Tracking your carbohydrate intake is the key to getting well-defined abs. Carbs (sugars), being the body's fuel source for short-term energy, need to be carefully monitored. Why? Because excessive consumption of carbs gets converted to glycogen and fat for storage in muscles/liver and fat cells, respectively. Being that your body can only store a limited amount of glycogen (up to 100g), this means the remaining is stored as fat in your adipose tissue. This is why it's important to monitor your carb consumption relative to your energy needs (i.e., your exercise level).
The recommended manner in which to lean out and develop "6-pack" abs is to steadily reduce your carb intake to allow your body to resort to fat as its primary energy source. You should decrease your carb intake to an amount in which gluconeogenesis occurs. This occurs when your glycogen (stored carbs in your muscles and liver) has been depleted and your body is forced to resort to fat (glycerol) and some protein (amino acids) for its energy needs. The conversion of glycerol and amino acids to glucose for energy occurs within your liver.
Here's a recommended process for reducing your carb intake over an 12-week period:
- Weeks 1-2: cut your current daily carb intake in half (i.e., if you're eating 500g, cut it down to 250g)
- Weeks 3-4: cut the daily intake in half again (i.e., 250g gets cut down to 125g)
- Weeks 5-6: cut the daily intake in half again (i.e., 125g gets cut down to 75g)
- Weeks 7-8: cut the daily intake in half once again (i.e., 75g gets cut down to about 35g)
- Weeks 9-12: maintain the daily low-carb intake
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."