A Book Review By Mens Health Magazine Columnist, Christian Finn
The Abs Diet promises to improve your health, your looks, and your athletic performance... even your sex appeal.
"If you follow this plan," writes author David Zinczenko, "you will transform your body so that you can accomplish each and every one of those goals. As a bonus, The Abs Diet will do something more than just enhance your life—The Abs Diet is going to save it."
Does it work? Let's take a closer look at what the Abs Diet has to offer.
The Abs Diet encourages you to focus on 12 different foods, called The Abs Diet Power 12. The idea is that you include two or three of these foods in each of your three major meals and at least one of them in each of your three snacks.
Almonds and Other Nuts
Beans and Legumes
Spinach and Other Green Vegetables
Dairy (Fat-Free or Low-Fat Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, and Cottage Cheese)
Instant Oatmeal (Unsweetened, unflavored)
Turkey and Other Lean Meats (Lean Steak, Chicken, Fish)
Peanut Butter (All-Natural, Sugar-Free)
Whole-Grain Breads and Cereals
Extra-Protein (Whey) Powder
Raspberries and Other Berries
So, what's right about the book?
Well, it's relatively simple to follow. You don't need to measure, calculate or count anything. And because it's not low carb or low fat, the menu plans are not overly restrictive. Unlike many diet books, you also get a reasonably effective exercise program that includes both cardiovascular and resistance training.
I used a similar approach to get in shape for a recent photo shoot. You can see some of the pictures on my website. My program is described in detail in my article, "Lift weights and lose fat: How to drop pounds by picking them up, Part II" located in the Facts About Fitness Members-Only Area.
Unfortunately, the introduction to the book is titled The Plan That Will Turn Your Fat into Muscle. This, of course, is complete nonsense. You can't turn fat into muscle, or muscle into fat. But you can lose fat and replace some of it with muscle.
Unless they're very overfat, or just starting an exercise program, very few people gain a lot of muscle and lose a lot of fat at the same time. Your body just isn't that great at doing both things at once. That's why I recommend you focus on one of two goals when you're trying to get in shape—building muscle while minimizing fat gain, or, losing fat while preserving muscle.
There are also the usual claims about interval training being "nine times more effective for fat loss" than conventional forms of aerobic exercise and "each pound of muscle burning an additional 50 calories" a day.
Regular readers will know that neither of these statements is true (see the articles on my site titled, "What they told you about muscle and metabolism is wrong," and "Interval training works, but not this well").
The book doesn't recommend counting calories either. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on your point of view. The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you eat. While some people will naturally consume fewer calories when they eat foods higher in protein and fiber, this isn't the case for everyone.
If you're like me, for example, and lack the discipline and self-restraint to simply "eat until you feel full" (as opposed to "until you feel totally stuffed"), chances are you'll need to impose some kind of pre-defined limit on the size of each meal before you sit down to eat it.
Although it's a royal pain in the butt, it's my experience that you'll need to keep some kind of written or electronic record of what you're eating if you want to reach the low bodyfat levels necessary to show off your six-pack.
One alternative is to follow the advice of Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle author Tom Venuto and create a menu using an Excel spreadsheet or your favorite nutrition software. Once you have your daily menu, print it, stick it on your refrigerator and you now have an eating "goal" for the day.
"If you get bored eating the same thing every day," says Tom, "you can create multiple menus, or just exchange foods using your one menu as a template. Using this method, you really only need to count calories once when you create your menus."
If you already own a copy of Body-for-LIFE, Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle or the South Beach Diet, much of this information is probably familiar to you. If not, the Abs Diet is a simple, no-nonsense plan that provides a good basic guide to exercise and nutrition.
1. Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J.A., & Bouchard, C. (1994). Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism, 43, 814-818
2. Wang, Z., Heshka, S., Zhang, K., Boozer, C.N., & Heymsfield, S.B. (2001). Resting energy expenditure: systematic organization and critique of prediction methods. Obesity Research, 9, 331-336
Do you need help burning the fat from your belly or packing muscle on your chest, shoulders and arms? Christian Finn's Facts About Fitness Website contains everything you need to know. It will teach you the best ways to get the lean, strong, healthy body you deserve. Mentor Members also enjoy a clear, honest and easy-to-follow response to all their fat-burning and muscle-building questions within 48 hours
For all the details, visit: www.TheFactsAboutFitness.Com