Friday, April 6, 2012

Hanging knee raises

These are identical to the hanging leg raises, except that your knees are fully bent, and you bring your knees all the way up to your chest while curling the pelvis up. This modification from the hanging leg raise basically reduces the amount of weight that you’re lifting making the exercise easier. If you cannot yet properly perform a hanging leg raise, this is the best exercise to progress towards that goal. Both hanging leg raises and hanging knee raises can also be done from training rings slung over a power rack or pull-up bar, which makes them even more effective and easier on your shoulders.
Lying leg thrusts
This is a two part exercise – a “halfway down” leg raise followed by a hip thrust. Start by lying on your back with your head and shoulders raised off of the floor, your hands (palms down) on the mat by your hips, and your legs at a 90° angle from the floor. Slowly lower your legs only half way to the floor to an angle of approximately 45° from the floor. Do not go all the way to the floor with the legs as this promotes an arched back and can put a lot of stress on the lumbar spine. From the 45° position, raise your legs back up to the 90° position. Once the legs are back at the 90° position (no further), thrust your hips off the floor. Decline board leg thrusts to do hanging knee raises as well.
This is essentially the same movement as the lying leg thrusts, however, by slightly changing the angle a little closer to vertical, it makes the movement a little more challenging. Just use one of the lower angle settings on the decline board, as that will be sufficient enough to make this exercise more challenging. Again, as with the lying leg thrusts, only lower your legs approximately half way down, before reversing the legs up to a 90° angle at the hips, and finishing with the upward hip thrust. Remember to keep your back from arching during this exercise as well. If you don’t have access to a decline board, simply substitute extra sets of lying leg thrusts in place of the decline board leg thrusts into the training program.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recommended Exercises

There are literally hundreds of different exercises you can do for ab training, and people are always looking for new ab exercises with the thought that you always need to have a new exercise to get continued results. This is not true. You can pretty much keep using the same core of effective exercises, and change the training variables over time to keep progressing. For instance, you can change the order of exercises, the amount of resistance, the volume of work (sets and reps), the rest periods, the rep speed, or even try a different angle of a certain exercise for variety.
Once you’ve become proficient at all of the exercises in this manual, you’ll eventually reach a point where you’re probably not going to add any more muscle to your abs (just like you would reach your peak level with any other muscle group), and as long as you’ve reduced your body fat to a sufficient level, you should be able to visibly see a nice ripped six-pack. That’s when things get even easier, because now that you’ve developed a nice set of abs, all you have to do is maintain them, and maintaining them is easier than building them up in the first place. Once you’ve reached that point, you can reduce your ab training to once a week just to maintain them. At that point, the only thing that will matter in terms of how your abs look will be whether you maintain a low body fat percentage or not.
I should also note that in order to maintain balanced muscular development in the “core”, you must also devote sufficient training to the lower back muscles as well as the abdominals and hip flexors. You will get plenty of lower back training to balance out the ab training if you follow the exercises presented in section 9, which is full of lower back strengthening exercises such as deadlifts, swings, and snatches.
Listed below are the ab exercises I recommend avoiding because they are either ineffectual or potentially harmful to the back due to excessive psoas recruitment and/or encouraging an arched back:
The Bad Exercises (avoid these)

Lying straight-legged leg raises (first 45° off of floor, one leg at a time or both)

Hanging leg raises with an arched back

Sit-ups with feet supported

Straight legged sit-ups

Any machine-based ab exercise

Any machine-based twisting exercise

Torso twists (they provide no resistance, nor burn many calories)
Now that we’ve listed the exercises I recommend avoiding, provided below are the exercises that should be focused on in order to best develop the abs and hip flexors, as they provide the most resistance and encourage proper body positioning:
The Good Exercises (focus on these)

Hanging leg raises (with hunched back)

Hanging knee raises (with hunched back)

Lying leg thrusts (hip thrusts)

Decline bench leg thrusts (hip thrusts)

Reverse crunches (crunching hips off floor)

Ab bicycles (alternating knees to elbows)

Ab scissors

Stability ball crunches (weighted for progression)

Bench crunches

Alternating (oblique) crunches

Weighted cable rope crunches (with hunched back)

Ab wheel

Stability ball hip flexion (knee tucks)

Abdominal vacuums (transversus abdominis development)
A Couple Surprisingly Killer Abs & Core Exercises

Front squats (mostly a leg drill, but requires extreme ab stabilization and strength)

Renegade dumbbell rows (combines incredible upper body work with amazing oblique and core stability work)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Resistance, Frequency, and Duration of Ab Training

One of the reasons that many people who spend a half an hour during each workout doing hundreds of crunches fail to ever develop six pack abs is that after a certain point, regular old crunches just don’t provide much resistance to develop your abs. In addition, all of the time wasted doing crunches or other minimally resistive ab exercises (i.e. working a very  small muscle group) could have been better utilized by working larger muscle groups which burn more calories.
By focusing the majority of your time in the gym on bigger compound movements like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and upper body multi-joint presses and pulls, your body is forced to work harder and burn more calories during and after the workout. Don’t get me wrong, crunches can have their place in a routine, especially for beginners, and advanced versions of crunches can even be challenging enough for well-trained athletes.
So how long should your ab training take? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a half hour or more every day training abs. You can complete an intense ab training session in about 5-10 minutes during your workouts, either at the end or in the beginning of your workout, or on a separate day. I recommend doing your ab training at the end of your workouts to assure that you don’t pre-exhaust the abs when you might need their stabilization to protect your back during some of the bigger compound exercises that might make up your workout.
Based on this concept, it is important for the safety of your back not to fatigue your abs before doing heavy spine loading exercises like squats or deadlifts. The problem with saving your ab training for last in your workout is that once you get to that point, you’re frequently too fatigued and end up not training abs, or you just work them half hearted. If your workout for the day is mostly comprised of upper body exercises, you can probably get away with doing your ab training first, since you most likely won’t need as much stabilization as when doing full body or lower body routines. Another strategy is to save your ab training for a separate day, perhaps combined with a cardio-only day.
Another common misconception with ab training is that many people think they must do it every day in order to obtain ripped abs. In reality, you really should train abs like you would any other muscle group. I recommend inserting a tough 5-10 minute ab routine into your workouts 2-3 times per week. That will be more than sufficient to help you fully develop your abs, without over-training them. Remember, your muscles need enough rest to properly develop. In fact, training your abs more than 2-3 times/week may lead to over-training and bring your progress to a halt.
As I noted earlier, in order to fully develop the abs to their potential, you need to train them with exercises that actually provide significant resistance. While I stated that crunches can be a great ab exercise for beginners, once you’ve got some ab training under your belt, you’ll need to start looking to more resistive exercises to make progress in ab development.
Exercises in which you’re curling the lower body up, particularly from a hanging position, provide the most resistance and are much more challenging than curling up the upper body. This is simply due to the fact that your legs are much heavier objects to move than your upper body. Based on this principle, the core of your ab training workouts will consist of exercises that are initiated with your lower body. In any given workout, once you’ve fatigued the abs with challenging exercises initiated with the lower body, then you can finish off with the easier exercises that are initiated with your upper body.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Proper Body Positioning for Abdominal Training

