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GrahamsGut.com — Diary of a mans attempt to lose his gut. — Page 8

How To Get Six Pack Abs

October 11, 2011

It’s been a few weeks since my last update and I’m pleased to say I’m finally back on track. In the months leading up to my summer holiday I was losing weight at a very steady rate but that all got blown out of the water with the excess of eating and drinking on holiday.

I only put on a few pounds but what I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that the summer holidays are six weeks long, so even though I was back from my vacation, I found it very difficult to get back into a routine of regular healthy eating and exercise. We had a lot of visitors over the summer with the inevitable big meals, drinking, eating out, day trips with the kids with more eating out. Then we went visiting friends and relatives which mean’t I wasn’t able to get much exercise and the net result of all of that was that my weight drifted sideways to upwards, on average, since the beginning of August really until the schools started back again. At one point I had put on another 2.5 kgs (5.5lbs) which is quite a lot:

What was basically happening was that I was not paying much attention to my diet and hardly exercising at all. Because I’m now at a healthy weight this didn’t concern me too much and whenever I saw my weight going up, I would watch what I was eating for the next day or so and it would go down again. And this mean’t I was bouncing around between 70Kg and 72.8kg for about two months.

But now the schools are back, everyone has knuckled down to work again, and I’ve started on Phase Two of my mission to get rid of my gut.

Phase Two is basically this…. Six Pack Abs.

So my gut is more or less gone, but there still a bit of flab hanging around, and so I thought I would take this opportunity to get rid of all the fat on my belly and end up with a six pack.

Bearing in mind I’m nearly 44 years old and I’ve had a beer gut for two decades, this would really be something and I reckon it’s something I could get before the year is out.

So I’ve moved the goal posts again.

To get a six pack you need to bring your body fat percentage to below 10%. Everyone has a six pack, the problem is it’s usually covered in a layer of fat. So my plan is to lose another five pounds or so but without losing muscle mass.

To do this I’m going to have to make sure I’m eating a good portion of protein at least 6 times a day with my meals, doing resistance exercises with weights five or six times a week, and a bit of cardio too.

This may sound like a lot but since I’ve already formed the habits of healthy eating and exercise over the last nine months it doesn’t seem like it to me. I don’t feel like I’m having to really work hard to do this.

So in the next update we can see how I’ve been getting on!


I’ve read a lot about HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, and apparently this is a much better way to lose weight fast than doing long, sustained cardio as it causes your body to release fat burning chemicals into the system which burn fat even after you’ve finished. Of course, it has the added advantage of taking less time to do!

But I’ve never thought of doing 30-60 second bursts in between weight training sets, which, according to this article, improves your fat burning performance massively:

Using cardio bursts throughout a workout achieves maximum calorie burn and weight loss in less time.

The Science Behind Cardio BurstsPress Ups

Cardio burst workouts feature high intensity interval training. The method elevates the heart rate for a brief period of time before bringing it back down and then back up again, never allowing the heart rate to stabilize.

“Interval training and vigorous exercise cause a large rise in the body’s fat-releasing chemical including adrenalin,” Dr. Michele Olson said. Olson helped design the Firm Express, a home fitness regime that incorporates cardio bursts. “Adrenalin is what makes the heart pump faster and stronger,” she continued.

A variety of studies show the benefits of HIIT, cardio burst training. Some of the benefits, according to The Epoch Times include helping more blood and oxygen reach the heart, improving fatigue threshold, protecting against some increases in blood pressure, and increasing the efficiency of how muscles use oxygen.

“When one works out vigorously, the heart has to function at a high rate to supply the muscles with the oxygenated blood they need for rapid contractions,” Olson said. She continued to explain that as adrenalin hits fat cells “it causes them to release fat sooner and in higher amounts during exercise – an effect that is prolonged after the exercise is finished. But, adrenalin levels during longer steady-state cardio do not climb enough to elicit the same high release of fat. “

Putting Cardio Bursts to Work in Your Fitness Routine

Adding cardio bursts to your routine does not have to be difficult. Some bursts that you can try include high knee switch, tuck jumps, sprinting in place, and burpees.

* For the high knee switch, start with your right knee at waist level. Then, jumping slightly off your left toe, switch your legs. Go back and forth repeatedly.

* Tuck jumps really boost your heart rate. All you have to do is jump, bringing your knees up to waist level, tucking your legs. Do this repeatedly.

* Sprinting in place is as easy to do as it sounds. Tighten your core, bend forward slightly and move your feet as quickly as possible in place.

* Burpees incorporate squats and push-ups. Drop into a squat position and place your hands on the floor. Then, kick your legs back so that you are in a plank position. Once there, do a push-up before jumping your legs back in and standing up again.

A cardio burst can last anywhere from 8 to 60 seconds during a normal workout. The burst normally takes place between regular workout sets. For example, one set of weight training would be followed by a burst during which the heart rate would be elevated. After the burst, go back to strength training and then repeat.

Adding cardio bursts to a workout routine elevates the success of your exercise program. Shape magazine referenced one study that found “a single 30-second sprint ups blood levels of human growth hormone—which boosts lean muscle and can melt fat—by a whopping 530 percent.” Try the HIIT, cardio burst technology to burn fat and lose weight fast.


This is an absolutely excellent article from ctv.ca about sustained weight loss. Everyone can lose weight on a diet, but the body ALWAYS adjusts to the new you and makes sustained weight loss very difficult. There is a solution, thankfully, and it’s one I can personally verify:

Lose weight nowAs if we needed yet another reminder that life isn’t fair, a new mathematical model for weight gain/loss shows that the deck really is stacked against us.

Anyone who has tried to diet knows that losing weight and keeping it off is hard. Really, really hard. No matter how many pounds you are trying to lose, getting good results from whatever diet you’re on takes vigilant effort and attention: you snooze, you don’t lose.

