September 2010 - Advanced Physical Medicine
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Secrets to Great Abs

What many don’t know about great abs is that each and every one of us already has a six-pack. The secret is uncovering your abdominal muscle from a blanket of fat. One thousand crunches a day will not get you the results that you want if you have high body fat. Toned abdominal muscles are a product of balanced nutrition and a strict workout regiment. This analysis will provide both nutrition and exercise tips so that you can kick start a healthier, happier, more confident lifestyle.


The first key to a tight abdominal region is a healthy diet. For men, it’s especially hard to achieve abs definition because the belly area is the first place that fat gets stored and the last place that fat gets burned. However, if you change your diet, wonderful things can happen. The key here is a combination of healthy foods and caloric deficit. A caloric deficit, in basic terms, is when you are burning more calories than you are taking in. When that happens, your body starts utilizing energy storage that is already available in your body, that energy storage is fat. Of course, you need to consult your physician before taking any drastic measures, but carefully reducing your calorie intake for a limited amount of time can work wonders.

How to Change Your Diet

Remember to spread your caloric intake to 4 to 6 meals a day rather than 2 to 3. Spacing out meals in smaller portions regulates blood sugar. Large meals cause blood sugar to spike which leads to more fat storage. With an elongated meal schedule you should be eating small portions. For example healthy daily diet could include oatmeal in the morning, 2 pieces of fruit at mid morning, a salad with tuna at lunch, a salad with chicken and a piece of fruit at mid afternoon, and chicken breast and potatoes for dinner. A diet like this ensures the necessities - a lean protein source like egg whites and chicken breast and natural carbohydrates such as vegetables, potatoes and brown rice. It’s important to remember to avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour and white sugar. And lastly, about a gallon of water daily is necessary for any active person.


The second key to toned abs is exercise. Maximum fat burning is achieved when you combine cardio training with weight training. It is recommended that you engage in 20 to 45 minutes of cardio 4 to 7 days a week. Effective cardio workouts include, running, biking, rowing, stair climbing or aerobics. In fact almost any exercise that raises your heartbeat and makes you sweat will burn carbohydrates and diminish fat. Also, like all muscles in the body, there are methods of targeting your abdominals to strengthen and tone the area. A few recommended exercises include hanging leg raises, hanging knee ups, weighted Swiss ball crunches and incline bench reverse crunches. All of these exercises should be done in 3 sets, 15-20 repetitions, 2 days a week.

Increasing the number of daily meals, eating healthy foods in small portions, and engaging in exercise through cardio and abdominal work outs will lead to reductuilow body fat.  So all you non-believers out there, I’m here to tell you the research doesn’t lie. Everyone has a set of chiseled abs in them somewhere. Just remember to stick to the regiment and you too will achieve your goal.

Workouts for Great Abs

Abs Exercises

Superset A:

A1 Hanging leg raises - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

A2 Hanging knee ups (bent-knee leg raises) - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

(no rest between exercises within supersets A1 & A2, 60 sec between supersets)

Superset B:

B1 Weighted swiss ball crunches (or weighted cable crunches) - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

B2 Incline Bench Reverse crunches - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

(no rest between exercises within supersets B1 & B2, 60 sec between supersets)

Calorie-Burning Exercises

Monday: back & chest - wide grip pull downs 4 sets of 6 - flat bench press 4 sets of 6 - low cable rows 4 sets of 6 - inclined bench press 4 sets of 6

Tuesday: shoulders and arms - military press 4 sets of 6 - dips 4 sets of failure - barbells 4 sets of 6

Wednesday: legs - squats 4 sets of 6 - leg curls 4 sets of 6 - leg extensions 4 sets of 6 - Repeat cycle with Sunday rest day


Cardio 4 to 7 days per week for about 30 to 45 minutes a day.

Pros and Cons of Sugar in Your Diet

Have you ever heard the saying, “Too much of anything isn’t good for you”? Well when it comes to sugar, too much is really not good for you. Studies have shown the extremely dangerous effects of high intakes of sugar. Below is a list of some of these effects you should worry about.

