What Are Abdominal Muscles (Abs)?
There are four main abdominal muscles:
- Rectus abdominis.
- Transverse abdominis.
- External oblique.
- Internal oblique.
Your abdominal muscles help to stabilise your core. This assists with breathing, they are allowing movement, protecting your internal organs and are the main postural support and balance.
This is what your abdominal muscles look like:
It is important to maintain strength in all these muscles to help maintain your posture. Keeping strong abdominal muscles can also help reduce back pain, this takes pressure from your back muscles and puts them onto the core. Therefore relieving back muscle tension and restoring balance between the muscles.
With a strong core you can also increase your flexibility, this is because your back muscles:
- Increases flexibility on the spine
- Become a better support for the body
Overall: Abdominal muscles are a great benefit to the majority of the bodies overall mechanism. They allow movement, provide stability, support and balance. Strong abs can prevent back pain and other muscular problems. This is due to the core being central of the body and taking a good amount of pressure similar to the back muscles.
Abdominal Fats Explained:
Subcutaneous fat is known as white fat. When we are young we store brown fat, this is to keep us warm but as we grow this eventually turns to white fat. This is the outer fat you can pinch, It is located between your skin and muscles.
Subcutaneous fat is not dangerous it is just not pleasant for physical looks. Subcutaneous fat releases hormones into the blood at a slow rate and much slower concentration, this then releases a chemical called adiponectin.
Adiponectin is a protein hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and also fatty acid oxidation, commonly known as the fat burning process. If you have small fat cells then they will stay small with this process. If you have larger cells, you would need to regulate your caloric intake and activities to help produce and speed up adiponictin.
Visceral fat is known as deep fat, this is stored underneath the subcutaneous fat. It is surrounding and wrapping itself around major organs which include:
- The liver
Visceral fat can be dangerous as the fat cells do not just sit and do nothing, they can change the way your body operates. This is due to the fat being considered toxic.
Visceral fat has the property to act almost like an organ all on it’s own due to the impact it has and the implications of assisting illnesses such as:
- Coronary heart disease and other various conditions
Eating too many calories has a major impact on creating this fat.
Overall: There are two types of abdominal fat — subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is more sightly whereas visceral fat releases hormones that have been linked to disease.
Having Strong Abs is Not Enough!
Exercising your abdominal muscles will strengthen them! However, twisting, crunching and side bending will not make your abdominal muscles visible if they are covered by a thick layer of fat.
When present in large amounts, subcutaneous fat will prevent you from seeing your abdominal muscles. If you have visceral fat as well then this will not be achieved until your diet is reducing fat size.
Once you have rid visceral fat, you then need to get rid of subcutaneous fat from your abdominal area in order to start seeing defined abs or a six pack.
Overall: Exercising your abs will help them become strong and muscular, changing your diet will help reduce the fats and eventually you should see muscle.
Will Ab Exercises Burn Belly Fat?
Evidence suggests targeted ab exercises are not very effective alone. Adding a combination of aerobic exercises, resistance training and a healthy diet (which includes plenty of protein and portion control) will help reduce belly fat.
Spot Reduction May Not Be Effective?
The term “spot reduction” refers to the misconception that you can lose fat in one spot by exercising that part of your body.
While muscles grow and strengthen, studies show they won’t help you get rid of belly fat. This needs a combination of diet and exercise.
Do not be put off, unfortunately you have to alter all aspects to achieve the target area. This also applies to all areas of the body not just abs.
What Are The Best Exercises?
One reason why targeted fat loss does not work is because muscle cells cannot use the fat contained in fat cells directly. Fat mass needs to be broken down with a clean diet.
Fat can come from anywhere in the body, and not just from the body part being exercised.
Sit-ups and crunches seem like a good idea to target the abdominal area but it isn’t particularly effective for burning calories.
What Should You Do?
Regular whole-body exercises will speed up your metabolism and burn calories and fat.
Aerobic exercise and other cardio exercises may also be effective at targeting visceral belly fat.
Moderate or high-intensity exercise can reduce belly fat mass.
Low-intensity aerobic exercise or strength training is more beneficial towards the end as this will start to sculpt muscle and definition. You need to exercise often if you want to achieve significant results.
- Try moderate-intensity cardio for 30 minutes for five days a week.
- Try high-intensity cardio for 20 minutes for three days a week.
The muscle changes that take place in response to exercise also promote fat loss. Therefore the more muscle mass you build, the more fat you will burn and with a great diet your results will be achievable.
Will changing my diet help burn belly fat?
There is an old saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” There is truth to this, as good nutrition is essential if you want to lose body fat.
For starters, reduce your intake of processed foods. These are commonly packed with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain and increase your risk of metabolic diseases.
Focus on consuming higher amounts of protein, high-protein diets lead to a major reduction in hunger and will give feelings of fullness that may translate to a lower calorie intake. This is due to replacing the hunger hormone and boosting satiety hormones.
A protein intake of around 25–30% of your daily calories may increase your metabolism by up to 100 calories per day.
Increasing your fibre intake is another good strategy for weight loss. Vegetables high in soluble fibre have been shown to help with weight loss. They contribute the increased feelings of fullness and decrease calorie intake over time.
Portion control is effective, moderating your food intake has been shown to help with weight loss as you are not over eating and also giving your body the correct balance and ratio needed to lose fat.
When you consume whole foods, more fibre, more protein and control your portions, you are more likely to cut back on calories.
Achieving a long-term calorie deficit is beneficial for losing weight and belly fat.
Overall: Good nutrition is important for losing belly fat. Eat fewer processed foods, watch your portions and increase protein and fibre.
Losing Belly Fat Effectively!
By combining all of the above information and methods it will help you burn calories, speed up your metabolism and make you lose fat.
This will ultimately cause belly fat loss and give you a flatter stomach.