Every day, I get asked about how someone can get a six-pack. People are always surprised when I tell them it is 80 percent diet. But they are even more surprised when I tell them that they are also probably working out too much. I uncover all of the truth in my new book, Eat This, Not That! For Abs, but I wanted to also help out some Eat This, Not That! readers who took to Twitter to send me their burning ab Qs. Check ’em out below; I guarantee you’ll learn something that changes your belly fat attack plan by the time you get to the end!
Editor’s note: Twitter questions were lightly edited for clarity.
‘How do get rid of lower abs fat? I have part of a six-pack on my upper abs.” —@cchen7325
LANGOWSKI: It is impossible to target certain areas for fat loss; fat comes off some people in certain areas faster than other areas. For men, the lower abdomen is the last place for abdominal fat to disappear from. For women, it is often the hips and butt. I suggest watching your diet since this last little bit will be from extra junk you may be eating or possibly too much alcohol.
‘I know diet is the most important thing, but how much ab training should I do weekly?’ —@Luisma1974
LANGOWSKI: No more than 3 times per week. Your abs need to recover just like other muscles in your body. You wouldn’t have leg day be every single day, would you? Of course not. So, why would you treat your ab muscles any different? Mon/Wed/Fri or Tue/Thur/Sat is the most you should be targeting your core!
‘What’s the best veggie to put in drinks for a flat belly?’ —@immichaelmorgan
LANGOWSKI: KALE! It helps suppress the appetite while also having the title of being one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Make sure you don’t juice it and remove the fiber from it! Just throw it in a high-power blender and enjoy it in one of your smoothies.
‘How do I lose belly fat? How do I increase running capacity? What do I eat to overcome tiredness?’ —@mrkoolshubham
LANGOWSKI: This could be a very long-winded answer. I go over all of your questions in my book, Eat This, Not That! For Abs. Here are some quick tips to answer your questions, though: To lose the belly fat, remove anything processed from your diet. To help increase running capacity, throw in one or two days of interval training into your current steady pace training. (These intervals are outlined in the book.) To answer your last question, you must get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you want a caffeine boost while also getting in some antioxidants, have a square of extra dark cacao chocolate.
‘What kind of diet should I use to make my waist 38 to 34 without losing muscle?’ —@Ven11Jayesh
LANGOWSKI: Oh, this one is easy. The easy-to-follow plan in Eat This, Not That! For Abs is perfect for you. It has a workout program that will help you build and maintain lean muscle mass and a cardio plan that will help you shed fat without tapping into muscle for energy!
‘What is the basic rule of thumb for achieving a flat stomach and six-pack abs?’ —@b_boogey_xl
LANGOWSKI: I wish it were as easy as one simple rule. But if I had to say something, it would be that if you want a flat stomach, first focus on your diet. You could do all the planks and core training in the world and you will never see that six-pack if your body fat levels aren’t low enough. Check out these healthiest foods on the planet for inspiration.
“Shouldn’t it be easier for women to get flat abs than men since we store fat in different places?’ —@christiegriffin
LANGOWSKI: Yes, typically women do see abdominal definition before men do. Men generally lose weight last in their abdomen while women lose it last in their hips and butt. Although this seems unfair, women go through a lot in their lives and this is one battle I am happy to concede to.
‘If I have lower back pain, what’s the best approach to strengthen my abs & help my lumbar spine?’ —@bucknut25
LANGOWSKI: Great question. If you have any serious pain, you should always see a doctor before starting any type of exercise program. If you feel that your back is just weak in general, then the best way to start is with small durations of front and side planks. Even if you start at 30 seconds, and that is all you can do, that’s okay because you can build on it each time you do them. Before you know it, your core will strengthen and your back pain should start to go away.
‘What are the best exercises for someone with an achy back?’ —@Laribus77
LANGOWSKI: I would start with some basic yoga moves. In my book, I outline a full yoga routine. But to get started, I would focus especially on cat/cow pose, child’s pose, and downward dog. Those will really help with relieving your back pain, if it is a muscular issue.
‘Carbs: A yes or no? If yes, what kind and when?” – @anayeli-garfias
LANGOWSKI: YES! Don’t be afraid of carbs—just be careful. Try and stick to complex carbohydrates: Potatoes, whole grains, vegetables, chickpeas, lentils, beans, and many others! Try to have them with each meal, but only about one-fourth of the plate will make up your meal. These will give you energy to fuel your day and your workouts. Try and really taper off in the evening when you will need less energy. Here’s my list of 15 Foods for Flat Abs!
“What should I eat for recovery that isn’t meat- or dairy-based?’ —@JOROD01
LANGOWSKI: One of the easiest things to do is a shake. Make it with almond milk, berries, ice, and vegan protein powder, and bam! You have a perfect post-workout recovery shake that will help your muscles start rebuilding asap! If getting Vitamin D is a challenge and you’re not in the sun much, eat more salmon, mushrooms, eggs, tofu and fortified cereal (Whole Grain Total).
‘What are the pros and cons of fasted cardio?’ —@michelleyoung
LANGOWSKI: I am not a huge proponent of fasted cardio, but the pro here is that your body will start burning fat, sooner. When you do fasted cardio, your body burns through glycogen stores in your muscles and then goes into using fat for energy. If you eat carbohydrates before you do cardio, your body will use those carbs for energy first, then any further glycogen stores, and then fat. Regarding the cons, I argue that you will workout at a higher intensity and have more energy if you eat a little something before your workout.
This article was originally published January 17, 2016.