The hip flexor muscles such as the psoas, along with the abdominals, both act to pull your trunk towards your legs. However, the psoas can operate in a much greater range of motion than the abs. The psoas are activated to the highest degree when your feet are supported and/or your legs are extended straight. Also, the psoas take over the majority of the work when your upper body comes off the floor by more than approximately 30° in crunching or sit-up movements.
It has become fashionable in recent years for trainers to recommend that people try to “isolate” their abs and minimize any hip flexor activity. Although these professionals have good intentions with this recommendation, I don’t believe it’s a good idea to try to eliminate any kind of hip flexor activity. A balanced approach will be much better. The recommendation to minimize hip flexor activity during ab training stems from the thought that excessive psoas activation during attempts at ab training creates compressive forces on the discs of the lumbar spine. The psoas attach to the lower spinal vertebrae. When the psoas are activated to a high degree, they pull on the lower spine, creating compressive forces on the discs. If your abs are very strong, the abs will keep the back from arching and prevent damage from occurring. However, even those with strong abs may not be able to keep the back from arching once the abs have fatigued. Once the back arches during heavy psoas activity, the vertebrae around the psoas attachment can grind together, potentially resulting in disc degeneration over time.
Now with all of that said, I believe that a balanced approach is best, and that you must focus on building both strong hip flexors and strong abdominals. Strong hip flexors are necessary to improve on movements such as sprinting or any other movements involving hip flexion.
As long as you perform the exercises in this manual with the correct body positioning, you will develop very strong abdominals to protect your back, and you will also develop sufficient hip flexor strength. I do believe that there are certain exercises which are both ineffective and can potentially put undue stress on the lower back. Some of these exercises that I recommend you avoid are straight legged sit-ups, sit-ups with the feet supported, hanging leg raises with an arched back, floor leg raises with straight legs and an arched back, and machine crunches.
Proper body positioning is essential to maximal development of the abs while protecting your back from injury. One of the most important aspects to understand in order to best develop the abs, is to maintain a proper posterior pelvic tilt during ab training. To explain this concept, think of yourself lying on the floor while arching your back. In this position, the top of your pelvis is tilted forward, otherwise known as an anterior pelvic tilt. Now if you rotate the top of your pelvis down towards the floor such that you have removed the arch in your back, you are now in a posterior pelvic tilt. This is the optimal position in which to train your abs when doing floor exercises (although it may not be appropriate for an individual with lower back disc disease).
Now consider an ab exercise in a hanging position, such as the hanging leg raise or hanging knee up. Most people complete these exercises with a slightly arched back position utilizing mostly the hip flexors with minor assistance from the abs to complete this movement. In order to complete a hanging leg or knee raise in a safer and more effective way for developing both the abdominals and the hip flexors, you must have your back in a rounded position as you literally curl your pelvis up closer to your upper body. This aspect makes these exercises much more challenging and puts a much higher demand on your abs. Most people cannot complete a properly performed hanging leg raise until they have adequately strengthened their abdominals and are in very good physical condition.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Abdominal Musculature Breakdown and Functions

The abdominals are composed of the rectus abdominis and the lateral abdominal muscles known as the transversus abdominis, and the internal and external obliques. The rectus abdominis runs from your sternum to your pelvis and essentially helps pull your rib cage and your pelvis closer together. The transversus abdominis acts as a natural weight belt essentially holding your insides in, and stabilizing your trunk. The internal and external obliques work to rotate the torso and stabilize the abdomen. The rectus abdominis is the actual visible “six pack” that you see in someone with well-developed abs and a low body fat percentage. However, the lateral abdominal muscles are also very important to develop due to their role in supporting the spine and maintaining a healthy lower back. In addition, developing the transversus abdominis helps pull your stomach area inward giving you the appearance of a smaller waist. Whenever you suck your stomach in (like a guy at the beach trying to hide his gut), you are using the transversus abdominis to perform that movement.
The action of the rectus abdominis can be initiated by crunching the upper body up or by crunching the lower body up. A popular myth is that people think that the upper abs and lower abs can be worked separately. The fact is that you cannot isolate the upper or lower
abs. The rectus abdominus is one muscle group and the entire length of the muscle group is activated whether you’re pulling the upper body up or pulling the lower body up. With that said, it should be noted that it is beneficial for you to work the abs from a variety of different angles to ensure maximum muscle fiber development throughout the entire abdominal region.


When people ask me how to go about getting six-pack abs, they usually start talking about all of the crunches and other exercises they spend hours every week performing without seeing any tangible results. My first response is that they most likely already have a reasonably developed set of abdominals if they’ve been training for some time. Their abs are just covered by excess body fat. That is really what people are inadvertently asking me when they ask what they need to do to get visible abs; what they really need to focus on is reducing their body fat.
Granted, a certain level of muscular development of the abs is necessary to have a ripped “six pack” appearance, but ultimately your body fat % is what’s most important. Generally, men need to get below 10-11% body fat to really start to see the abs (they really pop out at 7-8%), and women need to get below 16-19% body fat to really bring out their abs. However, everyone will differ depending on his or her body fat distribution. Based on individual body fat distribution, some people may need to get even leaner than these percentages to be able to see their abs.
Men tend to accumulate more body fat in the abdominal area, whereas women tend to accumulate more body fat in the hips and thighs. If you want to figure out how much body fat you need to lose to get down to these levels or lower, you’ll need to have your body fat percentage measured. There are many methods available to do this, but the methods that will be most accessible to the majority of people are the skinfold caliper method, the bioelectrical impedance method, or estimates using girth measurements of various body part circumferences. If you’re a member at a gym, you can most likely have a trainer at the gym perform either the skinfold caliper method or the bioelectrical impedance method. Some of the calculations and tables for the girth measurement method can be found on-line or your trainer at your gym may be able to complete the calculations if they have the tables available.
While this manual will provide all of the information you need to know about developing your abdominals to the greatest extent possible given your genetics, the majority of this manual is going to focus on proven strategies and tips that will help you reduce your bodyfat to such levels that your abdominals are clearly visible.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Working as a personal trainer/fitness counselor and reading volumes of fitness publications over the years, I’ve noticed that the majority of fitness related questions that I see and hear most frequently revolve around the abdominals. As the centerpiece of the human physique, the aesthetically pleasing abdominals have become the obsession of most people that are concerned about their physical appearance. However, with modern day culture giving us more opportunities to do less physical work and eat more highly processed super-sized meals with increasing convenience, it has become progressively more difficult and frustrating for the majority of people to obtain anything even closely resembling a six-pack.
To make things worse, we are bombarded by so many “magic pills”, ab gadgets, and diets claiming to give you a ripped set of abs that the average consumer can’t make heads or tails over what works and what doesn’t. Just look at all of the conflicting popular diets on the market today. One claims that a low carb diet is the only way to lose weight, another says low fat is the best, and yet another claims that a vegetarian diet is the only way to go. And as for all of the ab gadgets that unscrupulous marketers are trying to say are the secret to a six pack; well, most of them are flat out worthless junk!
The fact is that most people are looking for that quick fix for which they are not going to have to change anything else in their lives; yet remarkably, that quick fix is going to give them six pack abs overnight. Well, the bad news is that no such thing exists on the market today. The good news is that a tight ripped set of abs is definitely attainable to most people (regardless of genetics) if you follow some sound training advice and follow a healthy diet that promotes body fat loss. I have even seen people who have turned some pretty large beer guts into six packs with some hard work and discipline. It just takes time.
The good news is that healthy eating can actually be enjoyable and doesn’t have to feel restrictive. It just takes a little knowledge on choosing the right foods, eating at the right times, and eating the right quantities and proportions. You will actually feel more energized and more productive each and every day by following a balanced diet as I will present 4

