Typically, when someone aspires to having a better six-pack -- or a six-pack, period -- he or she does it with a sense of urgency. We assume this applies to you, too. You want a lean, shredded midsection ASAP. But how long does it take? A few weeks? A few months? More than that? If we had a single answer, you'd be the first to know. But it depends on many factors, one of which is your starting point. (If you already have a four-pack, for example, you may be just weeks away.)
Whatever your situation, we feel your urgency, and we'd like to help you do something about it today. Here, we give you 30 tips for burning the fat that's covering the washboard abs that lie beneath. All of these tips can be used throughout the course of a single day. (And as an added bonus for minding these tips, you'll actually burn fat while you sleep.) But, of course, don't stop after just one day. Follow as many of these tips as you can day in and day out, and soon enough the aforementioned starting point will be history.
FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
1. Have a cup or two of coffee. Caffeine is found in most fat-burning supplements since it inhibits the storage of bodyfat and burns extra fat during exercise. Drink a large cup of coffee before cardio, but make sure it's black - don't add sugar or cream because the extra calories only impede your fat-burning efforts. Better yet, take 200-300 mg of a caffeine supplement. One study from Chonbuk National University (Chonju, Korea) found that caffeine and carnitine taken before a cycling workout increased fat-burning and endurance.
2. Supplement with BCAAs and carnitine before cardio. Cardio helps burn fat, but it can also burn muscle. So take 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and 1-2 grams of carnitine 30 minutes before cardio. BCAAs minimize protein breakdown, and carnitine maximizes fat-burning during the workout and helps maintain testosterone levels.
3. Do cardio before breakfast. When you do cardio on an empty stomach, your body is more apt to burn fat as its primary source of energy since glycogen stores are depleted from eight hours of fasting the night before. This might mean waking up 30 minutes earlier than normal, but the fat-burning benefits are worth it.
4. Do intervals. Any cardio is better than none, but intervals have been shown to burn more fat than cardio sessions done at a constant slow-to-moderate intensity. A study from Laval University (Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada) found that subjects who trained with intervals lost nine times as much bodyfat as those who performed a moderate-intensity cardio program for 20 weeks. Try going for 20-25 minutes at a roughly 1:1 ratio of intense to slow/moderate intervals (for example, sprint for a minute, walk for a minute and repeat).
5. Eat eggs for breakfast. After cardio, it's time to eat, and it doesn't get any better than whole eggs. The yolks contain nutrients, such as healthy fats and lecithin, that enhance muscle growth, promote fat loss and enhance mental function. The cholesterol found in eggs helps to synthesize testosterone, which aids fat-burning indirectly by promoting gains in lean muscle. The fat in yolks also provides much-needed energy to your muscle cells and typically isn't stored as bodyfat. A study found that consuming eggs for breakfast reduced hunger and food intake for more than 24 hours, compared to a breakfast containing bagels. Two or three whole eggs plus 2-3 egg whites for breakfast should suffice.
Worried about the cholesterol from egg yolks? Don't - one study from the University of Connecticut (Storrs) found that subjects who consumed an extra whole egg (640 mg of additional cholesterol) each day did not experience an increase in the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol particles associated with cardiovascular disease, compared to those not eating eggs.
6. Go slow. Along with protein and healthy fat, you should consume a slow-burning carbohydrate at breakfast. We suggest two slices of whole-wheat toast or 1 cup of cooked oatmeal. The slow-digesting carbs improve fat loss by keeping insulin levels steady and increasing the amount of fat you burn during exercise. You'll also have sustained energy for the next several hours, as whole grains digest slowly and feed your brain and muscles gradually. Researchers from Loughborough University (England) found that when athletes ate slow-digesting carbs at breakfast and lunch, they had lower insulin levels and higher levels of fat-burning during the day compared to those who ingested fast-digesting carbs. They also discovered that test subjects who ate slow carbs spared muscle glycogen better during exercise due to greater fat use. In addition, the fiber present in 100% whole wheat has been shown to aid fat loss and keep you feeling full so you don't overeat.
7. Eat half a grapefruit with breakfast. Consider this fruit a wildcard fat-burning food. One study from Scripps Clinic (San Diego) found that subjects who ate half a grapefruit three times a day lost an average of nearly 4 pounds in 12 weeks. This could be due in part to grapefruit's ability to reduce insulin levels as well as its high level of vitamin C, which is believed to be effective at burning fat.
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