"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Four Flat Abs Books

I'm still waiting for the six-pack abs craze to die. At 6 feet and 150 pounds, I'm at 6% body fat... and I have a little foodbaby Buddha belly. When I was a scary-skinny/crazy-skinny teenager, at 128 pounds and 1.9% body fat, I still had a little pooch. I ain't gonna change that. It's mostly postural; if I didn't slouch 15 hours a day, I'd look better. Here's proof (watch the belly disappear):
From Run. Race. Repeat.
From Blogger Pictures
There's four books that crossed my desk lately, all saying they can get you (and presumably me, though really, c'mon, not me) a flat stomach. I had a couple of hours; I read them.

The worst of the four is "The Doctors" Dr. Travis Stork's "Lean Belly Prescription." This is more a collection of post-it notes than a book, with so many shifts and interruptions that it looks like an ADD support group transcript. Stork has the advantage of being the only one of the four authors to have a medical degree, but he's an ER doc and has never had to battle a weight problem. His book is about living a healthy lifestyle - the title is a complete misnomer - and is in the "100 little changes add up to a lot" approach. There's nothing wrong with the advice given, it just doesn't say anything you didn't know already and isn't focussed on the titular topic.

"Prevention" magazine's Liz Vaccariello wrote "The Flat Belly Diet." It's based entirely upon one unsupported correlational scientific study that showed that people with more mono-unsaturated fats in their diets had leaner stomachs. Avocado, olive oil, tree nuts or chocolate are to be eaten with every meal, she says (though chocolate, sadly, is not really a good source of MUFAs). No real explanation is given as to the reason this should work to decrease one's stomach size.

Jorge Cruise penned "The Belly Fat Cure." He personally lost a ton of weight and says that anyone following his regimen will get similar results. To him, all sugar is evil, regardless of type or source. Cheese is better for you than milk. Fruit is to be eaten only in tiny quantities. His recommendations are no more than 15 grams of sugar per day and 6 servings of carbohydrates (which, digging a little, turns out to be 120 grams, including fiber). This is between an Atkins no-carb diet and a Zone-type diet, as it works out to 25% calories from carbohydrates on a 2000 calorie diet. This plan has one thing (and only one thing) going for it: extremely low carbohydrate diets cause the body to lose water which gets stored with carbs and makes musculature look more defined; it's the diet that bodybuilders follow for a few weeks before a big contest to get "ripped." Following this diet might make your abs more prominent if you're down to 2% body fat.

Last up is "Men's Health" magazine's David Zinczenko and "The Abs Diet." I have to admit that I wanted to hate this book, as I think the author is annoying. It's actually not bad! It combines many different ideas, from the importance of calcium (shown in some studies to be involved in weight loss) to eating protein - in particular, eggs - for breakfast. The diet suggested is balanced and non-restrictive; in fact, the major criticism most have for it is that there's no calorie restriction for weight loss. He recommends 6 meals per day, which is difficult to schedule, and he includes recipes (which seem okay, if maybe off on the calorie counts). He does have a fondness for 12 "power foods," which aren't problematic, except for the whey supplements, which is merely added protein I'd prefer one get from more natural sources. He includes a long section of core exercises of varying difficulty. When I finished reading it and found little to fault, I saw that it happened to be almost exactly what I happen to do myself. So, like most people, I like people who agree with me.


Carilyn said...

I have the dang Buddah
belly too! And it doesn't matter how thin I am, it remains. I had a doc tell me that it was from getting so dang huge when I was pregnant with my twins, and that only a tummy tuck would fix it - and that ain't gonna happen. So, alas, I continue to eat cupcakes and wear loose shirts, and ignore people who tell me "You not veddy skinny for someone who run so much!" :)

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I HATE people who imply I hate people who don't agree with me! I disagree with that and therefore hate you. YOU are a source of MUFA because you're the biggest MUFA of all and I sure hope MUFA means what I think it does because if it doesn't, boy, is there ever a common (yet disputed) source of heart-threatening cholesterol all over my face!

But if it does mean what I think ...


Diana said...

I would want to hate any book that implied even the promise of flat abs. In fact, I don't think I would even pick up such a book. Good for you for being a trooper and letting the world know that some of them may actually dispense sound nutritional advice.
When I was rowing crew in I college, I worked out twice a day, six days a week. I looked amazing, and I still never had a flat stomach. If it didn't happen for me then, it's never going to happen. I've accepted it and moved on.

joyRuN said...

6 foot, 150lbs, extreme bradycardia & hypotension.

Are you sure you're alive?

I've fallen off my DASH, & trying desperately to clamber back on. 4 servings of fruit a day isn't the problem, it's those daggone veggies - it seriously tires my jaw to chew through that much greenery.

PiccolaPineCone said...

I am writing to comment on a post that was posted 7 posts ago. I am also trying to see how many derivations on the word post I can correctly use in one sentence. Post. Anywhooo my comment is about the post in which you said Afton will be your last race. Why not take a more moderate stance? When I wrote my race report about my 5 km on the track (which blogger ate and never regurgitated) you left me a comment to the effect that 5 km track races used to be among your favorite. If running volume is problematic why not re-kindle your relationship with 5 km and under. Or 10 km and under. The beauty of training and racing for 3 km, 5 km & 10 km is that you can get away with so much less volume. You might still have some good races in you at the shorter distances. Heck you probably have some good races left in you at the longer distances but committing to the shorter ones is so much easier on many levels.
If you are offering flat abs though, I would like some please :)

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Carl "No Relation" Gardner's dead, huh? Well ... he had a good run.

I see where your Twins no longer have the worst record in the majors ... baby steps, baby steps. I still marvel at how fall they (division winners) and the Padres (division winner-adjacent) fell in just one year.

I myself am trying to stay away from any sites that might tell me the score of the Phils game this afternoon, which I'm DVRing; then they have a night game at 7:00, too.

Of course, Ian has a playoff game at 8, which means I won't even start the second Phils game till like 10 p.m.

Another long night.

Then a long afternoon tomorrow in Trenton, telling douchebag Teabilly Chris "I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing" Christie to stop fucking with our jobs.

joyRuN said...

Alright, I fixed it. Whatever the terminology is, it's a sucky feeling, & I am pretty incoherent at that point unless you can decipher the incessant cursing.