within this book. In addition, your training program doesn’t have to feel like a chore. It should be fun and challenge you to improve over time.
I have written this all-encompassing guide to bringing out your hidden set of six-pack abs to once and for all clear up all of the confusion and give every reader a step-by-step guide to follow and a clear understanding of the truth about six-pack abs.
Besides the head turning appeal of a great set of abs, a well developed midsection has many other benefits such as supporting a healthy back and improving athletic performance. Body fat reduction has many benefits as well, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, and many types of cancer. Since the likely reason you picked up this manual has to do with concern over physical appearance, I’ll spare you the talk about all of the other health benefits of body fat reduction and abdominal development. All of the health benefits could encompass another entire book.
Before getting into the all the details of this manual, I will say that the most important aspect of life regarding the benefits of fitness, where good health, physical appearance, and the ability to perform physical tasks all come together, is in “quality of life”. That’s what fitness is really all about. Bear in mind, the reason so few people have a nice set of abs is that it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not easy to stay lean in today’s culture.
However, with some dietary discipline and an effective training program, it actually becomes quite easy to attain those coveted six-pack abs. So read on, and I guarantee that if you implement the strategic tips I’m going to give you about body fat reduction and abdominal development, you’ll be on your way to showing off a ripped set of abs!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Equipment or no equipment:

One more thing to straighten out before we get started… You don’t need lots of equipment to do most of the exercises in this manual. You will get the best results if you have access to a gym or have a fairly well equipped home gym so that you have as much variety as possible available to you. However, you DON’T need any machines!
I’d recommend at the very least, you have access to a stability ball (can get them at any sporting goods store for $20-$30 or at the amazon link I’ll give below) and a set of dumbbells. These two things alone will allow you to do almost every single exercise presented in the manual. Don’t worry if there are a couple exercises throughout the 2

manual that you can’t do due to lack of a certain piece of equipment… there are dozens of alternatives for everything.
In addition, keep in mind that almost every single barbell exercise presented can be substituted with dumbbells instead, in case dumbbells are all you have available.
If you would rather workout at home instead of joining a gym, I’d recommend you make a small investment in 2 pieces of equipment below. All total, you can get these for only a couple hundred dollars and they will last you for life, so it’s a worthy investment.
a stability ball
a set of adjustable powerblock dumbbells
In addition to everything I’ve mentioned above, make sure you also pay close attention to the nutrition section of this manual. The nutrition section of this book is vitally important to your success. Let me state this loud and clear… if all you focus on is your training, and your diet is full of junk, you WILL NOT see results! You need to apply BOTH the training strategies as well as the nutrition strategies if you want to make this work. The beautiful thing is that once you get this stuff down pat, it actually is quite easy to get as lean as you want and get those abs to show nicely! 3

Alright, time to get started, and get you on your way to your own set of six pack abs!

Man or Woman, Young or Old

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, old or young… The CONCEPTS I teach in this manual work for anyone and everyone if you apply them. You simply need to adjust things to your level and capabilities. I’ll give example routines for all exercise levels from beginner to advanced, and from zero equipment all the way to fully gym equipped.

As a preface for female readers, I’d like to make sure you understand right now that although many of the exercises, training routines, and discussion within this manual may come off in a masculine tone sometimes, it is all equally as effective for body fat reduction and muscle toning for women as it is for men.
Regardless of gender, the best exercises are the best exercises – period! For example, although the barbell deadlift with all of those huge weights on the bar may look intimidating to some beginner male and female trainees, the movement is one of the most functional result producing, body changing movements you will ever learn, regardless of how much weight you can handle currently.
Also, please keep in mind that the abs-specific exercises in this manual are NOT the most important aspect of this program. In reality, the full body workout programs in section 9 of this book are vastly more important to your overall success than just the abs exercises.
In addition, the dietary strategies within this manual work equally well for both genders, as long as total caloric intake is adjusted appropriately. The example meal ideas and portion sizes are just that… examples! You obviously need to adjust portion sizes to your own body weight, age, activity level, etc.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Guideline 3: Drink Smoothies Regularly

With schedules the way they are today, it’s no wonder that your
definition of a kitchen gadget is the one with a team logo that can
open bottles. You need to make one exception for the kitchen
gadget that won’t fit on a key chain: the blender. I don’t care how
many speeds it has or how it looks, and I couldn’t tell you the difference
between a mince and a frappe. All I care about is how
much stuff I can put in it and how good the stuff tastes when it
comes out. (One thing I do recommend: Get a blender with at least
400 watts, which will give it the power to handle chopping ice and
shredding fruit and to outlast any Jimmy Buffett fans who might
drop by unexpectedly.)
When you consider that changing your body takes time, motivation,
and knowledge, consider your blender to be one of your
most powerful tools in this plan. Smoothies made with a mixture
of the Abs Diet Powerfoods can act as meal substitutions and as
potent snacks, and they work for a few reasons.
They require little time.
Adding berries, flavored whey powder, or peanut butter
will make them taste like dessert, which will satisfy your
sweet cravings.
Their thickness takes up a lot of space in your stomach.
I don’t cook much. When I want a quick, healthy meal, I dump
milk, low-fat vanilla yogurt, ice, uncooked instant oatmeal, peanut
butter, and a couple of teaspoons of chocolate whey powder into my
blender and press a button. You can mix and match ingredients, depending
on your tastes (see the recipes in chapter 9), but use the
milk, yogurt, whey powder, and ice as the base. Here’s the evidence
showing these blended power drinks will help you control your
98 T H E A B S D I E T
T H E A B S D I E T N U T R I T I O N P L A N 99
Researchers at Purdue University found that people
stayed fuller longer when they drank thick drinks than
when they drank thin ones—even when calories, temperatures,
and amounts were equal.
A Penn State study found that men who drink yogurt
shakes that had been blended until they doubled in
volume ate 96 fewer calories a day than men who drank
shakes of normal thickness.
In a study presented at the North American Association
of the Study of Obesity, researchers found that regularly
drinking meal replacements increased a man’s chance of
losing weight and keeping it off for longer than a year.
A University of Tennessee study found that men who
added three servings of yogurt a day to their diets lost
61 percent more body fat and 81 percent more stomach
fat over 12 weeks than men who didn’t eat yogurt.
Wow! Researchers speculated that the calcium helps
the body burn fat and limit the amount of new fat your
body can make.
How it works: Drink an 8-ounce smoothie for breakfast, as a
meal substitute, or as a snack before or after your workout.
Guideline 4: Stop Counting
Though calorie burning is paramount to losing fat, calorie
counting will make you lose focus and motivation. By eating these
12 Abs Diet Powerfoods and their many relatives, the foods themselves
will, in a way, count your calories for you. They’ll keep you
healthy and feeling full and satisfied. Plus, the most energy-efficient
foods are almost like doormen at a nightclub: They’re not
going to let any of the riffraff in without your approval.
Of course, that doesn’t give you license to speed down the
road of monstrous portions. Most of us claim that we watch
what we eat, but most of us don’t have a clue. A U.S. Department
of Agriculture study asked men what they ate, then
checked it against reality. The truth: Men ages 25 to 50 were
eating twice the grains, fats, and sweets that they estimated. If
you eat six well-balanced meals, your body will regulate portions
through things like fiber, protein, and the sheer volume of the
smoothies. That said, it’s always wise—especially in the beginning
of the plan, when you’re most vulnerable and adjusting to
a new way of eating—to focus on portion control by limiting the
servings of some foods, especially the ones with fat (like peanut
butter) and carbohydrates (like rice or bread). A good rule: Stick
to one to two servings per food group, and keep the total contents

