Six-Pack Abs and Carbohydrates
Six-Pack Abs Series, Part 3:
In parts one and two of our six-packs abs series, we uncovered some major truths when it comes to getting a nice set of six-pack abs. We went over different aspects of what you should do, and things you should definitely avoid when trying to get healthy, get fit, and lose the unwanted fat.
In part three, we will be diving full force into a very popular topic in the fitness community: six-pack abs and carbohydrates. Everyone seems to have their own opinion when it comes to carbohydrates. Some fear them, telling you to avoid them at all costs. Others put limitations on the amount to eat, while others will tell you that the majority of your diet should come from carbohydrates. With all the differentiating views out there, how can you ever figure out what to believe?
After years of research and testing out different nutrition styles I have an answer for you today to settle the debate once and for all on the topic of carbohydrates and six-pack abs. You see, carbohydrates are not a bad thing when you utilize and time them properly.
You can make carbohydrates work to your advantage when tying to get six-pack abs and I will show you exactly how you can do that! Carbohydrates are in fact an essential part when trying to get six-pack abs and they are a must on your nutrition plan.
Why Carbohydrates Get A Bad Rap:
The human body is a machine, and an incredible one at that. It is designed to adapt to anything that gets throw at it and that includes the foods that we feed it. See our body is designed to work for us, and not against us. However, many times with the typical diet today, we give our bodies no other choice but to work against us.
Any time you digest carbohydrates (this includes breads, pastas, muffins, candy, sodas, sports drinks, rice, oats, etc.) our bodies break them down into a simple form of sugar called glucose.
When glucose enters the blood stream, it causes our pancreas to produce a hormone known as insulin. Insulin’s job is to come in and shuttle the glucose out of our blood stream and store it in our muscles throughout the body.
Now when glucose gets stored, it gets stored as glycogen. Our bodies use glycogen as muscle fuel when going through an intense workout. However, serious problems start to arise when we do not use up the glycogen that is in our muscles.
When you are inactive, your muscles fill up very quickly causing an excess of glucose to stay in the blood stream. To shuttle the glucose out of the blood stream, the body once again has to call upon insulin to do its job of getting the glucose stored somewhere in the body. This time however, with our muscle receptors filled up, insulin has no other option but to store the excess glucose as fat!
The scary thing is, many people do this to their body every single meal without even realizing what is causing them to continue to gain weight and put on fat. They are following what they have been told for years, and are eating healthy by incorporating lots of “healthy” grains and carbs. What they don’t realize is all carbohydrates that we eat get broken down into glucose (or sugar) when the body digests them. And if you are inactive, this is a recipe for disaster!
With all that said, should you really stop eating carbohydrates all together? Of course not. Our bodies need carbohydrates for many different reasons, and that is why you should continue reading!
Understanding The Different Kinds Of Carbohydrates:
There are three different kinds of carbohydrate sources that I want to quickly go over before moving on. Each of these causes the body to respond differently, so it is important you understand the difference between the three:
- Simple: Simple forms of carbohydrates get digested very quickly and rush through our bodies at rapid speeds. They contain very little essential vitamins and minerals, and most simple carbohydrates contain refined sugars! They will give the body a near immediate boost of energy, but will always follow with a big energy crash. Examples are fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas, candy, table sugar, and milk.
You should avoid simple forms of carbohydrates unless it is during your cheat day (more on that in a second).
- Complex: Complex carbohydrates take the body longer to digest, providing you with longer lasting energy than simple carbs. Some examples include sweet potatoes, yams, beans, potatoes, oatmeal, and rice.
The more active you are, the more complex carbohydrates you are going to need. If you are constantly engaging in high intensity workout sessions, your body will need to be fueled with more complex carbohydrates in order to aid in recovery, help burn unwanted fat, and build lean muscle.
- Fibrous Carbohydrates: Fibrous carbohydrates leave your feeling more full and results in longer lasting energy. This kind of carbohydrate has very little affect on blood sugar levels, so you will not have an energy crash when eating them. These are packed with great vitamins and minerals that our bodies use and need. Fibrous carbohydrates include broccoli, asparagus, brussle sprouts, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, and other green leafy vegetables.
You should eat as much fibrous carbohydrates as you want. You should include them with every meal. They are full of great nutrients and have incredible fat burning properties.
Best Time To Incorporate Carbohydrates:
As you can see from above, there is a big difference in the kinds of carbohydrate sources that you choose. If you are inactive, eating too many simple and/or complex carbs can be dangerous because your body will have no option but to store them as fat. And yes this includes whole wheat and whole grain foods.
