but most people are on higher carb diets right?
It’s the combo of insulin and fat totalling too many calories in the wrong environment that makes you store fat not the fat itself. With higher carbs that means that they don’t use fat as a fuel source because the body prefers carbs.
So now we need to figure out what 20% of our total caloric intake is. I guess that means we should figure out our daily intake! In order to find out how many calories you need in a day use this. It is the same method registered dieticians use, the Harris Benedict Equation.
You could do it manually below or just go to the web site in the recommended resources at the end of this article and it will figure it out for you.
- Convert your weight from pounds to kilograms. Take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2. For example: 190 lb / 2.2 = 86.3 kg;
- Convert your height from inches to centimeters. Take your height in inches and multiply it by 2.54. For example: 58 in. x 2.54 = 172.72 cm.
Basal Energy Expenditure (BEE) And Fat Loss
Listed below are the equations, for both men and women, in order to calculate your Basal Energy Expenditure (BEE). Your BEE is the amount of energy you need in order to maintain your weight at bed rest or no activity.
Therefore, your BEE is also used as the standard for your total calories needed when you are active and want to get a six pack because the activity will cause the calorie deficiency needed.
Males: 66 + [13.7 x (weight in kg)] + [5.0 x (height in cm)] – [6.8 x (age in yrs)] = BEE (in calories);
Females: 655 + [9.6 x (weight in kg)] + [1.8 x (height in cm)] – [4.7 x (age in yrs)] = BEE (in calories);
So for me we have 1935.11 calories to maintain bodyweight without any activity. So with the working out I will lose weight with this number.
Back to the fat intake. To get the number you need, multiply the overall calories by .20 and that will give you 20%. It works out to 387 calories or 43 grams. Remember that there is 9 calories per gram for fat. That’s the minimum of fat you want, so a little over is fine and if you require weight gain then make up the rest of your caloric needs through flax seed, olive oil or udos oil – not carbs.
As a side note omega 3 acids that are found in fish oils and flax seed have been shown to combat cardiovascular disease and was beneficial to those with existing cardiac problems.
Six Pack Abs Diet Plan Numbers
Lets crunch all the numbers. I’m going to use the workout days since I train more days than not!
Calories: 1935 or 2435 for weight gain
Carbohydrates: 150 on work out days (600 calories)
Fat at 20%: 487 calories or 54 grams
Protein at 1.5 grams/pound of bodyweight: 285 grams or 1140 calories
So protein plus carbs plus fat equals 2227 calories, which is a happy medium between fat loss and optimum muscle gain. If you want more weight loss drop off some carbs so your at your BEE and if you want more muscle gain add in a couple more table spoons of flaxseed oil or olive oil. So at this count you get optimum fat, carb and protein levels.
Just a couple of more tips. Make sure you get adequate fiber intake. Take in some bran or Metamucil to the tune of 25 grams a day. The other option that I do is get almost all my carbohydrates in the form of steamed veggies.
I’m talking about four cooked cups per meal. This is how you feel full when you are not eating a ton and it really stops the cravings.
If you’re really after some fat loss try my favorite of instant coffee with a green tea bag in it. The taste is acquired for sure but if you’re not into taking ephedrine and caffeine it’s a good substitute and it’s cheap. I mean substitute in the way of similar effects. I do not endorse using fat burners in pill form at all!
The protein is high on this diet so a whey supplement is really helpful. One thing you may want to watch for if your concerned about the health risks of the high fat (which of most are unfounded because of the type of fats we use) is to combat a possible high homocyteine levels (a precursor to several medical conditions) by supplementing some folic acid at about 1 mg/day with some b6 and b12.
Its interesting to note that in a study done in SAN DIEGO, CA on June 15, 1999, a very high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet was shown to have astounding effects in helping type 2 diabetics lose weight and improve their blood lipid profiles.
Dr. James Hays, an endocrinologist and director of the Limestone Medical Center in Wilmington, DE, admitted that the concept of a high-fat diet in people who are already at higher risk of cardiovascular disease might seem incongruous. But this study of 157 men and women with type 2 diabetes showed an impressive benefit in body mass index (BMI) triglycerides, HDL, LDL and HbA1c.
Again I am not a doctor so these are just recommendations I follow because I am not a nutritionist and am not qualified to speak on the validity of these studies. I choose to share them with you so you know what created my results. The choice to use my methods is up to you and your doctor.
The New York Times also just laid out an article about Dr. Atkins which is a very interesting read for those that want to know more about this. It seems that the A.M.A. attacked Atkins’s diet as a ”bizarre regimen” that advocated ”an unlimited intake of saturated fats and cholesterol-rich foods,” and Atkins even had to defend his diet in Congressional hearings!
The key is to eat only healthy fats, get your protein and eat lots of vegetables if you want to look lean and lose belly fat so you can have 6 pack abs.
With this diet you get all the positives of carbs and none of the negatives. Your protein sources are unlimited because you don’t have to worry about fat and it’s easy to maintain all year.
If you get some cravings you can up your carbs every 5 days or so as long as you drop some fat out. I do this by adding a cup of rice to each meal on that day. Its heaven but you probably won’t believe me until you try it.
These days wont be so great for fat loss but they offer some variety so you can stay on the diet for long periods of time without burnout from the same foods. They also provide an up for your metabolism and keep you from hitting a plateau.
Conclusion On Dieting For A Six Pack
Really, when it comes down to the wire, staying lean is all about consistency so you need to try something that isn’t too tedious.
If you are pregnant or have any doubts about your health ask your doctor about any or all of my methods that I myself use.
If you are told not to partake in these methods, then don’t. This has proven to work well for getting a lean midsection. The verdict is always out on what the healthiest diet is.