Guideline 2: Make These 12 Abs Diet Powerfoods the Staples of Your Diet

The Abs Diet will teach you to focus on (not restrict yourself to) a
handful of food types—the Abs Diet Power 12—to fulfill your core
nutritional needs. These foods are all good for you. They’re so good,
in fact, that they’ll just about single-handedly exchange your fat
for muscle (provided you’ve kept your receipt). Just as important,
I’ve designed the Power 12 to include literally thousands of food
combinations. There are hundreds of dairy products, fruits and
vegetables, lean meats, and other choices to satisfy your tastes. Incorporating
these Powerfoods into your six meals a day will satiate
your tastes and cravings and keep you from feasting on the dangerous
fat promoters in your diet.
You’ll read more about these Powerfoods in chapter 8. For now,
I just want you to remember:
Almonds and other nuts
Beans and legumes
Spinach and other green vegetables
Dairy (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
Instant oatmeal (unsweetened, unflavored)
Turkey and other lean meats
Peanut butter
Olive oil
Whole-grain breads and cereals
Extra-protein (whey) powder
Raspberries and other berries

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guideline 1: Eat Six Meals a Day

We’re so used to hearing people talk about eating less food that
it’s become weight-loss doctrine. But as you remember from the
physiology of metabolism, you have to eat more often to change
your body composition. The new philosophy I want you to keep
in mind is “energy balance.”
Researchers at Georgia State University developed a technique
to measure hourly energy balance—that is, how many
94 T H E A B S D I E T
calories you’re burning versus how many calories you’re taking
in. The researchers found that if you keep your hourly surplus
or deficit within 300 to 500 calories at all times, you will best be
able to change your body composition by losing fat and adding
lean muscle mass. Those subjects with the largest energy imbalances
(those who were over 500 calories in either ingestion
or expenditure) were the fattest, while those with the most balanced
energy levels were the leanest. So if you eat only your
three squares a day, you’re creating terrific imbalances in your
energy levels. Between meals, you’re burning many more calories
than you’re taking in. At mealtimes, you’re taking in many
more than you’re burning. Research shows that this kind of
eating plan is great—if your dream is to be the next John
T H E A B S D I E T N U T R I T I O N P L A N 95
Almost as important as what you eat is when you eat. Researchers at the University
of Massachusetts analyzed the eating habits of 500 men and women
and found connections between the way people eat and the risk of becoming
Eating at least one midday snack –39 percent
Eating dinner as your biggest meal of the day +6 percent
Waiting more than 3 hours afterwaking up
to eat breakfast
+43 percent
Eating more than a third of yourmeals
in restaurants
+69 percent
Going to bed hungry
(3 or more hours after your last meal or snack)
+101 percent
Eating breakfast away from home +137 percent
Not eating breakfast +450 percent
Candy. But if you want to look slimmer, feel fitter, and—not coincidentally—
live longer, then you need to eat more often. In the
same study, subjects who added three snacks a day to three regular
meals balanced out their energy better, lost fat, and increased
lean body mass (as well as increased their power and
In a similar study, researchers in Japan found that boxers who
ate the same amount of calories a day from either two or six meals
both lost an average of 11 pounds in 2 weeks. But the guys who
ate six meals a day lost 3 pounds more fat and 3 pounds less
muscle than the ones who ate only two meals.
There’s science to support the fact that more meals work, but
the plain-speak reason it works is because it does something that
many diets don’t do: It keeps you full and satiated, which will reduce
the likelihood of a diet-destroying binge.
How it works: For scheduling purposes, alternate your larger
meals with smaller snacks. Eat two of your snacks roughly 2
hours before lunch and dinner, and one snack roughly 2 hours
after dinner.
Sample time schedule:
8 A.M.: breakfast
11 A.M.: snack
1 P.M.: lunch
4 P.M.: snack
6 P.M.: dinner
8 P.M.: snack
For a complete 7-day meal plan, check out page 104. It’s not
something you need to stick to religiously, just a suggestion for
how you can make the Abs Diet work for you. It also shows
how to incorporate the recipes you’ll find in chapter 9 into your
everyday life.


overview of some cool science—
how your body reacts to different
foods, why some fats are good and
others are evil, and how some
foods such as dairy products have a secret ingredient
that helps your body burn fat. Science can be fun, but by
this point in the book, you’ve probably got one burning
question in your mind:
Hey, when can we eat?
So let’s get right to it, because eating more of the right
foods more often is the basis of the Abs Diet. Remember:

That’s why the Abs Diet isn’t a diet you’ll feel you “have to”
stick to. It’s one you’ll want to stick to.
See, I’ve talked to lots of men who’ve tried diets, and many of
them describe trying to stick to a strict diet plan as sort of like
standing waist-deep in the ocean and being pummeled by one
wave after another. Those waves come in the form of doughnuts
the boss brought in, the office vending machine you’re stuck with
when the boss makes you work late, and the happy hour to celebrate
the firing of the boss who gave you all those doughnuts and
late vending machine nights. When you’re staring at a wave
that’s clearly bigger than you, you have three choices. You could
run back to shore or try to jump over it, but those options will
leave you with a suit full of sand. But if you dive through the
wave head-on, you’ll emerge unscathed. Same with a diet. You
can try to run away by avoiding restaurants, parties, weddings,
or anyplace that’s likely to tempt you with nachos grande. You
can also try to take the high road, but ordering a salad and water
after a softball game hardly feels right. If you want a diet to
work—if you want to emerge on the other side of this plan with
a new body—your only choice is to have the flexibility and
freedom to keep yourself from getting hungry and the knowledge
that you can eat well no matter what.
You’re about to dive into the Abs Diet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


