You Are What You Eat | Fact Or Fiction?

Written by Callum Melly

Gaining A Six Pack: Fact Or Fiction?

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! There… I said it. No matter how hard you train, how many hours you spend exercising, how many crunches you do, you can’t out-train a bad diet.


Everyone has a six-pack, but more often than not it’s hidden under a layer of abdominal belly fat and in order to reveal it, we simply need to exercise and eat in a way that will promote fat loss and encourage lean muscle growth.


The fact is, if you have more calories going into your body than going out, you will gain weight. If you have fewer calories going into your body than going out, you will lose weight; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will reduce your body-fat.


You see, if you aren’t exercising and eating in a way that will promote fat loss and maintaining/increasing lean muscle mass, the weight you could be losing could be because you are burning muscle as energy and not stored body fat.


Remember, muscle is denser than fat and therefore, weight loss does not necessarily correlate to fat reduction.


The more lean muscle we have, the more efficient our bodies are at naturally burning energy, often in the form of stored body fat, as well as giving that shaped, toned and lean look. Therefore, we have to ensure we are eating the right amount of certain macronutrients at the right time around your training to maximise fuelling performance and recovery.


The following tips will help you on your journey to getting a six-pack.

Abs Are Made In The Kitchen


As I stated above, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT and if you really want to get a six-pack (which just to highlight is a possibility for anyone) you simply need to adhere to your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and follow a healthy balanced diet. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring, you can eat tasty nutritious food with the odd treat thrown in and still promote fat loss and lean muscle growth.


I always recommend meal prepping the night before so you always have healthy meals readily available. Most people tend to turn to junk food or a naughty snack when they are hungry, so by prepping your meals in advance, you can avoid hunger driven cravings.


Again, everything in balance and moderation. Providing you are eating clean 80% of the time over a period of a week, the odd treat won’t kill you, in fact, after 7-10 days of clean eating, I like to have a “re-feed meal” often referred to as a “cheat meal” to shock the system and kick-start my metabolism. The key is to listen to your body because, after a period of clean eating and intense exercise, your body will tell you when you need a “refeed meal”. Personally, I like to treat myself to a burger and milkshake.


You also need to be conscious about your protein, fat and carbohydrate intake to support your health and fitness goals. We want to both fuel and nourish our body so it is essential we get the balance right; I like to refer to TTT (type, total and timing) as it is so important your eating the right amount of certain foods at certain times.


You Are What You Eat 


Let’s get real, you aren’t going to change a lifetime of bad habits overnight, but you can in 6-8 weeks; in fact, that is a realistic amount of time to see visible changes to your body, as a result of persistent external stimulus in the form of exercise and following a healthy balanced diet. I always get my clients to record their morning weight and take pictures in the same place and time each week to monitor their progress. You have to manage your personal expectations, hold yourself accountable for your actions or lack of them and be realistic with your goals.


For example, a safe amount of weight to lose a week is 1-2lbs; however, you may lose more depending on how much bodyfat you’re currently holding as well as your overall consistency with training and healthy eating. The key is persistence, showing up every day and getting your workout in, combined with following your healthy balanced diet will lead to success.

Supplement Success


One of the most common questions I get is asked is what protein and supplements do I take, but I think the more important question is…which company do I use and why?


Why Do I Use Myprotein?


Ideally we want to get all our dietary requirements from whole foods; however, often it isn’t possible for a variety of reasons, for example: during our Autumn and Winter months in the UK we lose a lot of natural sunlight which can significantly reduce our vitamin D levels, vitamin D is essential for bone health and our general health and wellbeing, therefore supplementing with vitamin D can be beneficial.


There are an array of supplements I would recommend taking in order to support fuel your workouts, recovery, fat loss and lean muscle maintenance/growth; by no means am I going to fuel my workouts and recovery with junk, neither am I going to promote junk to my clients.


This is why I have personally used Myprotein for several years now and the results I have achieved from using their products speak for themselves! I use Myprotein for the following reasons:


? Quality ingredients
? Naturals range
? AA grade for food safety
No added fillers
? Scientifically researched and innovative products
Delicious natural taste
? Most competitive pricing online
? Huge variety of supplements & wholefoods


My Top 5 Supplements

Impact Whey Isolate


Why should you take this?


I use “Impact Whey Isolate” because it is an extremely fast absorbing whey protein that is perfect for post-workout nutrition; in fact, whey protein features the highest biological value of any protein, meaning it is digested and absorbed more efficiently than other proteins.


It can take up to 6-8 hours for solid food to pass through your stomach and small intestine in the digestion process, whilst “Impact Whey Isolate” can take as little as 60-90 minutes, which is why it’s the perfect protein source for rapid muscle recovery.


Each serving boasts a whopping 23g of protein and less than 0.5g of fat and carbohydrates.

Alpha Men / Active Woman Multivitamin


Why should you take this?


Physical exercise can compromise the function and health of the immune system and leave an individual more susceptible to injury or illness. Therefore, it is vital that anyone who regularly partakes in physical exercise should keep their immune system running at peak levels in order to avoid becoming run down and prematurely fatigued.


Supplementing your diet with a quality multivitamin such as “Alpha Men” and “Active Woman” is an extremely effective way of ensuring you get your RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamins and minerals, in order to support your general health and well-being, aid immune support and all round performance.

