Q&A: Food Cheat Days and Stomach Pooch

Eric October 21, 2010

Q: I am on a quest to get the hard “bread roll” abs you guys talk about. I do a lot of intense routines, try to mix up my exercises all the time and have added weighted ab workouts to my regimen [thanks Eric], etc etc.  I’m eating really well-balanced (high protein, low-fat, low-carb) meals 6X a day and try to follow the hardcore meal plans and recipes [thanks Brandon]. I’ve tried Hydroxycut Hardcore and even JetFuel Pyro for a few months and have seen some awesome changes in my body. However, as I’m sure most guys can attest, there is this little bit of stubborn fat right around my belly button that never seems to go away.  I can see my abs and my “V”…..but its just that last stubborn area right in the middle that I cant seem to get rid of and sometimes makes me feel a little “poochy”  (I prefer to call it Pucci  😉  )   Anyway, are there specific ab routines that focus on that particular area or is it all about nutrition and continually mixing things up until one day it will eventually be gone?  Will it just take a lot of hard work and dedication and <8% body fat to ever truly be rid of it?

Spencer – Salt Lake City, UT

A: Spencer, you basically answered your own question here.  There isn’t a specific exercise to focus on just the belly button area of your abs.  Doing weighted leg raises definitely won’t hurt, but the sad reality is that the extra fat around your belly button is not going to go away without a lot of cardio, strict eating, and time.  One thing that a lot of people don’t really think about is how very little things could potentially be sabotaging all their hard work.  The empty calories you’re getting from sweets, alcohol, etc could be counteracting all the hard work you do.  I don’t know of a single fitness model who drinks, even in moderation.  It sounds like you’re doing all the right things, and you just need to give your body time to react to them.  (I used this picture to illustrate how hot this guys body is, but you STILL can’t see the separation in the lower part of his abs.  Sometimes, your body is just built that way, try building up your chest and arms so that people won’t look at your stomach.  HA!)

– The Squad

Read about food cheat days after the break…….

Q: How important is a food cheat day?  I have read a bunch of stuff that says that it’s important to every once in a while to shock (for lack of a better term) your body with a different amount of calories.  Is there any truth to this?  I can see how this may make sense because changing things up during training leads to success but does the same apply for diet?

Robb – Submitted Online

A: Robb you are correct, food cheat days are good for your body for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, when you’re on a regimented meal plan your body is going to get cravings.  It’s easy to succumb to those cravings if you don’t have a way to fight them off.  Knowing that in a couple of days you’ll be able to eat all the cheesecake your heart desires is a great way to put a light at the end of the tunnel of strict eating.  Also, when your diet is that restrictive you frequently get cravings for things that contain the nutrients your body is deficient in and needs.  That’s not to say that all cravings are for things your body needs.  (Lord knows I don’t need M&M’s right now.)  But a good example is when you restrict carbs out of your body, which I do frequently for photoshoots.  Your brain is the only organ in your body that runs solely on carbohydrates, and once you get less than 130 grams of carbs a day your brain in essence shuts down.  Having a day once a week to give your brain the nourishment that it needs is critical to your health, so a cheat meal is a great way to accomplish that while still dieting down to get cut up and ripped.

The second way that cheat meals are good for your body is to “shock” it.  You hit the nail on the head when you referenced how changing up your workout routine can help you see more results.  The same rings true to the things that you put into your body.  If you have different combinations of nutrients in your muscles, you’re going to see different results because the chemical composition will be altered.

Everyone’s body is different, so I couldn’t say how frequently a cheat meal is in order for you- anywhere from four days to a week to two weeks- but toy around with it and see how your body reacts.  There are general rules to follow, but everyone’s body reacts slightly different to some things.  So try a couple of different things out and see what works best for you!

– The Squad

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