To your eggs: A third of a cup of chopped onion and a clove of garlic will add
1 gram of fiber to a couple of scrambled eggs.
To your sandwich: Hate whole wheat? Go with rye. Like wheat, it has 2 grams
of fiber per slice. That’s more than twice the amount of fiber in white.
To your dinner: Have a sweet potato. It has 2 grams more fiber than a typical
Idaho potato.
To your cereal: Half a cup of raspberries adds 4 grams of fiber.
To your snack: Eat trail mix. Half a cup of Raisin Bran, 1 ounce of mixed nuts,
and five dried apricot halves give you almost 7 grams of fiber.
has risen 15 percent in the past 10 years.) Like today’s low-carb
craze, the low-fat craze originally appears to work because it creates
a restrictive eating program that eliminates certain foods
and, hence, a certain number of calories. If you suddenly have to
cut out countless steaks, baked goods, slabs of butter, nuts, dairy
products, and desserts, presto, you lose weight.
But, as with carbohydrates, our bodies crave fat. Fatty foods
(beef, fish, and dairy products, for instance) are usually high in
muscle-building proteins and supply critical vitamins and minerals
(the vitamin E in nuts and oils, the calcium in cheese and
yogurt). So you can go on a low-fat diet for only so long before you
wind up facedown in a pint of Chunky Monkey. That’s the way
Mother Nature planned it.
What she didn’t plan for, however, was the craftiness of food
marketers. Knowing that low-fat dieters are secretly pining for
the old days when a nice slice of cake and a scoop of ice cream
ended every celebratory meal, grocery manufacturers go into the
laboratory and come out with hundreds of new low-fat foods. And
that leads to what should go down in history as The Great Snack-
Well’s Debacle.
Nabisco conceives SnackWell’s as the ultimate answer to the
low-fat diet craze. SnackWell’s, which you can still find on grocery
shelves today, are fat-free and low-fat cookies that somehow carry
nearly all the flavor of full-fat cookies. The secret is that Nabisco
loads up the cookies with extra sugar (except in the sugar-free varieties),
so consumers can indulge their sweet tooth without ever
missing the fat. How this development plays out in the mind of the
average consumer is simple to predict:
“All I have to do to lose weight is to cut out fat.”
“Yo! These cookies have no fat. Let’s buy two packages!”
“Honey, did you eat that second package of cookies for
breakfast? I wanted it!”
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 91
The magic bullet doesn’t work, in part because we need to eat
fats and in part because we’ve been fooled into thinking that we
can eat whatever we want, in whatever quantity we want, as long
as we aren’t eating fat. So we scarf down sugar calories by the
spoonful—and we all get just a little bit fatter in the process.
Okay, hop out of the time machine—trip’s over. It’s a decade
later and, instead of a low-fat craze, America is caught up in the
throes of a low-carb craze. And the same scenario is playing out
all over again. Every grocery store and corner deli is filled with
products—particularly “meal replacement” bars—that are marketed
with bywords like low-carb or carb smart.
Suddenly, it’s not hard to eat low-carb anymore. Today—and
increasingly more so tomorrow—we can fill our shopping carts
with all the foods we cut out for the past couple of years. Food
marketers are altering the makeups of their products, packing
them with soy protein and fiber and sugar alcohols—all ingredients
that lower the “net carb” impact of the food. Now, I’m all for
more protein and fiber. Sugar alcohol, on the other hand, is nothing
but empty calories that, in elevated quantities, cause gastric distress
and flatulence—but hey, whatever turns you on.
What I am against is the notion that marketers are peddling—
that we can eat whatever and whenever we want, as long as we’re
not eating carbs. It is exactly the same trap we fell into 10 years
ago: a restrictive diet that offers short-term success, turned into
a food craze that guarantees even greater health risks and higher
obesity rates.
And that’s a time travel destination no one wants to arrive at.

Low-Carb Dilemma #2: Follow the Money

REMEMBER WHAT I said about why the low-carb diet appears to
work? Because it cuts out a majority of foods that people love to eat,
and because it makes eating on the run difficult. Those two factors
conspire to restrict calories, and fewer calories mean less weight.
Now, here’s an easy question: How do food manufacturers
make money? By selling you food. So what happens when 60 million
Americans decide they’re going to stop buying all the candy
bars, loaves of bread, boxes of pasta, and jars of sugary spreads
that manufacturers have obligingly loaded with carbohydrates
over the past half century?
Food manufacturers are going to have to come up with something
else to sell. Something they can tout as low-carb, to appeal
to Atkins-oriented dieters, but something that’s familiar, easy to
find, and even easier to consume. And so begins the next phase in
the American obesity epidemic.
In February 2004, the New York Times reported on the growing
trend toward low-carb marketing among restaurants and grocery
stores. Retailers are being counseled by their business
advisors to open up “low-carb” aisles; restaurants are vying for the
coveted “Atkins approved” label to hang in their windows. And in
the past 5 years, an estimated 728 new food products claiming to
be low in carbohydrates have hit the shelves. Today, you can
snack on low-carb candy, low-carb cake, and low-carb brownies,
washing it all down with a couple bottles of low-carb beer.
To get a sneak preview of where all this is going, let’s hop back
into that time travel machine. This time, we’re not going to the
storied Middle Ages or the dawn of man . . . we’re just going back
about 10 years or so, to the beginnings of the last diet craze that
swept the nation: the low-fat craze.
It’s the early 1990s. The low-carb craze hasn’t yet begun to
blossom. (For better or worse, neither has Britney Spears.) But
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 89
another mantra has begun to take hold in American society: EAT
This directive comes not from a book-peddling diet doc but from
the U.S. government, in the form of a revised food pyramid designed
by the Food and Drug Administration. Fat has been fingered as the
root of all dietary evils: Simply put, fatty foods translate into fatty
people. Diet experts race to defend this idea, which on the face of
it sounds pretty logical: Dietary fat is more easily transformed into
body fat, whereas carbohydrates are preferentially burned off for
energy. Hence, swap your fat calories for carb calories, and voilĂ ,
you’ve entered into the magical weight loss zone.
Quickly, food manufacturers move to capitalize on these exciting
developments. As sales of fat-free milk rise, packages of
reduced-fat, low-fat, and fat-free cheeses, spreads, yogurts, ice
creams, cakes, and cookies begin to fill the supermarket shelves.
Some taste okay. Some taste like sugar-crusted cardboard. But
what the hell—no fat, no foul. Carbo-loading becomes a byword of
amateur athletes all across the country.
However, this whole low-fat theory comes with one big but.
(Actually, it comes with millions of big butts, as the obesity rate

