Are you currently around 12-15% body fat (male) and 20-22% body fat (female) and having difficulty shifting that stubborn layer of fat?
Well, if you've got down to this level already then well done, you no doubt look slender and toned, but despite this those elusive abdominals may still be hidden from view! No doubt then you've performed countless ab curls, roman chair leg raises, window wipers, side crunches or cable crunches, and despite all this you still can’t see the hard earned muscle that lurks below.
Avoid Fat Burning Plateaus
If you are striving to see those abs and thus the fruits of your labour then consider 3 things, a calorie controlled high protein diet, regular structured exercise, and a strategic dietary plan that controls the release of that all important hormone Insulin, promotes the release of Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) as well as boosting cAMP…all will be explained!
Insulin is one of the most effective hormones at limiting the release of HSL, which ultimately slows down the fat burning process resulting in those all too familiar ‘fat burning plateaus’. One way insulin levels increase is via the ingestion of amino acids in the shape of a whey protein or an amino acid blend, mercifully the relatively low calorie, high amino acid ratio makes this a favourable dietary measure not least for its muscle building properties, meaning the benefits of protein ingestion largely outweigh the negatives. However in order to reduce plateaus in fat burning, you must ultimately try to maximise cyclic Adenosine Mono- phosphate (cAMP), because when cAMP is high… so too is fat burning (McDonald, 2003).
Keep Insulin Under Control
Yes, insulin is an anabolic hormone and is key to muscle growth, but the key to a harmonious internal and external environment is to keep its levels under control, or maintain homeostasis. To keep insulin levels constant you should remember to consume a form of starchy carbohydrate over the course of the day. For best results, opt for wholegrain starches because of their slower rate of digestion which keeps insulin levels constant. However the lower you can keep your starchy intake the better it might be in terms of burning fat, so if you find your energy levels are low, opt for a rice cake or ryvita in between main meals. The less total carbs you consume the lower your insulin levels will be, meaning your fat stores will burn at a much faster rate.
NOTE: A consistently low carb diet is not sustainable and not conducive to health and longevity. If you intend on keeping carb levels low, do so under the guidance of a registered Dietitian or other nutrition expert. If you have an underlying medical condition such as Diabetes, do not restrict your starchy carb intake for risk of hypoglycaemia or compensatory spikes.
cAMP : The Fat Burning Messenger
The nucleotide cAMP can boost the fat burning process via a number of mechanisms. Firstly cAMP is anabolic meaning it promotes muscle growth, muscle is metabolically active so consequently more energy is burned via the acquisition of muscle. Secondly, cAMP encourages the fat metabolising process lipolysis aka fat burning, which liberates fat stores, enabling the body to use it for energy resulting in the net loss of total body fat! Thirdly, cAMP levels increase due to stress or physical activity, this occurs as a result of elevated levels of adrenaline and glucagon (hormone that liberates glycogen stores/stored glucose) meaning fat stores are broken down due to increased activity as well as raised cAMP to liberate energy…and thus promote fat loss (Hofmekler, 2008).
Hofmekler, O, (2008). Maximum Muscle, Minimum Fat: The Secret Science Behind Physical Transformation. cAMP. California: North Atlantic Books.
McDonald, L, (2003). The Ultimate Diet 2.0, 1st Ed. Retrieved 8th May, 2013, from www.bodyrecomposition.com