You may have heard the phrase, “six packs are made in the kitchen” several times, but what does that actually mean and how does a six-pack diet look like?
Let me walk you through the basics of getting a visible six pack and why your diet plays a big part in it. If you are in a hurry you can simply scroll down to my infographic about “six-pack diet”.
Everybody has six pack!
Yes, it’s the truth but they might be hidden below some fat 🙂 and therefore the six pack is not visible. But it’s there; trust me.
For most men, their six pack starts to become visible when their fat is below 20%. At 15%, they are really visible. For women, we need to go below 25% before something happens. However, this is only a rule of thumb as it’s not only about the percentage of the fat.
Big and small muscles
The abdominal muscles, which are the muscles we talk about when we talk “six pack”, are like any other muscle different in size and strength from person to person. In other words, if they are trained they will grow in size and therefore become visible even with a higher fat percentage. However, if they aren’t trained you will need a lower fat percentage to make them visible.
Now we know that we need to have some decent-sized abdominal muscles and at the same time get rid of belly fat to make the six pack visible.
In this article we will focus on a six-pack diet; however, as with strengthening the abs in order to make the muscles bigger, it could also be a good idea to do some conditioning workout to support your diet in getting rid of the fat. One fantastic way to do this is with real HIIT, which you can read more about here.
Back to the diet.
A simple way to lose weight is to stop eating. That’s it! Your weight will start to drop day by day. 🙂 But then again, this is probably not the most fun way to do it and at the same time also not the smartest way to do it if you want a six pack.
When we start to restrict our intake of calories or doesn’t give our body any nutrition at all, it will start to compensate and adjust to the new situation.
First, it will shut down the less important functions and then it will start to take energy from other sources to maintain the vital functions. What this basically means is that it will get the energy from our fat, which is good, but also from our muscles, which is really bad if we want visible abs.
So if controlling calorie intake isn’t the answer, what then is?
Well, a final step could be to control the calorie intake. But before we do that there is a smarter way to reach our goal of “removing belly fat to get a visible six pack”.
You see, our body is actually really intelligent and an expert in surviving. It will react upon what kind of nutrition it is given.
To explain it in a simple way, and I have to stress it’s simple as the reality is extremely complex and still not understood by any experts. When the body is given a “complex diet” that consist of proteins, carbohydrates, essential fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals, it is kept busy in a natural way by digesting and extracting all the good stuff before it considers storing fat.
However, if we serve our body a “simple diet”, mostly consisting of empty calories like sugar and other refined/processed food, the body only sees a lot of energy and it starts a reaction in order to handle all this energy, which will mostly be stored as fat.
The keyword in all this is “insulin”.
Insulin is a hormone in healthy people that regulates our blood sugar increase, which especially happens when we consume empty calories/simple carbohydrates.
As a human being, we need insulin in order to break down sugar. This is why diabetic patients need to be injected with insulin to avoid increased blood sugar levels.
A sudden rise of insulin levels will help store the energy in our muscles. When our muscles are full of energy, some are stored in our liver. Finally, it will start to store the remaining energy as fat. Therefore, increased levels of insulin also mean storing more fat and burning no fat. So we want to keep the insulin production under control.
From the above, we learned that we should avoid empty calories and simple carbohydrates, like sugar, in order to keep the insulin levels under control. This guarantees minimum fat storage and maximum fat burning. But where else can we find sugar apart from empty calories and simple carbohydrates? Let’s try to list them.
We don’t need it even though our brain loves it. Sugar has nothing else to offer than energy and when the body is breaking it down it needs to steal nutrients from the body to process it.
It will release high levels of insulin, which will quickly pull out the energy and store a lot as fat. This means you will very soon feel hungry again, as the energy has been taken out and stored.
In short, this is “artificial food” or the stuff that can last for a long time and takes no time to prepare.
The issue is that it’s produced with profit and not health in mind. It is often added sugar and very low-quality oils. Also, it contains very little vitamins and minerals. Again, it’s just about taste (sugar) and energy (simple carbs/low-quality oils)
Most diet products with low calories have the same problem. The low calories come from the simple carbs.
Refined food/“white food”
White bread, pasta, rice
As seen above, these products are artificial products and all the good stuff like vitamins, minerals, and fibers have been removed.
Try to replace them with whole grain products, but remember it’s still carbohydrates. Therefore, you still need to control your intake.
Red wine and beer are better than drinks, but you should limit your intake both due to general problems with alcohol but also due to the simple carbohydrates.
Sweetener (Diet coke, Pepsi Maxi, etc.)
There are no calories and no carbohydrates, so what is the problem?
First of all, we know very little about the impact on our health from these products. Secondly, we think we fool our body but we don’t. When the body finds out that the intake has no calories at all, it will just panic and ask for more.
Starch (Potato, whole grain products)
We want to limit the intake of “white food” and replace it with whole grain products, but we still need to control them, as they have a lot of “fast” carbohydrates that increases our blood sugar.
You should eat fruits, especially berries, pears, and apples, but avoid juices as the fibers, vitamins and minerals are not the same as in real fruit.
Control your intake to 1-3 pieces a day, as natural sugar has the same impact on your blood sugar as refined sugar.
To make it simpler, here are two lists: one for what we should have in our kitchen and one for the food we should remove from our kitchen.
Candy – chips – soft drinks – juice – margarine – trans fats – all kind of sugar – “white food” flour, pasta, rice, white bread – light products – processed food – ice cream – cookies – cakes – cereals
Below, you have an infographic to clarify how a good six-pack diet looks like. To summarize, make sure to eat natural food and stay away from refined and processed food. This is the best way to tell your body to stop storing fat and instead use it as energy.If you want a professional explanation about the “insulin problem” please have a look here.