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Origins of a Sweet Tooth

TO UNDERSTAND WHY carbohydrates are important, we have to
take another fantasy trip, this time back to the dawn of man. On
the savannahs of Africa, the high plains of Europe, the wetlands
of Asia, and the woodlands and jungles of the Americas, primitive
man learned how to feed himself from nature’s banquet table. He
learned how to fish and hunt, and later, how to domesticate animals
and grow grain. But since he first stood upright, man has
also had a craving for sweets.
As with all things, there’s a reason why we crave sweets. The
sweetest things on earth, back in those days before Cherry Garcia,
were fruits: wild berries, pears, citrus fruits, and the like. Not coincidentally,
fruits are also packed with nutrients: vitamins to
fend off disease, minerals to assist with cell function, and fiber to
regulate hunger, control blood pressure, and help ease digestion.
Without our sweet tooth, we would have been happy to eat
nothing but wooly mammoth and buffalo meat—the original
Atkins program. But nature saw to it that we craved the foods
that would make us healthy.
Fast forward to today, when the sweetest things don’t look
anything like tangerines. Whereas our sweet tooth was once nature’s
way of protecting us from disease, now it’s the food industry’s
way of tricking us into it. To satisfy our cravings, we turn
to cookies and cakes and chocolates instead of apples and pears
and blackberries. That’s one of the main reasons Americans today
are so fat. And it’s one of the main reasons why, in the short-term,
low-carb diets work.
By limiting carbohydrate intake, diets like Atkins create bydefault
weight loss. If you restrict yourself to just one class of
foods—low-carb foods, in this instance—you’re bound to lose
weight. That’s because the stuff you’re used to munching on, from
the doughnut you nosh in the car on the way to work to the
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 85
Snickers bar you snag from the vending machine before your drive
home, are now voided from your diet. You’re eating less food, so
you’re taking in fewer calories, so you lose weight.
The other sneaky advantage of an Atkins diet is that it focuses
on foods that are difficult to prepare and consume. It’s easy to pop
a bagel or a grapefruit into your briefcase; shove some steak and
eggs in there instead, and things get a little messy. So low-carb
diets restrict calories in two ways: by limiting food options, and by
limiting the ease with which we can consume food.
But there are two major reasons why, in the long-term, lowcarb
diets won’t work: Mother Nature and the almighty dollar.
Low-Carb Dilemma #1:
Take That out of Your Mouth!
SOMEONE WITH A SOUND understanding of nutrition and a sadistic
streak could have a field day torturing low-carb enthusiasts.
Here’s an evil trick: Take two pieces of soft, fresh, whole-grain
bread. Slather one side with 2 tablespoons of all-natural peanut
butter. Now take 1⁄2 cup of blackberries, mash them lightly with a
fork, and (this is where it gets really nasty) spread the mashed
berries onto the other piece of bread. Put the two sides together
and you’ve created the world’s healthiest PB&J sandwich: 5
grams of fiber (about as much as the average American gets in a
single day), 25 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C, 13 grams
of protein, and (sacre bleu!) a verboten 30 grams of carbohydrate.
(Oh, by the way, it tastes incredible.)
Float this concoction in front of a low-carb enthusiast and you
might as well be serving broiled rat viscera. (Come to think of it,
they’d probably prefer the rat viscera. No carbs.) The sandwich is
achingly sweet, soft, and chewy, a delicious comfort food that, at
the same time, is a cholesterol-busting nuclear missile. The fiber
86 T H E A B S D I E T
protects you from heart disease as well as from stroke and colon
cancer. The vitamin C boosts your immune system. And the highquality
(meaning high in fiber) carbs give you long-burning energy
and food for your brain. Yet phase one of the Atkins diet bans
every single ingredient in this simple sandwich.
Every single one.
In fact, the Atkins diet focuses on something called net carbs
that Atkins claims are the carbohydrates that actually impact
blood sugar. A rough formula for figuring out net carbs is to subtract
the number of fiber grams from the total number of carb
grams. (The reasoning being that fiber doesn’t impact blood sugar,
spike insulin, or contribute to fat storage.) By that calculation,
this sandwich has about 33 net carbs. Phase one of the Atkins diet
limits you to 20 net carbs per day. Eat this one super-good-for-you
food, and you’ll have to fast for the next day and a half to keep
your Atkins diet in effect.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this whole low-carb plan is
simply crackers. (Oh, sorry—not allowed to eat those.)
See, carbs are not our enemies. As I explained earlier, we crave
carbs because we need them to protect us against a host of ailments.
The low-carb craze works temporarily not because it limits
carbs but because it limits food intake. And if I came out with some
crazy diet plan that said you could only eat foods that are high in
fat or low in protein or bigger than a breadbox or start with the
letter P, believe me—you’d lose weight. For a little while, at least,
until you couldn’t look at pudding, parsnips, and poultry ever again.
You’d lose weight because, by restricting your food intake, I’ve
restricted your calorie intake. And the fact is, when you take in
fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight; when you take in
more calories than you burn, you gain weight. That’s true regardless
of where those calories come from. The Abs Diet works
both by cutting the number of calories you take in through a sen-
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 87
sible-but-satiating eating plan and by increasing the number of
calories you burn away by improving your metabolic function.
Fewer calories coming in here, a few more burned off there, and
presto—weight loss. No magic, no deprivation, and no pointing
fingers at the evils of carbohydrates.
The confusion about carbs comes from the fact that in today’s
society, we’re surrounded by high-carbohydrate foods that have
had all their positive attributes stripped from them. Commercial
bread baking has followed the same path as Michael Jackson—the
whiter it gets, the less wholesome it becomes. The refined flours
and sugars and sugar substitutes that you find in everything from
cookies to ice cream to mass-produced ketchup and peanut butter
give us all the calories and none of the nutritional benefits of their
original ancestors: whole grains and fruits. The lack of fiber in, say,
a plain bagel causes the calories in the bagel to be digested quickly,
flooding our bloodstreams with glucose, triggering spikes in the digestive
hormone insulin—which then turns the blood sugar into
fat cells and leaves us hungry once again.
But fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread products have a
very different effect on the body: They’re digested slowly, giving
us long-burning energy. Insulin levels stay steady while fiber
scours our bodies for cholesterol and other harmful substances,
and the vitamins and minerals inherent in those foods help protect
us from a host of ills.
The longer we try to go without carbs, the more our bodies
crave them. Eventually, you have to fall off a carb-restricting diet:
Your body is programmed to make you seek out carbs, just the
way it’s programmed to blink when something hurtles toward
your eye. It’s one of our natural defense mechanisms, and what
Mother Nature wants, she will eventually get.
Then again, what corporate America wants, it too will get.
Which presents us with part two of why the low-carb craze is a
disaster waiting to happen.


you with scientific evidence,
persuaded you with
real-life testimonials, and
referenced study after study
to show how the Abs Diet works and why it makes sense
for anyone who wants to manage his weight and live a
healthful, active, disease-free life. But just for a moment,
I want to step away from all the hard science and
take you on a bit of a fantasy adventure. Come this
way—I promise you’ll find it revealing.

