This is a myth that just will never die as long as the media continues to perpetuate the false hope that simply performing ab crunches will magically flatten your stomach. The confusion may lie in the belief that contracting the abdominal musculature will somehow burn subcutaneous bodyfat (the fat found just under your skin). Unfortunately the body does not work that way. If nothing else, remember this: muscles lie under a subcutaneous fat layer. You can perform ab crunches until the cows come home but you won't be able to display a ripped midsection until that fat layer is reduced. The good news is that performing abdominal crunches (or any ab exercise) is not a waste of time because the ab muscles will continue to get stronger and will become more defined provided the ab fat diminishes.
How can you burn away the abdominal bodyfat? Not surprising news here but I'll enumerate the key points below:
Vegetables and whole grains tend to be relatively high in fiber which improves insulin sensitivity. This means the body will more efficiently use glucose for energy rather than for bodyfat storage. Fibrous foods also reduce appetite so you'll likely eat less foods overall. Examples of fibrous vegetables include broccoli (no surprise here), carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, soybeans, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Examples of whole grain foods include brown rice, buckwheat, popcorn, shredded wheat, whole rye bread, whole grain bread, whole grain cereal, and wild rice.
BOTTOM LINE: To get a flat belly, you've got to be more active by performing cardio regularly (along with weight training) and eating good lean foods that are high in fiber such as vegetables and whole grains. Eating right and exercising regularly are the keys to flattening your belly, not performing endless abdominal crunches (!)
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
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I'm a personal trainer who loves to help others fulfill their health and fitness goals. I consider myself a bodybuilder in that I live the lifestyle of eating healthy food, working out regularly, and sculpting my body.