Eating Clean Makes All The Difference

This abdominal definition truly comes from eating clean 98% of the time.  There are no tricks to this.  I also train abs only one day per week and keep my routine down to about 7 minutes.

This abdominal definition truly comes from eating clean 98% of the time. There are no tricks to this. I also train abs only one day per week and keep my routine down to about 7 minutes.

Last week a guy at the gym approached me and asked me a question I hear frequently, which was “What exercises would you recommend for me to get six-pack abs?”. My response didn’t have anything to do with specific abdominal exercises, but centered around nutrition. I asked the guy what his diet was like, and he revealed that he was of Italian descent and just HAD to have pasta several times per week. He also admitted that he spent many of his evenings drinking an appreciable amount of alcohol. So I told him that his eating and drinking habits guaranteed that he would never see a washboard across his midsection, no matter how many crunches or planks he did. He was so intent on finding a way to get a toned midsection without changing his eating habits that he repeated his question a second time, which made me shake my head and wish him luck as I walked away.

If you are committed to getting a lean midriff, you MUST change your eating habits! You simply cannot have your cake and eat it too when it comes to coaxing those lovely abdominal lines and cross cuts out of hiding. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can somehow get a quick fix by doing a cleanse to repair the damage of a poor diet, or that you can perform a plethora of abdominal moves to somehow melt all the fat that is sitting around your waist. The only effective way to etch those abs is to consume whole foods with minimal to no processing, such as lean meats, grains such as quinoa, rice, and oats, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and eggs. If you are worried that these foods lack the flavor you crave from consuming processed foods, check out the various seasonings, flavored mustards, hot sauces, and other condiments which can add a new dimension to your food.

Once you make the switch to a healthy food regimen, you will probably notice a lot of subtle changes in your overall well-being, such as more energy and clearer skin. After a while, you might even notice your abs peeking out!

Egg Protein Got Me Lean

egg

The ravages of competition prep and impending menopause caused me to hold water in my midsection and hamstrings for over a year, and I became despondent and desperate as a result. Nothing seemed to work. Then I took an ALCAT food intolerance test in January of 2015 and discovered that I had an intolerance to a bunch of different foods, so I eliminated the majority of them.

However, I stubbornly kept whey protein in, and chose to ignore the fact that I had a moderate intolerance to it. I would have been fine if I had just consumed whey protein a couple of times per week, but I was ingesting 60-70 grams of whey protein every single day. What kept me in that vicious cycle was an incredibly busy schedule which made it difficult for me to get all of my protein from whole foods.

In late September, upon Ian Lauer’s strong suggestion, I decided to finally eliminate whey protein powder from my diet. I added more animal protein from whole food sources (mostly from MAW Nutrition), and replaced about 25 grams of whey powder with a serving of Muscle Egg. Two weeks later, the water retention issues I had been struggling with completely vanished. I could finally see the lateral borders of my rectus abdominis clearly, and no longer created a fluid ripple when I tapped my belly.

I’m not saying I am ripped as a result of switching to egg protein, but boy, did it make a difference in my level of leanness! This won’t work for everyone though. If you have an issue with egg protein, the opposite effect may occur. In my case, I discovered that my body processes egg protein quite well. I also became a huge fan of Muscle Egg and now have it in my house at all times. I generally limit myself to one serving of Muscle Egg per day, but I also love the occasional nighttime Muscle Egg crepe with Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup on top for a sweet treat.

One last thing about whey protein: I still consume it on occasion. However, I only eat it in B-Up Bars and P28 Products, and I don’t have any issue with these food items. I have, however, completely avoided whey protein powder for the time being, and hope that my body resets as a result.

Menopausal Weight Gain

spare trunk woman
Menopause can really break a woman’s spirit, for countless reasons. Her ability to reproduce comes to a screeching halt, her nether regions may start to resemble an arid climate, hot flashes may make her feel like she is spontaneously combusting, and she may have mood swings that would make the Tazmanian Devil look like a calm little bugger in comparison. But it’s the weight gain which often upsets menopausal women the most. Menopausal women will notice that if they drop their caloric intake, weight won’t drop at all, even though it may have easily melted off in the past.

That’s because the plummeting levels of progesterone and estrogen also adversely affect a woman’s ability to mobilize fat. Cortisol levels can go unchecked as a result of the low levels of progesterone and estrogen, and any extra calories will end up getting stored as fat. If a menopausal woman is at a caloric deficit, the switch flips in favor of burning muscle instead of turning to the storage fat she so desperately wants to incinerate. This is especially true for the adipose (fat) tissue around the midsection, because cortisol is notorious for padding that area with extra fat, resulting in an ever expanding belly. Another unfortunate consequence of cortisol is that levels will rise dramatically with prolonged intense exercise. The key is to have more abbreviated, yet still intense, exercise sessions so that the cortisol release is also accompanied by a boost in HGH and testosterone, thus conferring a protective effect on muscle.

Basically, the WORST thing you can do if you are in the midst of menopausal hell and struggling with weight gain is to engage in lengthy gym sessions. That might work for a 20 year old, but it can be devastating for a 50 year old. If you are a gym rat like me, you can still train up to six days per week (that’s how frequently I train), but keep your sessions intense but relatively short, between 30 to 60 minutes. If you train beyond that time window, the excess cortisol release will only trigger your body to cling to fat.

Menopausal women also experience an increase in carbohydrate sensitivity, which means that carbohydrate-rich meals which they used to be able to consume in their younger years without much consequence will suddenly wreak havoc on that waistline. The extra carbs settle in for a long and uninvited stay in the midsection and end up making women miserable. Because of this, dietary shifts need to be implemented in which the intake of starches and grains is dramatically reduced, while the consumption of more lean protein and green vegetables is increased. I also strongly recommend supplementing the diet with digestive enzymes and probiotics to optimize gut health and digestion of different foods.