First, I want you to imagine that you’ve taken a time machine
back to the Middle Ages. You find yourself at the door of an alchemist’s
laboratory, where magic elixirs and potions fill the
shelves and the echoes of mantras and spells fill the air. You’ve
traveled long and hard, through terrifying dark woods and vast,
arid deserts to seek out a Holy Grail of sorts: a concoction that
legend says will make you lose weight, magically.
The sorcerer appears, and he holds up before you two vials.
The first, he says, contains an elixir that will protect you from
most of the diseases known to man. Its ingredients hold properties
that will change your cholesterol profile and protect you from
heart disease; help scour your body for toxins and protect you
from the onslaught of cancer and the side effects of aging; energize
your body and your brain, making your thinking clearer and
helping to immunize you from Alzheimer’s; and, over the course
of your long life, control your weight and keep obesity and diabetes
at bay.
The second vial will do none of that. It will, in all likelihood,
raise your cholesterol profile and increase your risk for cancer,
stroke, and heart disease, as well as other ailments. But, if you
take it, it may help you lose weight dramatically—though only for
a short period of time. And there’s one more drawback: If you
choose the second vial, you can never sip from the first.
Which do you choose?
In the past 5 years, about 60 million Americans chose vial
number two.
Now, scrape the dust from the label on that vial and guess
The first vial, on the other hand, brims with all sorts of things:
fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and
nuts—the sorts of thing that nature intended us to eat but diet
plans like Atkins’s do not. And over the long term, if Americans
keep choosing vial number two, I think we’re going to pay—heavily.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


meet some of the men and women
who went on the Abs Diet—and
Patrick Austin dropped 30
pounds, half of it in just the first 2 weeks. Now he can’t
wait to take off his shirt at the beach.
John Betson turned a flabby 36-inch waist into a solid
32-incher and saw his abs for the first time in years.
And Jessica Guff stopped skipping meals—and
started wearing skimpier tops.
For Bill Stanton, the turnaround was an eye-opener:
“I’d been lifting weights all my life, but just by
changing my diet, my body got leaner and stronger