Your body treats all simple and complex carbs the same in the sense that they eventually get broken down into glucose (or sugar). Now yes, simple carbs are much worse for you but eating too many complex carbs can also be detrimental to your health if you do not eat them at the right times or are inactive.
There are two prime times that you should focus on getting the majority of your carbohydrates in during the day: After an intense workout and during your cheat meals.
1. After an intense workout:
When you put yourself through an intense workout you use up the glycogen that is being stored in your muscles. This means you are opening up more muscle receptors for more glucose to be stored. After an intense workout, your body is craving complex carbohydrates, and indulging in them at this time will have no affect on weight gain. In fact, by incorporating good sources of complex carbohydrates (and protein of course) after a workout, you are fueling your muscles to help with recovery, accelerating fat loss, and helping to build lean muscle.
After a workout session, complex carbs will work far better in replenishing your muscles than fibrous carbs will. Some good options would be sweet potatoes, beans, oatmeal, or rice.
Remember, the more active you are the more your body will need complex carbs. If you feel you need to eat more carbohydrates because of your activity level, try to incorporate them around the times that you workout (before and after) or earlier in the day. All other meals should focus on getting good sources of protein, good fats, and tons of vegetables.
If you are inactive it is recommended that you focus on getting most if not all of your carbohydrates from vegetables, and then when you workout you should add in the complex carbs within 30 minutes after you finish.
2. Cheat meals:
You have two different options when it comes to cheat meals: You can either spread them out over the course of the week or combine them all into a full day bonanza. I will explain both:
- Cheat Day: The first option for cheat meals is to combine them into a full day of cheat meals. Here is how it works:
A cheat day can and should happen one time per week. This means you will eat incredibly healthy meals for six straight days, then on the seventh day of the week you will eat anything and everything your heart desires. This includes donuts, pizza, pancakes, cookies, candy, soda, etc. I am talking about anything that you want.
The reason a cheat day works so well when it comes to fat loss is because when you restrict certain foods for a certain period of time, your metabolism and fat burning starts to slow down. So by properly timing a cheat day, what you are actually doing is signaling the body that it is ok to continue to burn fat.
This cheat day will boost your metabolism and fat burning into even better zones than before. The best part is, it usually takes 6-7 days for your metabolism to start slowing so having a cheat day once every 6-7 days is perfect timing to boost your fat burning up to its most optimal levels. Pretty sweet, right?
- Cheat Meals Throughout The Week: Many people find it far too difficult to go a full 6-7 days without eating something they are really craving. So if this is you, having 3-4 cheat meals over the course of each week is recommended.
I find it helpful to plan out the times when you will indulge in your cheat meals for that week. For example, if you have an urge for pizza, plan on eating healthy for two straight days then at lunch on the third day order a pizza. A good balance for healthy foods to junk foods is 85% to 15%. If you eat healthy foods 85% of the time and enjoy 3-4 cheat meals each week, you will be very happy with the results you will get.
Take note that you should not combine cheat meals throughout the week and still have a full cheat day once per week. You should choose one or the other. It is all about balance when it comes to eating healthy. Find the plan that works for you, cheat meals or a cheat day, and stick to it. Make all your other meals incredibly nutritious by combining good sources of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and carbohydrates when needed!
The secret to properly incorporating carbohydrates into your diet to help maximize your efforts to getting healthy and getting six-pack abs is based off of three things: when you eat them, which kind you eat, and how many carbohydrates you indulge in.
- When to eat carbs: You should eat fibrous carbohydrates whenever possible throughout the day and eat as much as you want. Complex carbohydrates are best when incorporated after workout sessions. If you are more active you can incorporate more carbs into your day, preferable around workout times or earlier in the day. For those that are less active, focus on eating your complex carbs only after your workouts (within 30 minutes).
- Which kinds should you eat: Avoid eating simple forms of carbohydrates and carbs that have been processed (unless it is your cheat day). Focus on getting tons of fibrous and complex carbohydrates that contain only one ingredient. This would include all vegetables, beans, legumes, sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and rice.
- How many should you eat: Depending on your activity level would determine the amount of carbohydrates you should eat each day. If you are not active, your focus should be getting tons of protein, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables as your carb source. If you are very active, you can include more carbs throughout your day. For best fat loss results, focus on eating your complex carbs after workouts or earlier in the day!
If you are trying to lose fat and and get fit fast, do not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Carbohydrates are a much needed nutrient that when utilized properly will bring some incredible results. By combining the nutrition rules we went over in part two of our series and properly timing your carbohydrates you are setting yourself up for serious fat burn and lean muscle gain.
Keep up the hard work and keep an eye out for part four of our six-pack abs series!
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