Omega 3


Why should you take this?


If you’re like me, it’s likely you don’t eat enough oily fish to get your RDA of omega 3 fatty acids; the human body cannot make omega 3 fats, so they must be consumed through the diet which is why nutritionists recommend taking an omega 3 supplement.


There are many health benefits associated with omega 3 supplements, with evidence that omega 3’s EPA and DHA can improve both heart health and cognitive health and lower triglyceride levels and aid fat loss.


BCAA Powder


Why should you take this?


BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) are made up of the 3 critical amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) which are the building blocks of protein. BCAA’s promote protein synthesis which will aid lean muscle growth as well as fat loss due to it being a calorie required process.


BCAA’s also act as a direct energy source for muscles and can help to prevent muscle breakdown. Valine can also decrease fatigue, improve endurance and essentially improve your performance. BCAA’s can support fat loss as leucine gets into the brain and signals the brain that you have had enough to eat, making you feel fuller and reducing caloric intake. The best times to take BCAA’s are pre and intra workout, this instant formula can be added to your water and is perfect for sipping on during your workout.

Liquid L-Carnitine


Why should you take this?


“Liquid L-Carnitine” is rapidly absorbed by the body and helps to transfer long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides into the mitochondria (the cells energy plant), where they may be oxidised to produce energy. L-Carnitine has also been shown to reduce fatigue and serve as an appetite suppressant.


Therefore, L-Carnitine would be a major asset to have in your arsenal when you are dieting. It not only will help keep your body from storing fat, but it will increase your aerobic capacity to help you burn more calories. L-Carnitine can also increase your strength which will naturally lead to an increase in lean muscle mass, which also makes you more efficient at naturally burning stored body fat.



Why should you take this?


ZMA can improve sleep quality and help to induce natural deep sleep. During sleep, our bodies naturally secrete high dosages of human growth hormone to similar levels of that during intense exercise, which will encourage lean muscle growth and ultimately help you get that shaped, toned and lean body you have been training so hard towards, as well as a quality night’s sleep.


Remember… We don’t grow in the gym; we create the demand to grow in the gym and then have to supply that demand with the right nutrition and rest to maximise repair and recovery.

how to gain weight 1



Why should you take this?


As the name suggests, “Thermopure” is a natural thermogenic that provides a natural energy boost, will increase your metabolic rate and increase your body temperature which can help to stimulate fat molecule movement so fat can be used as energy.

Instant Oats


Why should you take this?


Instant oats are a starchy carbohydrate and perfect for restoring vital muscle glycogen after an intense workout. Liquid nutrition is a great way to rapidly supply your muscles with quality carbohydrates post-workout in order to promote lean muscle growth, repair and recovery, so adding these oats to a protein shake is highly recommended.

Walk Your Way To A Six-Pack


Cardio is a great way to burn off extra body fat & I recommend that all my clients do 30-60 minutes of LISS cardio (low-intensity steady state) 3-5 times per week! LISS cardio can be done anywhere by anyone & provide you are working at 60-70% above your resting heart rate, you will primarily be tapping into stored body fat as an energy source!


If you are physically able to perform at a higher intensity, I would also integrate HIIT training into your cardio regime, 2-3 sessions per week but you MUST take a 48 hour rest interval in-between each HIIT session in order to fully recover from EPOC (energy post-exercise oxygen consumption) and maximise recovery as well as promoting fat loss!

cable crunches

Myth 1 – Carbs Make You Fat!


I hear this a lot… “I’m not eating carbs because they make me fat”. This is possibly the most ridiculous myths of all. That being said, there is some truth behind this as like any macronutrient, if you eat enough to create a calorie surplus, of course, you are going to gain weight in the form of fat. Carbohydrates are the only non-essential macronutrient as the body can convert both proteins and fats into glucose; however, they are important for both brain and muscle function and if you want to get a six-pack your going to have to fuel your workouts and recovery with carbohydrates.


When it comes to carbohydrates the TTT (type, total and timing) is important, try to avoid sugary foods and stick to nutrient dense carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and low gi complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and oats throughout the day. Post-workout we want a higher gi carbohydrate such as dextrose or my personal carbohydrate of choice, maltodextrin; that will promote an insulin spike and aid muscle glycogen replenishment as well as driving proteins into the muscles.


Again, it’s all about the timing of certain carbohydrates so that we can maximise fuelling our workouts and recovery and minimise a surplus to prevent excess glucose being converted and stored as fat. Fruit is rich in fructose and is best eaten first thing in the morning and pre-workout, whereas starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice are best post-workout to replenish muscle glycogen.

Myth 2 – Crunch To A Six-Pack


It doesn’t matter how many crunches you do, you aren’t going to crunch yourself to a six-pack. You may certainly increase lean abdominal muscle mass, but it’s not going to burn away the stubborn abdominal fat that is covering your six-pack.

15 minute abs workout

Myth 3 – Six-Packs Are For Life


Once you have a six-pack that doesn’t mean it’s there for life. As I mentioned before, it’s all about calories in vs calories out, don’t get me wrong, once you have a six-pack it is far easier to maintain it than getting one in the first place, but you know how the saying goes… “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile organisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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