And for almost everybody such vigilance is impossible to maintain. “The Real Diet Story” pictured here is all too familiar to too many people.

In contrast, putting on weight just seems to happen. Poof. Without anything really changing you wake up one morning and think, “wow, my clothes feel a little tight, how did that happen.” Or you start to get discouraged because you are eating less and moving more — the magic formula — but the weight no longer seems to be coming off as quickly as it had been.

At least now we know why such an unfair imbalance exists: it’s built into the dynamic changes human energy-use goes through while people lose weight, at least according to new research published this summer in The Lancet and nicely discussed by Jane Brody in the NY Times.

Using a “mathematical modelling approach to adult human metabolism that simulates energy expenditure adaptations during weight loss ” (Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight ), the researchers provide a nugget of wisdom that should become the new common sense: the more you lose and the longer you do it, the harder it gets.

Our dietary common sense needs to shift. No longer should people make decisions based on the idea that exercising a specific amount or reducing calories by a specific amount always results in predictable weight loss. Dr. Kevin Hall and his colleagues write:

Health and nutrition organisations have perpetuated the myth that a reduction of food intake of 2 MJ (478 calories) per day will lead to a steady rate of weight loss of 0·5 kg (1.1 lbs) per week. Because this static weight-loss rule does not account for dynamic physiological adaptations that occur with decreased bodyweight, its widespread use at both the individual and population levels has led to drastically overestimated expectations for weight loss.

It’s well known that when you lose weight you spend less energy doing the things you do. For example, running the same distance now uses less energy because your legs are carrying less of you: an over-sized SUV use lots more gas than a sedan (and please excuse the metaphor).

In researcher-ese, “the energy expenditure of added physical activity is proportional to body weight itself.” What Dr. Hall and his colleagues did was integrate this observation into a model that predicts the familiar experience that dieting gets harder and harder the longer you do it.

Their model is directly applicable to people trying to diet. If you don’t expect difficulties to emerge as you have success losing weight, you will get discouraged and go back to familiar, routine food choices that put on weight. As they predict, without realizing it you’ll start to eat just a little bit more, not that much but enough to shift the balance.

These additional calories, even just a few, combined with the reduced energy expenditure from the weight loss to-date puts people back on a weight gain trajectory.

So, instead of just busting into a diet with some dramatic gesture — like a fast or some dramatic, trendy food choice —  people might want to think upfront about developing a a new lifestyle, one that includes a new, psychologically sustainable relationship with food.

The model shows that lasting weight loss takes a long time to achieve and suggests that more effective weight loss programs might be undertaken in two phases: a temporary, more aggressive change in behavior at first, followed by a second phase of a more relaxed but permanent behavioral change that can prevent the weight regain that afflicts so many dieters despite their best intentions.

This model does not lead to wild optimism; it leads to patience and hard work. It won’t generate new products enthusiastically pitched by some “success story.” No urban gym will witness a wildfire rumor about some new diet being “the answer!”. But there’s comfort, real comfort, in the model.

It’s good to know that if you’ve been caught on the “diet treadmill,” it’s not your fault, you do not need to be a better dieter and you do not need a better “diet.” Rather, the dynamics of eating, activity, energy expenditure, time, and weight actually combine to make it impossible for there to be any solution — no matter how popular the diet or charismatic the spokespeson — other than sustainable, enduring lifestyle changes.

While this new understanding takes away the illusory comfort of dramatic quick-fix diet-solutions because we now know it is an effort doomed to fail, we gain the comfort reality brings when reality offers viable alternatives. What works takes time.

If you want to lose weight, you need to develop a new, psychologically sustainable relationship with food that can carry you for years and years. How to do that, what I’ve elsewhere said comes from developing “culinary mindfulness,” is of course another question and something I hope to write about again soon.


Lose weight by sleeping.

October 7, 2011

You need to be getting a proper nights sleep, 7-8 hours a night, if you want to stay in tip top shape.

I personally do very well on 7 hours but I often struggle to get to bed before 12.30 so probably only get 6 hours two or three times a week. It’s easy enough to go to bed if you’re single, but if you have a partner that requires much less sleep than you, it gets difficult!

Beware of getting too much sleep as well. I know people that regularly have over 8 hours a night! Besides the fact that it’s not good for you, these people spend over a third of their lives asleep! What a waste.

Here’s the article:Sleep

Q. What’s more important: getting enough sleep or fitting in an early-morning or late-night workout?

A. To change your body composition in the least amount of time, cleaning up your diet and getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep are both essential. Sleep is extremely important for body composition and helps the body and brain restore and rejuvenate in many different ways. Plus, sleep (or the lack thereof) affects important hormonal activity tied to appetite and therefore has a direct impact on your ability to lose weight (i.e. body fat).

One study published online at the Public Library of Science shows how sleep is connected to eating habits and weight gain. The December 2004 study found that people who slept less than 7 to 8 hours a night ate significantly more and weighed more than those who slept longer. What’s more, the more sleep deprived the person was, the more they ate and the greater their weight gain. These results can be directly attributed to two key appetite-regulating hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin (a hormone secreted by our fat cells) and ghrelin (a hormone secreted in our stomachs) work like a checks and balances system in the body and control your feelings of fullness and hunger. When you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels drop and your ghrelin levels rise. In other words, you’re more likely to crave sugary, high-carb foods (thanks to higher levels of Ghrelin) that have the potential to sabotage your diet.

Growth hormone—which is extremely important for tissue repair, body fat reduction, and healthy immune function—also gets released during sleep.

Now you can see why getting quality sleep is just as important as your workout routine and nutrition. In fact, I would rank sleep and diet as more important than exercise, especially if fat loss (i.e. getting a lean, toned body) is your primary goal.