than ever. Guys at the gym even accuse me of being on steroids!”
Everyone’s body is different, and everybody who tries this plan
will have a different starting point. But based on the scientific research
I’ve outlined, you can expect an average loss of up to
20 pounds of fat on the 6-week plan and, for men, a gain of 4 to 6
pounds of muscle (about half that amount for women). For the average
man, that’s enough of a transformation to have your abs show.
One of the bigger challenges, however, is monitoring your progress
on the plan. Here’s a look at the four major measurements you can
use to see just how effectively the Abs Diet will work for you.
Weight. It’s the most straightforward. The heavier you are, the
more at risk you are for disease and the less fit you are. It’s a good
measuring stick to gauge how well you’re progressing on your diet,
but it’s incomplete in that it doesn’t take into account the amount
of muscle you’re going to develop over the course of a plan. Muscle
weighs about 20 percent more than fat so even a dramatic fat loss
may not translate into a dramatic drop in body weight.
76 T H E A B S D I E T
Name: James Schellman
Age: 26
Height: 5'8"
Starting weight: 164
Six weeks later: 156
A former professional athlete and an active guy who snowboards 60 days a
year, James Schellman didn’t feel like he needed to lose that much weight.
But then a series of nagging injuries started hampering his active lifestyle,
and he packed on an extra 10 pounds of belly flab. Schellman could have
blamed the weight gain and injuries on getting older, but that wasn’t his
style. “I didn’t want to slow down,” he says, “but I knew I needed a
change.” So he went on the Abs Diet to improve his condition and increase
Body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a formula that takes
into consideration your height and your weight, and gives you an
indication of whether you’re overweight, obese, or in good shape.
To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703,
and divide the number by your height in inches squared. For example,
let’s say you are 6 feet tall (that’s 72 inches) and weigh 200
pounds. So first we multiply your weight by 703.
200 703 140,600
Next, we calculate your height in inches squared, meaning we
multiply the number by itself.
72 72 5,184
Now we divide the first number by the second.
140,600 5,184 27.1
That’s not terrible. A BMI between 25 and 30 indicates you’re
overweight. Over 30 signifies obesity.
This measurement, too, has flaws. It doesn’t take into account
A S I X - P A C K I N 6 W E E K S 77
his muscle tone. Besides, Schellman says, “I figured I need to look good for
my wife.”
During the plan, Schellman lost 8 pounds. But the most significant transformation:
He cut his body fat from 18 to 11 percent.
Schellman has always enjoyed eating healthfully, but adjusting to the Abs Diet
paid off. “Before the plan, I ate about four meals a day and counted calories.
And with this one, I ate six times a day and let calories go by the wayside,” he
says. By basing meals around the delicious Powerfoods, “I didn’t have to
worry about the calories I was taking in.”
Schellman, who is used to spending a lot of time in the gym, credits the Abs
Diet Workout and its emphasis on lower-body exercises for making him
stronger and leaner and helping him burn off that burgeoning belly. “I have
seen stomach fat decrease. I can clearly see some of the muscles [in my abdomen],”
he says. “The plan has been a huge success—I’ve seen an increase
in my overall body strength, an increase in my motivation, an increase in my
self-esteem, and an increase in my well-being.”
muscle mass, and it also leaves out another important factor—
weight distribution, that is, where most of the fat on your body resides.
But BMI can give you a pretty good idea of how serious your
weight problem is.
Waist-to-hip ratio. Researchers have begun using waist size
and its relationship to hip size as a more definitive way to determine
your health risk. This is considered more important than
BMI because of that visceral fat I talked about earlier—the fat
that pushes your waist out in front of you. Because abdominal fat
is the most dangerous fat, a lower waist-to-hip ratio means fewer
health risks. To figure out your waist-to-hip ratio, measure your
waist at your belly button and your hips at the widest point
(around your butt). Divide your waist by your hips. For example,
if your hips measure 40 inches and your waist at belly button
level measures 38 inches, your waist-to-hip ratio is 0.95.
38 40 0.95
That’s not bad, but it’s not ideal. You want a waist-to-hip ratio
of 0.92 or lower. If you were to lose just 2 inches off your waist—
something you can do in just 2 weeks with the Abs Diet—you’d
find yourself in the fit range.
36 40 0.90
Body fat percentage. Though this is the most difficult for the
average man to measure because it requires a bit of technology,
it’s the most useful in terms of gauging how well your diet plan is
working. That’s because it takes into consideration not just weight
but how much of your weight is fat. Many gyms offer body fat measurements
through such methods as body fat scales or calipers
that measure the folds of fat at several points on your body. See
your local gym for what options they offer. Or try an at-home body
fat calculator. I like the Taylor Body Fat Analyzer and Scale 5553
for its price (about $50), convenience, and accuracy. If you want a
simple low-tech test (and this isn’t as accurate as what the elec-
78 T H E A B S D I E T
tronic versions will give you), try this simple exercise: Sit in a
chair with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Using
your thumb and index finger, gently pinch the skin on top of your
right thigh. Measure the thickness of the pinched skin with a
ruler. If it’s 3⁄4 inch or less, you have about 14 percent body fat—
ideal for a guy, quite fit for a woman. It it’s 1 inch, you’re probably
closer to 18 percent fat, which is a tad high for a man but desirable
for a woman. If you pinch more than an inch, you could be at
increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.
This last measurement can be the most significant because it’ll
really help give you a sense of how well you’re sticking to a plan.
As you see your body fat percentage decrease, you’ll see an increase
in the amount of visible muscle. Experts say that in order
for your abs to show, your body fat needs to be between 8 and 12
percent. For the average slightly overweight man, that means cutting
body fat by about half.
Before you start the plan, it’s important to record some of these
measurements so that you’ll know how far you’re progressing.
Take one baseline measurement, and then remeasure as needed
for motivation. I’d recommend measuring every 2 weeks. That’ll
be enough time to see significant differences to propel you
through the next 2 weeks. (Measure body fat percentage only at
the beginning and end of the plan, unless you have easy access to
a measurement system.) Any sooner than that, and you’re focusing
too much on numbers rather than process.
As with any diet plan, it’s also important to develop some kind
of quantitative goal—your ideal weight, waist size, or percentage
of body fat. This chart will help you figure out where you are and
where you need to go.
I don’t mean to hit you with more numbers than a fantasy
baseball nerd. In fact, it might be easiest to simply focus on one
number—six—so that the others will fall into place. When you
start to see those six abdominal muscles, it’ll mean that everything
else has decreased—your weight, your BMI, your waistto-
hip ratio, and your body fat percentage. This 6-week plan
will get you there. Here’s what you can expect from going on
the diet.
1–2A significant weight loss as
your body adjusts to a new
approach to eating. Some may see losses
up to 12 pounds in the first 2 weeks (especially
if you’re walking, or otherwise active,
each day), but 5–8 pounds will be average.
“I haven’t gone shirtless on
the beach in years,” he says.
“This year, I’m going to be
shirtless.” Read more about
Patrick’s success on page 100.
3–4By integrating a modest amount
of strength training into your routine,
you’ll start to feel your body change because
your metabolism is working hard. You’ll
notice an additional drop in weight (most likely
averaging another 5–8 pounds), but you’ll also
notice significant changes in your shape.
25 POUNDS IN 6 WEEKS. “I definitely
have more energy and
a more positive outlook on
life,” he says. Read more
about Brian’s success on page
5–6After 2 weeks of exercise, your
body is primed to make a significant
push to drop more fat while also gaining
muscle mass. You’ll notice that your
upper body is more toned and that your
waist and other fatty parts of your body are
smaller. Depending on your starting point,
this is where you’ll begin to see abs.
TO 16 PERCENT. “You can see
more muscle,” he exclaims.
“You can see my abs.” Read
more about John’s success on
page 140.
A S I X - P A C K I N 6 W E E K S 81
What you’ll find so remarkable about this program is how
simple it is to follow, how often you’ll eat—each meal and each
snack is an easy, muscle-building, fat-burning treat—and how unlike
any other “diet” the Abs Diet is. Very simply, the Abs Diet is
a plan that will ask you to:
Eat three meals and three snacks each day, with each
of your meals or snacks including several of the wideranging
Powerfoods discussed in an upcoming chapter.
Keep an eye out for a handful of diet busters that you’ll
learn to easily spot and cut down on—not eliminate.
Perform a simple, 20-minute workout three times a
week to turbocharge your fat loss and muscle growth.
The Abs Diet is so simple that unlike most diets, we don’t
break it into phases, and we didn’t design a complex “maintenance”
program (just a few simple words of wisdom that you’ll
find on page 261). The weight loss and muscle gains are yours to
keep for life, and so is the eating plan. We guarantee you won’t be
waiting for your “diet” to end. You’ll enjoy this program so much—
and be so wowed by the results—that you’ll effortlessly follow this
plan for life.
Other people have done it—other people who were in worse
physical condition than you. When they talk about why it worked,
they talk of the plan’s simplicity and its ability to keep hunger in
check. The Abs Diet is going to change your shape, your health,
your life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Cancer is the one scourge that can strike any of us at any time in life. It can hit
in the places we think about and care about on a daily basis—the skin, the
lungs, the brain—or in obscure places we don’t even understand, like the pancreas,
the kidneys, or the lymphatic system.
Simply put, cancer develops when cells in one part of the body begin to grow
out of control. As children, our cells are constantly dividing, creating the new
cells that help us grow. Once we reach adulthood, that cell growth stops, for
the most part. Once we reach our genetically programmed height and weight,
cells in most parts of the body divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells
or to repair injuries. (That’s why there’s no mid-thirties growth spurt, much as
we may wish for it.)
But cancer cells act like kids—they keep growing, dividing, and multiplying,
outliving our normal cells and interfering with the various functions of the
body. The most common type of cancer among men is prostate cancer (the
prostate is the gland located behind the scrotum that produces most of our
seminal fluid). The most common type of cancer among women is breast
cancer. Both result in about a quarter million new cases every year.
We don’t fully understand what causes cancer, but we do know some of the
risk factors: Obesity, low-fiber diets, smoking, heavy alcohol use, overexposure
to the sun, and exposure to radiation and other toxins are among the
biggest dangers. Additionally, there’s a strong link between heredity and
cancer; if one or more close relatives has suffered a bout of the disease,
you’re at increased risk for cancer in general and for that specific form of
cancer in particular.
I’d like to tell you that the Abs Diet is a magic bullet against cancer, but I can’t;
while dietary changes and exercise can dramatically decrease your risk for
heart disease, stroke, and especially diabetes, cancer remains a bit more elusive.
Still, by adopting the principles of the Abs Diet, you’ll automatically decrease
your risk for many forms of cancer, because you’ll decrease your weight
and increase your fiber intake. In the meantime, you can also follow these additional
tips to slash your risk even more.
Toss in the tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, a
nutrient that has been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. In
fact, researchers say that two to four servings of tomatoes a week can cut your
prostate cancer risk by 34 percent. (Even better news: Lycopene isn’t diminished
by cooking, so pasta sauce and pizza will strike a blow against the disease
as well.)
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 73
Color your plate. A 14-year study found that men whose diets were highest
in fruits and vegetables had a 70 percent lower risk of digestive-tract cancers.
Order the Chilean red. Chilean cabernet sauvignon is 38 percent higher than
French wine in flavonols—compounds called antioxidants that help deter
Try the cheese platter. A large-scale study of 120,000 women found that premenopausal
women who consumed a lot of dairy products, especially low-fat
and fat-free ones, ran a lower risk of breast cancer. Pay attention, men: You
can get breast cancer, too. And Harvard researchers have found that men with
diets high in calcium were up to 50 percent less likely to develop some forms
of colon cancer.
Squeeze a carrot. One 8-ounce glass of Odwalla Carrot Juice—pure pressed
carrot juice—gives you 700 percent of your daily recommendation for betacarotene
(and only 70 calories). Beta-carotene has been linked in several
studies to a lower risk of cancer.
Bite the broccoli. It contains a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has
been shown to fight various forms of cancer. Don’t like broccoli? Try daikon,
an Asian radish that looks like a big white carrot. It’s a distant cousin.
Serve the salmon. Or any other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s
can help mollify your cancer risk.
Order drinks with a twist. According to University of Arizona research,
lemon zest and orange zest contain d-limonene, an antioxidant that can reduce
your risk of skin cancer by up to 30 percent if you consume quantities as
small as 1 tablespoon per week.
Go green. In a recent Rutgers University study, mice given green tea had 51
percent fewer incidences of skin cancer than control mice. Green tea is another
great source of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Get a D. Foods high in vitamin D, like low-fat milk, help detoxify cancercausing
chemicals released during the digestion of high-fat foods, according
to a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Be Popeye. Japanese researchers found that neoxanthin, a compound in
spinach, was successful at preventing the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Show yourself the whey. Whey protein is a great source of cysteine, a major
building block of the prostate cancer–fighting agent glutathione.
Eat the whole grain. Whole-grain carbohydrates are a great source of fiber.
European researchers found that men with the highest daily intakes of fiber
also had a 40 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer.