10295720_709050702484564_8438101917234880905_nContrary to popular belief, abs are not sculpted in the gym but rather made in the kitchen. This is because even with the most impressively-developed abdominal muscles in the world, generally speaking they won’t be visible unless you have below 10% body fat. So before you do even one more sit-up or abdominal crunch variation, read the following article that could be the difference between having a six-pack, or not, this summer.

Pre-Workout Carbs:
First, if your goal is to lower your body fat try ditching the pre-workout carbohydrates. This includes that energy drink loaded with sugars you usually get on the way to the gym, since researchers from the University of Texas discovered that eating pre-workout carbohydrates actually slowed the fat-burning process during exercise. This is because the ingestion of carbohydrates causes a rise in the hormone insulin, which when elevated during training can “limit fat oxidisation”. So by not eating any pre-workout carbs, you effectively put your body in a better hormonal state to burn fat.

That said, it must also be noted that if your goal is to improve your performance, you absolutely need carbohydrates before training. Training or competing without them is ‘sports suicide’. Just ask the scientists at Loughborough University, who set out to quantify the difference carbohydrate intake made to a runner’s performance. What they found was that those who consumed a high carbohydrate diet seven days before a 30km treadmill time trial were 10% quicker than those who didn’t. But if your goal is to get a six-pack, forgo the carbohydrates before training.

Cook with Diet Friendly Fats:
Another culinary change that could make a huge difference to your abs is cooking with diet-friendly fats. Specifically, coconut oil has been heralded as one of the healthiest fats on earth since it’s completely cholesterol-free and is a great source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs, unlike long chain fats, are actually processed more like a carbohydrates and are used for energy – and it’s this that scientists believe is responsible for its amazing weight loss abilities. In fact, in a study conducted at the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition in Quebec, Canada it was discovered that eating “a diet rich in medium chain triglycerides results in a greater loss of fat… perhaps due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation”. The study concluded that coconut oil and the medium chain triglyceride content act as agents that stimulate weight loss.

Also, according to another study conducted at McGill University in Quebec, Canada, medium chain triglycerides have been shown to have a great satisfying effect – therefore helping you with your diet right from day one. As little as one teaspoon has proved effective in controlling temptation and reducing hunger. So next time you feel yourself falling off the bandwagon and reaching for the biscuit tin, try cooking with coconut oil by either adding it to your salad as a dressing or including it in your morning coffee.

Add Protein:
Finally, it sounds so simple but try to add protein to every meal. This is because protein, compared to any other macronutrients (carbs and fats) has been shown to keep you satiated and feeling fuller for longer. What’s more, scientists found that different proteins have different fat loss properties. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition took 23 healthy lean adults and gave them meals consisting of whey protein, casein protein and soy protein. The thermic effect of each meal (so the amount of calories it takes to digest the protein) was then measured before and again 5.5 hours after their consumption. The study found that the thermic effect of the whey protein was higher than both the casein and soy protein and that cumulative fat oxidisation was also higher in the whey.

If you enjoyed this article by Ross Edgley, click here to read his equally well-researched piece on getting more muscle and more sex.

Ross Edgley is Co-Founder of THE PROTEIN WORKS​, sports nutrition provider supplying everything from CLA to Raspberry Ketones.