DESPITE EXERCISE AND A SENSIBLE DIET, AS WE AGE, THE HARDEST AREA TO TONE DOWN IS THE ABS AREA. HOWEVER AS HEALTH DISCOVERS, NOT ONLY ARE THERE PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO SOLVE THE DILEMMA OF FLABBY ABS BUT WAYS TO KEEP IT OFF.
Gina Graham from Dubai says that while she eats well and strives to exercise a few times a week, her muffin top and flabby abs refuse to budge. She tells, “I hate my abs area. I can’t wear any fitted type of shirt because the area bulges out. I just don’t understand what I am doing wrong; I eat well, drink lots of water and even exercise…” Definitely not alone, Scott Garrett, Sports and Recreation Manager at Body and Soul Health Club explains that everyone in the world has abs and how your abs look however differs from person to person. “Some people have great abs because of their genetics and likewise some not so great because of genetics,” he says, pointing out that the biggest contributor to flabby abs is the amount of fat which covers the abdominal area. According to Garrett, generally those people who work out, keep their body fat percentage down, maximize tissue and keep their cardio vascular system, are in good condition will have good abdominal definition. Flabby abs, he explains, are common because of the percentage of people who do not take part in regular physical activity. “The fat which covers the abdominal area creating flabby abs can be removed/toned with hard work and lots of exercise,” he says.
Generally speaking flabby abs and excess weight is more common for females than it is for males, explains Garrett. “An average woman’s fat represents between 18 percent and 20 percent of body weight, whereas in men it represents only 10 percent to 15 percent,” he says, and the reason for this difference is that women at some point in their lives may nourish a baby from their own reserves, so women have to stock energy in the form of fat in anticipation of future pregnancies. And there is no specific age in which excess weight or flabby abs begins to manifest as each individual is different. However, he adds that from the age of 37 onwards both males and females are said to have a substantially decreased physical activity level which can lead to a greater fat percentage in the body therefore contributing to excess weight around the abdominal area.
Truncal versus Flabby
Truncal obesity, explains Garrett, is a form of obesity where the excess weight that an individual carries is located only on the truncal area; for example, around the persons mid section and abs. “The difference between the two is that truncal obesity is far more serious and dangerous for the individual than flabby abs,” he says. “Obesity can be measured by your BMI (body mass index) and an individual that has a BMI over 30 is classified as being obese.” Being obese is a very serious/dangerous situation to be in due to the amount of linked diseases to obesity. Having said that, Garrett reiterates that having flabby abs can also be very dangerous because the fat that sits on the belly—known as visceral fat–surrounds the abdomen and is the most dangerous fat on the body. Similarly with obesity, this has been linked to a number of health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
According to Garrett, the main reasons for the increase in the number of people becoming fatter or gaining flabby abs is due to factors such as pregnancy, stress, health conditions, not enough exercise, and of course over-eating. “All of these are factors that contribute to gaining weight,” he says however stress is one of the most common factors for getting flabby abs. The body has such great blood supply in the abdominal region; it also has more receptors for the stress hormone known as cortisol. “Cortisol levels go through natural peaks and troughs throughout each day, however when you are constantly under stress they stay at the same high level,” he says and if this level is constantly high, more fat is accumulated in the stomach region due to the number of receptors there.
There are many foods which contribute to flabby abs and knowing what these foods are and trying your best to limit their intake is one of the best ways to combat this problem. To help lose your flabby abs, don’t skip meals or turn to weight loss shakes. Start to focus on a diet that eliminates foods that have a high calorie count such as sugars and fats. An individual should be trying to cut out as much sugar and fat as possible. Replacements for the items high in fats and sugars should be fresh fruit and vegetables along with nuts and seeds. Small changes can help make a enormous difference to your overall appearance and health.
The best advice that you can give to someone to avoid ever having excess weight or flabby abs, suggests Garrett, is a combination of regular exercise and a good diet. “If you can manage three weekly exercise sessions and can have a balanced diet then there is nothing stopping you from having a well defined body and no worries about gaining weight,” he concludes.
How long does it take to see results?
Seeing results when trying to shed excess weight or tone the abdominal area can take a lot longer than you would imagine, suggests Garrett. “Many people feel they should be seeing results straight away however how long it will take to start seeing results really depends on the individual,” he says. “If the person is exercising three to five times a week and is on a healthy diet then you can start to see results within as little as two weeks.” If however you are only exercising one or two times a week and not really changing your diet then he says that it’s going to take a lot longer to see any form of improvement.
The Top five exercises to get rid of those flabby abs
Lying flat on your back with your hands by your ears, elevate your legs to a 90-degree angle. Next, bring your left knee towards your chest and twist your right elbow to meet it. Repeat this on the other side. Also, as you bring one leg in, stretch the other one straight out.
Low plank from elbows
Place your elbows and forearms on the floor beneath your armpits and lift your body off the floor with your legs straight. Hold this position for one to three minutes.
Using one arm, either your forearm or your hand, line it up beneath your armpit and stack your feet on top of one another. Ideally, you want to create a “T” shape with your body.
Begin in a seated position with bended knees and flat feet. Lean back slightly with a strong straight back and get into a comfortable position, contracting your abs muscles. Stretch your arms out in front of you and twist the torso from side to side. For more intensity, tap the floor to the right of your hip and then the left side.
Stand with your feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent, elbows bent 90 degrees by hips. Then lunge forward with right leg and rotate torso and arms to the right. Rotate back to the centre as you quickly push off right foot to return to the start.