If I had a dollar for every time I get asked which are the best exercises to get abs, I would be a rich man. (In case you are wondering I am not a rich man.) But here is the truth about abs: You need to burn calories and eat clean if you want to see those bad boys. In other words, crunches alone won't do it. Not even close.
When clients ask me about how they can get a ripped six-pack, I tell them this: Abs are made in the kitchen. Here's what I tell them to eat for best results.
1. Put butter in your coffee.
As much as I have tried to disprove this butter-in-your-coffee nonsense, I have become a believer. Now, I still have a hard time imagining that butter (even the grass-fed kind) is good for you every day, but for purposes of weight loss this shit works (no pun intended). If you want to get lean, add in this morning routine one to two times a week: a Bulletproof coffee—or your own homemade equivalent—and a 30-minute walk, followed by a quick HIIT session later in the day. You will be burning calories all day long with this routine.
2. Stock your fridge with olives and avocados.
Whatever government official actually allowed this "low-fat diet" nonsense to become public policy should be pushed off a cliff for the damage this mindset has done to our country. (You would not hurt my feelings if you tossed the food lobbyists off with them.)
When a client comes to me wanting to lose weight, I do two things. I lower their carb intake and increase their fat intake. Two healthy fats that taste great and I have my clients keep in their fridge are olives and avocados. Add these to your salads and meals, or just go caveman style: Some days, I just grab a handful of olives on my way out the door.
3. Eat meat! But not too much.
Yesterday I had a former client come back into town, and she looked amazing. We had not been training in person, but she was doing my 20-minute online workouts. Now, as much as I would like to brag and tell you that my workouts were the primary reason she has a ripped, defined core, it is only part of the equation. When I pressed her for what had changed, she said she had started following my diet.
This client had been about 90 to 95 percent vegan when we trained together. I always respect my clients' wishes and honor their choice to consume or not consume meat and do not try to convince them to change. But I tell them, just as I am telling you now: Animal fats and proteins help lean you out.
Now, I have some vegan friends who are amazing athletes and wonderful people, but every one of them exercises for about three to four hours a day to burn off all the excess carbs.
My vegan friends do have two things right: One, the majority of your diet should be veggies. Two, the way we mass-manufacture animal products here in the States is disgusting and most likely is contributing to a lot of our illnesses. So if you do decide to eat Bambi, choose responsibly. I'm talking wild game, grass-fed steak, wild salmon, and organic chicken—not whatever they're serving at the closest fast-food restaurant.
And stick with fist-size servings. Americans consume way too much meat. Your plate should be three-quarters full of veggies, with the remaining quarter a combo of fats and proteins.
4. Lay off the grains.
You're probably saying, "Uh, I thought this was a list of foods to eat?" Well, the foods above won't do you a damn bit of good if you are having pasta for lunch and pizza (yes, even gluten-free pizza) for dinner.
Am I a nutritionist? Nope. Am I claiming that grains are bad for you? Nope. And before your nutrition guru waves this article off as another meat-head trainer, have them show you their abs. (If their degree and system is so amazing, how come you can’t see their abs? Well, either their approach doesn't work, or they're lazy.)
It's your body, and you have the right to listen to whomever you want. But would you get financial advice from a broke guy? Just a thought. So, until you hit your goal in regards to your body composition, lay off the grains. Once you hit your target, and you want to slowly bring them back into your diet, go for it.
FYI, as I am writing this I am eating a freshly made coffee cake made from scratch with grass-fed butter. Isn’t the contradictory? Well, yes and no. If I had a photo shoot in a week, I would not have the cake—but believe it or not I do advise enjoying life. Get the picture? You need to decide if you are looking for a short-term goal, a long-term lifestyle, or something in between.