At the risk of coming off as a total douche bag thirsty for Instagram likes, I think it is safe to say that the average man is concerned about the state of his abs. Let's get real guys. Men these days get a lot of expectation about their looks when it comes to their physique. There is plenty of discussion when it comes to women being objectified by their bodies and what society thinks is beautiful; but when it comes to men, there is little to none.
I feel I can have an open voice in this area, unlike some of my male friends, who feel they would be judged for even opening up the dialogue. As a full time model and aspiring actor as well as a photographer and blogger, it is very clear my jobs and interests lie in the physical realm. I'm constantly surrounded by beautiful people that stake their career on and define themselves by their looks. So needless to say, I've spend plenty of years looking in the mirror and addressing what I don't like about myself.
Now the reason for this article and the title that I'm sure caught your attention for some reason or another. But before I get into my tips for how I pursue having great looking abs, let me say that regardless of the state of your six pack or no pack, You are beautiful the way that God carefully and specifically made you to be. Please do not feel obligated to go on some binge diet to be what some parts of society deem as attractive. And please don't sign up for the next round of fat camp…..just don’t. Also, note that my career is based on my looks, so I might tend to go a little over board. But it is my job. I need money people. Hahaha
There are some general rules when training for abs but they are completely different for different body types. I however will only give what has helped me personally. I'm not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, but I have done a fair amount of research and tried a good number of things. This is what works best for me.
Carbs. Man I love me some carbs. I could literally eat cereal, pasta, pizza, and just bread in general for every meal and I would be so, so happy. Happy, but I would look like a potato, which is a carb! Get it!? Carbs get a bad rep from the "healthy" people because a few reasons. Carbs take the longest to burn in the body. They require more work and a longer period of time to digest and tend to turn to fat rather quickly. But also note that carbs are in everything. Even sugar is broken down into, surprise, carbs. But I will be referring to bread and wheat carbs when I talk about them. Vegetable or fruit carbs are not going to be as hard to burn and digest as bread carbs would be.
When it comes to my abs showing, the difference can be as little as eating a pizza. When I eat heavy carbs daily, I start to flatten out and lose all the definition in my abdomen, thus hiding my upper, lower, and oblique muscles. An easy way to lose a little bit of the bloat that could be hiding your glorious six pack is cutting down your carbs. I personally compensate by adding in a lot of vegetables and good fats to keep me full and satisfied after meals.
Now I'm sure you’re already depressed at this point thinking, "I'll never have abs because pizza is my life". Fear not, you can still have your pizza and abs too. Stick with me. You just have to be smart about what is called “carb cycling”. It took me some time to find this out. I literally cut out bread for a good year and a half before I discovered I could still eat pasta and have abs. Yea, I don’t know what I was thinking! I blame my addictive personality. Thanks dad. Carb cycling is where you can have your carbs and then you strictly cut them for a specific period of time. For example, there are days where I want pizza, so I have a pizza. Literally I eat a whole pizza. Just me. Judge me. I enjoy every bite of it and refuse to feel guilty about it either. So then the next day, I will up my cardio and cut my carbs down to only 1 sweet potato or a cup of brown rice a day. This way I can still go out and eat good food without being that guy that only eats salad at restaurants, which I do all the time. I just love salad okay. If you only hear one thing in this, know that you need carbs to survive. Don’t go killing yourself to “look great”. Learn what works best for your body. Experiment with cutting different foods and seeing how they affect you. If you notice that you feel extremely weak or get headaches when you don’t eat any carbs, consider doing more cardio at the gym to compensate. The best way to pursue having great abs is to still be happy and enjoy your life while doing it. That is the only way it will stick for any period of time.
Another method you can put into play is “intermittent fasting”. This is a fairly new concept that has been around, but has only recently been embraced by the fitness community. I learned it from a really dope YouTube trainer called “Kinobody”. Intermittent fasting is not as scary as it sounds. When I say “fasting” I mean cutting calories for a period of time. This time frame is typically anywhere from 5-9 hours for me. For example if I’ve had a heavy carb day for lunch, then I might just have a small bowl of veggies and a cup of coffee for dinner. I would also eat a little earlier than normal. This way, I'm going to bed on an empty stomach and waking up having not eaten for a good 10-13 hours. This maximizes fat loss and really helps balance eating carbs for me. No, I'm not starving myself. I am simply eating a huge meal and a huge surplus of calories and then not eating for a longer period of time to rebalance and burn off what I consumed. A good time to do this for me tends to be in the morning. I will wake up and skip breakfast. Please chill, breakfast is not the most glorified meal of the day that the internet has made it out to be. You will not die if you skip breakfast. Haha. A good way to help you through those hours that you’re fasting but also craving is to use coffee or tea as an appetite suppressant. I go through about 3-5 cups of each a day when I'm cutting. I love coffee and tea and the great thing is that they are 0 calories. Be sure to drink your coffee black or with just a splash of almond milk to remain burning calories. A Starbucks Frappuccino is not a coffee people haha.
On that note, if you really just switch out a few key foods then cutting calories and losing body fat can be quite simple. The bottom line comes down to calories. Are you burning more than you are taking in in a day? This is the key to fat loss and great abs. Cut out soda and drink only water or eliminate all processed sugars and GMOS. This too means being aware of what is going into your food. It may be a little much for some but I really enjoy educating myself on the food I eat and what is going in it. I cannot tell you how many eye rolls I have endured from friends and family when they offer me something to eat, and I immediately read the nutrition label or inquire all the details in it’s making. haha. But regardless of being misunderstood, I enjoy food and I also enjoy my body. I am happier when I am healthier and my body is a lot happier and looks so much better too.
Eating clean and organic is something I have come to really love and enjoy. I've learned to really enjoy a healthy life style over the years. I love cooking my own meals and trying new recipes. I also love that I can have a balance. I can enjoy pasta or some sweets every now and then. The simple point is that there is no quick way to abs, you really have to have a lifestyle to have and keep your body fat down and your abs showing and staying leaned and toned. Like anything else, it has to be a priority if you are serious about it. You may have to deal with a few laughs at the dinner table or be the brunt of a few jokes for only drinking water, but it's so worth it in my opinion. Living a healthier lifestyle all the time means that you don't have to run to the gym before summer so that you can brave the beach with the masses. Summer bod where you at!? If you are smart and consistent with your training and diet, then you'll look great all year long.
Here are some before and after photos spanning over the past few years. You can really see how I have noticeable lost body fat around my midsection and even in my jaw line. 2014 to 2015 is where I saw the biggest changes in my body. This is when I really cut down on carbs and started implementing intermittent fasting into my routine.
Now back to abs. Most of this will come down to your diet. You can kill yourself doing crunches and every other latest ab exercise that comes into play, but it is completely true when they say that, “abs are built in the kitchen”. I actually do less ab workouts now than when I was younger and my abs looks better now than then. It is ultimately getting your body fat to a low enough point where you abs will show. That is it. Low body fat = abs. You can even look at these photos of me from a few years ago and see how much fat I have lost as a result of changing my lifestyle. I haven’t lost a ton of weight, but a ton of fat. I’ve put on more muscle and burned more fat, just by changing my diet.
Typically, you need to be at 12% body fat or lower for you abs to really pop and show. Now you can see where eating a lot of bread and pasta will up that percentage, thus hiding your physique. I mean you are what you eat.
Best, Dillan Moore