Are Abs Really Made In The Kitchen?
If you cook, meditate, eat, sleep and workout in your kitchen then the answer to this question is yes! However, that is highly unlikely, as with many things in life, your body composition goals can be achieved by finding balance between your daily activities. Will having abs make you a better person? Probably not. My next question to you would be… What are your training goals? Understanding this aspect of your overall health and wellness outlook helps lay a clearer path ahead, which also helps set realistic and manageable expectations.
What does ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ even mean? It's a phrase that came about to help paint the picture that you can’t get a flat tummy with just training alone. It requires a combination of healthy eating habits, good recovery (including sleep), mindfulness and exercise. When it comes to losing weight, toning up or whatever you want to call it, the most powerful way to do that kind of transformation is through small consistent actions over time.
Training and protein
If we look at the relationship between training and your diet it begs the question… Are supplements necessary? Are they the secret ingredient? The answer to that is yes and no. In a perfect world I would encourage you to just eat real food. However, that’s not always possible, with work, family life and other commitments constantly squeezing us for time, supplements can help jog the journey along. It’s no secret that the human body is calling out for protein after a workout, generally speaking for a few reasons. Including, refilling your energy stores, increasing muscle mass and repairing any damage caused by working out.
It’s important to note that your post workout nutrition doesn’t have to be via supplements, there’s roughly an optimal 2 hour window for you to get your post workout nutrition into your system. This means you do have time to finish your workout, have a shower, drive home and prepare something for yourself to eat. The general consensus however is, the earlier the better. So if having a protein shake straight after your workout is possible, within your training goals and in your budget then go for it.
So why is post workout nutrition important? After you’ve worked out your muscles are ready and waiting to take in nutrients that can trigger muscle repair, growth and strength. Simple really, give your body all the materials it needs (adequate nutrition) after a workout and you’ll help avoid depleting glycogen storage and decreasing the body's ability for protein synthesis. Which is important because after you workout there’s more breaking down going on than there is building. By providing the correct nutrients after exercise e.g. a post workout shake with protein and some carbohydrates, you help the body trigger protein synthesis, which in turn subdues protein breakdown. To summarise - post workout nutrition is all about helping create a positive protein balance and a desirable metabolic environment.
Don’t forget the carbs
Protein is important but don’t forget about your carbohydrate intake after a workout as well. Why? Providing glucose alongside your protein (amino acids) intake when there is increased blood flow after a workout means there’s more nutrients available and you’ll utilise insulin for transporting those nutrients into your cells.
As I mentioned earlier eating a meal after your training works well but isn’t always practical. You might be at the gym during your lunch break, don’t have a fridge nearby and to be frank it takes time to break down a meal. An easily digestible shake with the right nutrients gets everything into your system quickly. As a rough guide;
- After a tough workout drink something like Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey with water. Also, try to eat your next meal within 2 hours.
- If your main goal is to lose weight use something like Xtend BCAA’s during your workout.
Do you need smoothie bowls and protein balls? Only if it helps you time wise after your workout. Otherwise you’re just consuming extra calories in your day that you might not be allocating space for. Don’t get me wrong… I bloody love a good smoothie bowl. Just keep your end goal in mind.
As you can see, if you have your diet under control, your training is well balanced and you’ve got good sleep practices in place, your body composition goals will be easier to achieve. Which brings me back to the original question. Are abs really made in the kitchen? Yes and no. Overall, when it comes to your relationship with food I have a pretty simple way of looking at things. If you have a good breakfast you’ll have a good day. This tends to be because if you start the day right you’ll follow it up with the other healthy practices required to reach your body composition goals. So in that sense… Abs are kind of made in the kitchen. Keep in mind, your happiness in life isn’t attached to having abs, a number on a set of scales or your body fat percentage. It’s a bit deeper than that, which is a whole different blog post entirely!
Interested in some of the research behind the topic discussed today, see some interesting PubMed articles here.