Hello, ladies. Look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using ladies scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me.” – Old Spice guy
We’ve all seen this commercial; it’s a classic, possibly the best Old Spice commercial ever aired. Isaiah Mustafa succeeded in making most of us less yoked dudes feel both odorous and weak. The guy was toned, likely smelled great, and had a voice that could calm a storm. Young Markus wanted to be this guy.
At around the same time, I watched the movie 300, where an incredibly jacked Leonidas and 299 mostly naked dudes diced up Persian men in brutal fashion. Their spear-work was morbidly, gruesomely impressive. It was like watching human kabobs in the making. After watching the film, I was overtaken by this incredible desire to sprout washboard abs. I’d seen a semblance of abdominal development in the past, but nothing very impressive. I had never wanted to do sit-ups so adamantly in my whole life. Imagine what the “this is Sparta!” scene would have looked like if Leonidas did not have 2% body fat and abs from his clavicle to his knees. Can you imagine that? Of course not.
Surely, I was not the only one in this boat. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like Leonidas? At least one time or another, most of you have considered getting your swole on and shedding that excess poundage. So, where do you start? Let’s address a few, simple points.
Eat protein. Really, eat it.
It sounds cliché and borderline bro science, but it’s true. You really do need protein, and lots of it, if you want to build an enviable physique (which, by the way, is everyone’s goal; we all train to look good nekked). Protein is not only essential to muscle building, but it is also extremely beneficial in increasing your metabolism, and by extension, burning fat. Approximately 20-30% of the calories consumed from protein are used to digest it, higher than any other macronutrient (protein, fats, and the dreaded carbohydrates – more on this later). For example, say you eat a 30-gram chicken breast with your salad (aka, rabbit food) for lunch. Of the 120 calories in this piece of meat, approximately 35-40 calories will be used merely digesting that hunk of muscle food. Compare that to fats and carbohydrates, where only 0-3% and 5-10%, respectively, of the calories are used to digest these two macronutrients. That’s bush league, if you ask me. Reserve 30-40% of your caloric intake for protein alone. Seriously, it’s that important.
Unfortunately, fats get no love, and that’s a darn shame. Don’t get it twisted, friends, the occasional few strips of bacon can actually do your body good. Yes, fats derived from extra virgin olive oil or avocado are certainly preferable from a health perspective, but the occasional bacon strip won’t kill you. In fact, by greatly reducing, or even eliminating, your lipid intake, you risk lowering your natural production of hormones to dangerously low levels. Obviously, this is counterproductive. Keep your fat intake to approximately 15-20% of your calories per day.
Lastly, carbohydrates. Carbs have become the Donald Trump of macronutrients, attracting excessive scrutiny and criticism in recent years. People love to hate carbs. Some diets, such as the Atkins and ketogenic diets, call for very high protein and fat intake, and extremely low (or zero) carbohydrate consumption. While this fat loss method is acceptable for a several day stretch only, I absolutely do not recommend pursuing this course of action for an extended period of time. I speak from personal experience on this one, folks. Not only did my energy levels suffer greatly, but I quickly became one crabby dude. And the cravings. Oh, the cravings. You’ve never seen cravings of this magnitude, I assure you. I recall when, following a cheat meal, I added 7 pounds to my weight in one day. One day! Of course, some of this rapid influx in poundage was due to water retention, but the point remains. I ate anything and everything in sight that was even remotely carbohydrate-related.
Additionally, because of the significant lack of glycogen storage in my muscles, I became quite lethargic and was therefore unable to train frequently, if ever. Consequently, I experienced mild to moderate muscle atrophy. Obviously, the goal of every bro is to acquire gains on gains, or to use the proper medical term, muscle hypertrophy. The final product of this prolonged, non-carbohydrate diet was that I morphed into a scrawnier, weaker version of a formerly dope Markus. Moral of the story: eat your complex carbohydrates throughout the day, and reserve your simple carbohydrates (sugars, white breads, potatoes, etc.) for after your workout when your body requires easily digestible nutrients for replenishment and growth. Dedicate the remaining 40% of your daily caloric intake to good, clean carbohydrates. And remember, when you take a cheat meal, always go full out.
The last trick of the trade is consistency. It will take work, it will take dedication, it will take perseverance. But it is worth it. “Eventually” was so last year.
Now go get those Leonidas abdominals and toss your washing machine in the trash. You’ll be washing your clothes on your newfound washboard abs in no time.