Note: When considering a healthy amount of calories one should consume daily, measure your carbohydrate intake. When carbohydrates travel the bloodstream, they turn directly into sugar. As a result, your carbohydrate levels are your sugar levels.

1. Tooth Decay

Perhaps we should begin with the most typical issue regarding the intake of sugar. Tooth decay begins with the consumption of sugar. Bacteria living in plaque thrive on the sugar that we eat. The waste that they produce is released in the form of acid that destroys enamel and dentin forming cavities.

2. Diabetes

Studies have shown that sugar causes an increase of insulin in the bloodstream. Because insulin is the hormone that enables us to use glucose for energy, one might view this as a benefit. However, this is when the “too much is not good” concept comes into play: when too much sugar is imbibed, the blood cells’ sensitivity to insulin depletes. Consequently, blood cells are unable to effectively utilize glucose resulting in the accumulation of blood in those cells. This condition is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes. This is why it is so important to be weary of sugar over-consumption.

3. Triglycerides (aka getting fat)

It is commonly discussed that sugar has one of the most substantial effects on people leading to access weight and obese. Triglycerides are fat materials that emerge in the body when one eats more than what is necessary to fuel the body. These particles are often stored in the waist area and cling to your artery walls. The connection between Triglycerides and sugar is not undeniably proven, but major studies have shown that sugar boosts blood triglycerides higher than other carbohydrates.

4. Weakened Immune System

We all know that Vitamin C fights off harmful bacteria, but what you might not know is that glucose and Vitamin C compete for the occupation of your white blood cells. So, the more glucose in your system, the harder it will be Vitamin C to do its job and the weaker your immune system will be.

But sugar should not be avoided altogether, since it’s crucial in generating energy in human body. With the help of oxygen, sugar is converted into energy during digestion. Many healthy foods naturally contain the substance. Take an apple for example. A 125-gram apple contains 13 grams of sugar. The main difference between apple sugar and cookie sugar is that one is naturally occurring, and the other is refined and processes, so as a rule of thumb, if you have a sweet tooth, forget cookies and opt for a delicious fruit instead.

It’s no mystery: the key to good physical health is a balanced diet and exercise. But as long as you consistently eat healthy, you are free to feast on a banana split from time to time.

Good Fat vs. Evil Fat

Food that is readily available in our society is, more often than not, high in calories and low in nutrients. Portions are larger than ever and eating quickly typically translates to eating poorly. Even if you are keeping a look out for dangerous saturated fats in your diet, you might still be consuming them from food you didn’t know hid high fat content. Here are a few foods to watch out for:

Avocados - good

As one of the fattiest fruits that exists in nature, avocados can be confusing. They have about 30 grams of monounsaturated fat in them, totaling 80 percent of their total calories. It is a healthier fat than that from red meat, but avocados should still be consumed sparsely.

Mayonnaise - evil

Did you know that mayo is actually made of 80 percent fat? It has about 12 grams of fat in each tablespoon, so do your best to avoid it altogether.

Ice Cream - evil

There are a ton of calories from fat and sugar in ice cream, and if you add toppings, you add even more. For two scoops, you can expect to eat about 650 calories and around 40 grams of fat.

Meat - good and evil

Eating meat is a great way to max out your consumption of saturated fat. Things like ribeye steaks, hot dogs, pork and beef ribs all have a heavy dose of fat. Deli meat is often high in saturated fat and sodium, so watch out for the leanest cuts of meat. Of course, opt for baking or broiling meat instead of frying to lower calories even further.

Salads - good and evil

Many dieters think that any salad is a healthy salad, but this is not the case at all. Plenty of salads can have a heavy-dressing that adds up to 300 calories and 30 grams of fat in four teaspoons. Toppings like cheese, avocado, meat and nuts also bring a large amount of calories to a previously low-cal meal.

By staying aware of what you eat and what nutrients you are actually getting, you will be taking a big step towards improving your health.

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