You have a beach vacation coming up in just a week and want to sport toned, tight abs in your swimsuit. Unfortunately, sculpting rockstar abs in just seven days is nearly impossible, no matter how much exercise and dieting you do.
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However, you can use the week to kickstart healthier habits and reduce bloating to look slimmer. Just keep in mind that creating a defined midsection takes several weeks — or months — depending on your starting point.
What You Can Do for Your Abs in a Week
While you won't drop notable amounts of fat or build substantial ab definition in a week, you can reduce bloating in your belly so you look thinner. It's unlikely to create dramatic tone, though, unless you've already built lean ab muscles.
Following specific eating strategies will help reduce gas and the subsequent bloat, which will help you look a bit slimmer and feel better and more confident overall. Eat smaller meals more frequently so food digests with greater efficiency. Avoid common gas-producing foods, including onions, broccoli, beans, lactose in dairy and, for some people, wheat.
Avoid drinking straws and carbonated beverages, which cause you to swallow air and further contributes to bloating. Drink plenty of water to ensure you're hydrated; being dehydrated interferes with digestion and can cause you to hold onto water weight.
Read more: How to Slim Down Quickly for Your Big Event
Focus on Fat Loss
Your first step to revealing toned abs is losing the fat covering the muscles. For abs to be visible, a man needs a body fat level of six to nine percent and a woman, 16 to 19 percent.
Since the average man has a body fat percentage of 28 and the average woman 40 percent, losing this much body fat in a week is simply not possible. Even if you're already relatively lean, you can't expect to lose more than about one percent body fat in a month — let alone a week — explains the American Council on Exercise.
To lose fat, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. Aim for a 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit weekly to lose one to two pounds per week. Avoid going on a starvation or crash diet over the week to try. You'll drop muscle along with the fat, which won't help you look toned in the tummy and compromises your metabolism.
Muscle Development Takes Time
It takes several weeks (or more) to develop ab muscle that looks defined when you're lean. If you're brand new to strength training, you may see rapid improvements in strength and muscle appearance in the first four to six weeks, but not one week.
Muscle growth and definition requires dedication to a comprehensive workout routine. Toned abs don't just result from multiple crunches performed over a week, but from a regular commitment to a strength-training plan that addresses every major muscle group at least three times per week for several weeks.
Include some cardio as well to help burn calories and lose excess fat. Incorporate high-intensity intervals, such as a 30-minute workout involving a warm-up, 10 one-minute sprints alternated with one-minute jogs and a cool down.
This form of cardio stimulates skeletal muscle adaptations that help expedite fat burning and improves aerobic fitness, explains a paper published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity.
Read more: How to Tone Up Quickly for Your Big Event