Having dream abs: myth or reality?
We all know at least one person who eats for three and who rarely lifts weights but who curiously always sports well-muscled abs. In addition to giving us a reason to curse this genetic gift, these cases also highlight the difficulty of proposing rules for having beautiful abs.
Elements like genetics, gender and stress can play a role in weight loss (or weight gain). Proposing step-by-step instructions for having a well-muscled abdomen is therefore difficult. Believing myths and rumors on your quest for visible abs won’t help you reach your goal.
Whether you are a Jedi or a training padawan seeking to have beautiful abs, allow us to distinguish between myth and reality when it comes to achieving this goal.
Myth # 1: You can have abs even with the wrong diet
Treat yourself to junk food and your stomach (as well as your arms, teeth, legs, arteries, skin, etc.) will be in poor condition. Getting abs starts in the kitchen with a healthy diet. Even when you choose your food well and reduce your sodium absorption to reduce the bloating effect and water retention, your portion size is essential since it is always possible to abuse healthy foods. Here’s a universal truth: consume more calories than you burn and you will gain weight. Understand no abs!
Myth # 2: Carbohydrates Kill Abs
Carbohydrates are essential nutrients that your body uses as fuel. So no, carbohydrates don’t destroy your abs. However, fast-digesting carbohydrates like white bread, energy drinks, and potatoes can create a spike in insulin which can hinder weight loss. (It is best to consume these types of carbohydrates after a workout as they will help your recovery.) Instead, get your carbohydrates from sources like fruits, vegetables, brown rice, whole grain pasta, beans, and oatmeal. When possible, avoid mutant foods created in laboratories and for which you need an interpreter to pronounce the name.
Myth # 3: You Must Do Abs
The abs are the most popular exercises for strengthening your abdomen. However, they are not the only options available to you. If you do not want to work horizontally, try this: Russian twists, scorpion tails, knee lifts by holding on to a fixed bar, abs using a fixed rope or the side bends. Vary your exercises and repetitions and add resistance and weights to make your abdomen stronger and to have better abdominals.
Myth # 4: Supplements will cover my abdominal disabilities
Supplements like caffeine and green tea have fat-burning properties, but they won’t do all the work for your abs. Unfortunately, for most of us, there are no shortcuts to having beautiful abs. We need rigorous workouts, little body fat and rest.
Myth 5: Better slow repetitions
According to a Spanish study, rapid repetitions allow muscle activity to increase in the right muscles of the abdomen, in the external and internal obliques as well as in the erector muscles of the spine. Alternating repetition speeds, however, is a more effective approach.
Myth # 6: You can work your abs daily
It is certainly possible but you would make them work too much. The abs are a muscle so treat them the same as your biceps, deltoids or quadriceps.
Myth # 7: Reducing body fat in certain places is good for your abs
Doing abs until you exhaust does not guarantee you will have well-drawn abs if a layer of fat covers them. As explained before, a strict diet combined with regular training is a great way to reduce your body fat. Keep in mind, however, that external factors also come into play. When you are stressed, for example, your cortisol level increases which can hinder your ability to lose weight. A recent study published in the Journal of Sleep involving 225 adults found that people who go to bed later eat unhealthy foods before bed, which, unsurprisingly, leads to weight gain.