Getting the Extra Fat off of your Abs

before and after

After about three attempts to get the extra fat off of my abs, I finally succeeded this year.  It was pretty hard, but at the same time it wasn’t complicated.  Let me tell you how I did it.

A Few Firsts

First of all, let me be the first to say that it isn’t necessary for you to have ripped abdominals.  You can be perfectly healthy without being able to see your 6 (or 8) pack.  My reason for doing it was because 1) I wanted to see if I could, 2) because a low body fat percentage enables me to be able to see my overall workout progress more readily, and 3) because, although I have never had a problem with extra weight, I have struggled with the skinny-fat syndrome (thin arms and legs with extra fat around the midsection), and I believed that if I could find out how to lose the stubborn fat, I could perhaps help others lose stubborn fat, too.

Another thing…I don’t care what the current state of your abdomen is…YOU HAVE A 6 PACK.  A lot of people believe that if they’re heavy in the midsection area, they lack abs.  That’s impossible.  If you didn’t have your abs, there would be nothing holding back your internal organs, and that would be pretty weird.  You have abs; they’re just covered in fat.

Let me add one more thing.  People like to say that there’s a ‘secret’ to getting ripped abs.  Well guess what…I know the secret.  The secret is that there is no secret.  Yes, getting the extra fat off of your stomach is difficult.  I tried several times before I succeeded.  However, it isn’t really that complicated.

Oh, and one more thing.  Perhaps this myth is already dead, but just to make sure, I’ll say it.  You cannot spot reduce.  You can’t lose weight only around your abs.  Your body is much too complex for that, and plus, if you did just lose fat around your abs, you might look pretty weird.  Think about it!

How I Finally Succeeded

So now you’re probably wondering, “so how then did you do it?”  Let me sum it up for you…

Vegetables.  LOTS of vegetables.

Exercise is an important part of the equation too, but it isn’t nearly as important.  When folks say that diet is 80% of the equation, they really aren’t playing.  I’ll say more on exercise later on.

To return to what I was previously saying, eating lots of vegetables is what guaranteed my success in getting the extra fat off.  These aren’t just any kind of vegetables, though.  I’m talking about vegetables like:

Spinach

Broccoil

Green Beans

Cabbage

Peppers

Onions

These vegetables and others like them comprised the bulk of my breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  I also consumed lots of the following fruits, usually during breakfast and for snacks:

Mandarin Oranges (i.e. Halos)

Grapes

Pineapple

Apples

Why did these help me lose fat?  Well, all of these plant foods are high in nutrients, but very low in calories.  This means that they promote health (which is most important), and they fill you up without you consuming excess energy that will turn into fat.  Since you’re not taking in as many calories, your body has the chance to use up its extra energy (fat) stored around the body.

Check this out.  You don’t even have to count calories.  You don’t have to count carbohydrates either.  If you make the bulk of your diet consist of these types of vegetables and fruits, for the most part, the fat loss will take care of itself (read my newspaper column here that discusses this).

There were certain types of foods that I avoided, which probably goes without saying.  I avoided sugary drinks, breads, pastas, other grains and so on, unless it was Sunday, which I designated as my one ‘free’ day.

Additionally, I lessened my consumption of certain foods, restricting them to my dinners during the week.  These foods included:

Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Corn

Beans and Peas (black beans, red beans, etc.)

The reason I lessened these is because they are ‘energy’ foods.  They are all pretty healthy, but if you desire to lose fat, you have to eat less of these since they tend to be high in energy.  You need to burn energy, and your body won’t do a good job of that if you’re eating a lot of energy.  Your body won’t see much of a need to, since it’s receiving all of this energy from another source.  You have to encourage your body to use your fat.

Meats are fine.  I personally didn’t eat much meat because of a personal thing I was doing, but meat should be perfectly fine.  For health reasons, I always say eat a lot more vegetables than meat, and also, you should avoid breaded and fried meat, unless you allow it on a single free day.

Where Exercise Comes In

Now back to how exercise comes into play.  Exercise can help you burn more calories and can therefore speed up your fat loss, especially if you do lots of cardio.  However, this can sabotage your efforts as well for one main reason:  If you do too much, you’ll lose fat and muscle.  You do not want this to happen!

The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate is, which involves how your body burns calories.  When you lose muscle, your metabolic rate lowers, which means that you burn less calories and are more likely to gain weight over time.

For this reason, I say that you should make sure you’re doing at least the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (as recommended by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by the US Department of Health and Human Services).  Your main exercise focus should be on strength training, which includes anything that strengthens and builds your muscles. Anything that works your muscles with resistance, whether it be bench press or push-ups, will count.

Why should you focus on strength training instead of aerobic exercise?  I say you should because strength training will help you preserve valuable muscle as your diet largely takes care of the fat.  When you do the minimum recommended aerobic exercise, it will provide enough work to make sure your heart is healthy, and to give you a little edge with fat loss without turning you into a skeleton.


If you’ve been confused about how to lose extra fat, I hope this article helps you.  As you see, it isn’t really that complicated to know how to eat and exercise to lose enough fat to reveal your abs.  I didn’t say that doing this wouldn’t be hard, though.  As you make these healthy changes, your body will buck what you’re doing.  However, I say to you…hang in there.  You can do it, and your body will thank you for it.

6 Responses to “Getting the Extra Fat off of your Abs

  • Geraldine McClendon
    2 years ago

    Great information Shawn!

  • This is good stuff. 150 minutes a week huh? Cool. Finally got that darn separation in my abs closed so now I can focus on more strength training overall. Thanks!

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