Summer is almost upon us, and if you’re like me, you’re staring at yourself in the mirror asking, “Am I ready?” For a woman wearing a bikini, the abdomen is one of the most important parts of the body. After all, the whole reason you’re reading a two-piece is because you are comfortable showing a little skin.
The difference between a nice, toned set of washboard abs and even a small accumulation of fat can mean the difference between jumping into that beach volleyball game, or maybe the arms of that guy you have been crushing on since last fall.
Fortunately, one of the easiest parts of the body to work out is the abdomen. You can achieve washboard abs in less than a month with a proper workout regimen, and there are tons of effective workouts out there. That said if you want to elevate your approach to a whole new plateau of physical results, you might want to give coconut oil a try.
Coconut oil is one of, if not the best known oil to use when it comes to keeping rolls off your stomach because the degree to which it is comprised of medium (as opposed to long) chain fatty acids. Lauric acid is one of these medium-chain triglyceride acids, and comprises about 50% of coconut oil. Lauric acid absorbs straight into the small intestines, and require less energy and fewer enzymes to metabolize as opposed to long-chained counterparts. To put this into perspective, 98% of all other fats we eat are long-chained, so to find a medium-chain triglyceride is relatively rare.
Lauric acid actually has antiviral properties as well.
Putting the Science to the Test
A study published in the journal Lipids had the following findings: a small group of obese women who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil a day for 12 weeks saw their waistlines shrink, while women who consumed the same amount of soybean oil experienced no such change.
Simon is a writer and content specialist who is addicted to being on the front page of anything. A graduate of Dalhousie University, he specializes in using the em dash too often. Currently, Simon rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada. Check out a recent example of his work here.
More and more studies are teaching us how too much sugar in our diet can lead to serious health issues, including conditions like obesity. This has triggered all sorts of policy debates with the Mayor of New York banning large soft drinks while others argue that the government shouldn’t get involved. Both sides have a point but with so much of our federal budget tied to health care costs we all need to consider these issues, while also looking in the mirror and asking ourselves whether we consume too much sugar.
Soft drinks in particular are a huge source of excess sugar in our diets, and now even stars like Beyonce are feeling some heat around this issue. For example, “The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants Beyonce to turn her back on her $50 million deal with Pepsi because the sugary drink is associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.” That’s quite a bit a money to turn down, and I guess she could only focus on Diet Pepsi, but in many ways this controversy illustrates how far we have come with awareness on this issue. I doubt Beyonce will end her deal, but now there is some PR price to be paid when a celebrity gets behind these types of products.
Of course, we need to do more than just cut down on sugar to improve our diet and our health, though it would be a great start for most people. It’s important to find healthy foods as a substitute for things like sugar and fat that we want to reduce. Another approach involves taking vitamins and supplements like the ones found at Predator Nutrition to round out what you consume as well.
It is encouraging, however, that the feedback we’re getting from commercials might be balanced a bit by the loud voices explaining the health risks of things like sugar along with the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Being fit in middle age may not ad years to your life, however, fitness can help you to avoid chronic illness as you age.
Better quality of life, less time spent treating and healing from illness and time to enjoy your old age are the perks of being in great shape now.
Previous studies have shown that people who are more physically fit have a lower risk of dying early than those who aren’t as in shape, but the current analysis, led by Dr. Jarrett Berry of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is the first to expose a connection with chronic diseases. Berry and his colleagues compared data on fitness levels of 18,670 healthy men and women in their 40s and 50s to Medicare claims for chronic disease treatments a couple of decades later, when the participants became eligible for coverage after age 65. Each of the volunteers performed a treadmill test, during which the researchers measured the length of time they exercised to exhaustion as an indicator of their fitness. For every one-unit improvement in fitness, measured as metabolic equivalents, the volunteers enjoyed a 20% drop in the incidence of the eight conditions the scientists tracked.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is generally used to assess overall fitness, however, a new study has found that weight concentrated around the middle can be more harmful than obesity itself.
