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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I lose abdominal fat and build a good exercise and eating program?

    I'm male, 32 / 5.7 and 77Kg. In the past 2-3 years I feel like I've accumulated fat, particularly in the abdominal area. In the last three years have been tough as my time got caught up in school and work. Now that I have graduated I seem to have more time and thinking to start exercising at a local gym.

    I'm totally new to work out activities and gyms so even though I would expect a coach to guide me at the gym, I welcome your advice for a good start.
    I'd like to loose the % of fat, then aiming my efforts to building a healthy body with some tendency to build muscles. I would like to focus on the abs area but need to get rid of that extra layer of fat before.

    On my own I haven't been much successful and I haven't even built a food routine that would help the process. Should I take protein shakes? What kind and how many times a day?

    Now that I've taken a decision to make a difference I would truly appreciate your insights and instructions.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Kevin Shapiro

    Physiotherapist

    17 years experience in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom in private practice. I specialize in the treatment of back and neck pain as … View Profile

    *Core Pilates Program using a Foam roller from a Physiotherapist
    *Good Low Carb (high protein diet)
    * Decrease calorie(kilojoule)  intake( smaller portions)
    *Eat more frequently, smaller meals

  • 1

    Thanks

    Laura Jean

    Dietitian

    Laura is an accredited practising dietitian who is passionate about helping people develop a healthy relationship with food. Laura currently runs an online program, Eat … View Profile

    You're right in identifying that you need to lose body fat before focussing on any muscle building. Losing body fat requires an energy deficit,(best achieved through extra energy out) and gaining body muscle requires extra energy plus an appropriate trianing routine. I can't help with the training/exercise side of things but a few tips for the food and to answer your question about protein shakes.
    At this inital phase of aiming for weight loss:
    - don't worry about the shakes, you don't want to be adding extra protein or kilojoules into your body you want to be encouraging your body to use up energy stores (ie fat)
    - Look at total food and kilojoule intake and start by reducing any ‘extra’. This can come from eating when you aren't physically hungry (a little is normal but a lot can add up) and also eating more than you need at any one time. Aim to stop eating when you are 80% full = your satisfaction point.
    - make sure you aren't restricting energy intake, you want to give your body enough energy to do its day to day business and burn body fat via exercise.

    Once you've lost the body fat and move into the muscle building/toning phase:
    - Ensure you have adequate energy from food across the whole day to do your day to day business plus fuel your exercise. At this stage you aren't trying to lose any mass so you need to be eating enough so that your exercise isn't burning body stores (it will break down muscle if it needs, which is not what you'll be after in this phase)
    - Look at timing of meals and snacks around your exercise sessions, particularly when they are focussed on muscle building. Ensure you have something  to eat or drink with energy in it an hour or two before your session and then the same again within an hour of finishing. The best food options combine both carbohyrdate and protein - carbohydrate to replace energy and protein to repair/build muscle, if you just have protein then it will be used for energy replacement first and only for muscle repair if there is any left over. You can simply use food but this is where a protein shake can be convenient.
    An Accredited Practising Dietitian can help to give you more specific advice for your situation (find an APD on www.daa.asn.au). There are also some great evidence based nutrition fact sheets on the AIS (www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition) and the Sports Dietitians Australia (http://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/) websites.
    Good luck,
    Laura Jean
    Accredited Practising Dietitian

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