Are Abs Really Made In The Kitchen?

by Bailey Green Dietitian Candidate on January 27, 2016

Are Abs Really Made in the Kitchen?

We see it on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on motivational Instagram posts: “Abs are Made in the Kitchen.” Sure, it’s become a mantra for athletes and fitness buffs over the last few years, but what does it really mean?

When it comes to defining abs, some believe that it can only be done by intense exercise alone, while others believe that it can only be accomplished by eating a strict diet. The truth? It’s somewhere in-between. Peak fitness, in general, is best achieved by combining a healthy diet with physical activity.

If getting abs is your goal, then good news! You already have a start on them! We all have abdominal muscles. Unfortunately, they are not necessarily visible until we lower our body fat percentage. While abdominal muscles become visible at different body fat percentages for different people, we can make a fairly decent estimate for the average person. For men, abs tend to become visible at around 10-12% body fat. For women, they may become visible at around 15-17% body fat.

So how do we lower our body fat percentage? This is a challenge, because decreasing your body fat is NOT always the same as losing weight! Contrary to what you may be thinking, a low fat diet won’t always help you lose body fat. Adopting a healthy diet that includes carbohydrate, protein, and fat, while simultaneously moderately reducing calorie intake is the best first step. Some easy ways to jump-start a healthy diet include eliminating sugary drinks, learning to read food labels, and learning what a serving size is (Canada’s Food Guide is a good help for this!).

In order to get those abs, you’ll have to do some physical work too. Incorporate some high-intensity cardio and some strength training into your fitness routine.  Also, try focusing on major muscle groups (think arms, back, and legs) instead of subjecting yourself to hundreds of crunches. This will all play a role in helping to strengthen your core and make those abdominal muscles stronger and more defined.

The final verdict?  You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and you can’t expect great outcomes with diet alone. It sure isn’t easy, but if abs and muscle definition is your goal, then a lifestyle change is in order. Abs are built both in the kitchen and in the gym, and it’ll take effort in both areas to get the results you’re looking for!

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