The waist to hip ratio is proving to be a better predictor of heart disease and other illness than BMI alone.
Participants were divided into six groups based on which of the three BMI groups they fell into, and whether they had a normal or high waist-to-hip ratio. Men whose waist measurement was 90 percent or more of their hip measurement were considered to have a high hip-to-waist ratio. The same was true of women; those with waists that were 85 percent of their hip size were classified as having a high hip-to-waist ratio.
Participants with normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip ratio had the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, and the highest risk of dying from any causes among the six groups.
The risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher, and the risk of death from any cause was 2.08 times higher among normal-weight people with “central obesity,” compared with normal-weight people who had a normal waist-to-hip ratio.
“The high risk of death may be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation in this group, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors,” said study researcher Dr. Karine Sahakyan, also of Mayo Clinic.
Men can be highly susceptible to accumulating belly fat and inactivity, poor diet and stress contribute to visceral fat.
Keeping your abs toned and your middle “whittled” is the best way to avoid disease and keep your heart strong.
The hunter-gatherer Hadza tibemen studied, although more active than Westerners, expended no more energy than those who are sedentary.
Although it is tempting to use simple math when trying to manage weight, it seems that processed, genetically modified food have an incalculable negative on human biology and weight maintenance.
So, if you are not hunting for your food on a daily basis, the next best thing is to eat simple, seasonal, unadulterated whole foods in their natural form.
Not surprisingly, the Hadza were more physically active than Westerners. However, they didn’t expend more energy. The Hadza’s average daily energy expenditure was no different than that of Westerners, after controlling for body size, the analysis found.
“We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences,” they write.
Unlike a growing portion of the Westernized world, however, the Hadza are lean. This suggests obesity rates in Westernized countries stem from differences in energy intake — meaning more rich food than our human ancestors ate, they conclude.
It’s not easy to eat right all the time and even if you are you may not know that consuming fruit, for instance, with protein will inhibit your bodies ability to absorb the nutrients you are ingesting.
Taking certain supplements will help to insure that you are getting the nutrients you need everyday.
Bioavailability and absorption are two important factors when it comes to sufficient intake of micronutrients. For example, oxalates are a chemical found in tea. While herbal teas are good for you, this chemical can limit the bioavailability of several nutrients, like iron and calcium. Tea has become as much a staple in many diets as coffee or water – meaning your body may not be benefiting from your “perfect” diet.
Another common example is consuming milk with a meal containing eggs – it is highly unlikely you will absorb much of the calcium in the milk. Iron, found in eggs, binds calcium in the intestines, limiting absorption. Ideally, these two micronutrients should be consumed three hours apart, but do you really have time for that much planning and fretting?
Supplements, however, do not replace healthy eating and lifestyle choices.
Don’t let these feelings get in the way of your fitness goals. Instead, get your iron levels checked. Low-iron or iron deficiency anemia can lead to a host of symptoms including: tiredness, low-motivation and poor circulation.
While there is no magic bullet to shrink your belly fat, choosing the right beverage is a step in the right direction.
Avoiding added sugars and including ingredients like pineapple, loaded with bromelain which aids in digestion and reduces inflammation, as well as coconut oil, avocado, green tea, and dark chocolate, you can increase your belly busting odds.
If you need a little inspiration to hit the gym and define your abdominal muscles then the new film, “Magic Mike”, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum, might be just the ticket to get you off the couch and away from the carbs.
White says diet is the first step to turning yourself into a lean, mean, stripping machine.
“When it comes to losing weight and getting ripped abs and a flat washboard stomach, you need to control your portion size,” he says. “Most men eat big portions so they need to watch that. Plus they need to make sure their carbohydrates are at a moderate level and that they’re not white, refined or processed carbohydrates.”
Morning cardio and afternoon full body workouts, three times a week, should get you in shape in 5-6 months if you’re the average guy.