Last updated on March 30th, 2023 at 04:03 pm
Let’s face facts, most of us want a fantastic set of ripped and chiselled abs.
However, wanting abs and actually achieving them seems world’s apart.
In fact, you’ve probably done everything possible to achieve that coveted six-pack.
In fact, you may have gone as far as abstaining from food to the point of starvation.
But, will starving yourself help you get abs?
You definitely should not starve yourself to get abs. Your brain and body typically go into survival mode if you’re not eating enough food. This generally means that anything you eat will be stored as fat in order to be used as a backup source of energy. Additionally, if you’re not eating enough you won’t have the required energy to exercise. This can eventually lead you to being more sedentary and putting on more body fat.
Starving Yourself Will Make You Fat
I’ll come right out and say it – starving yourself will NOT give you abs.
In fact, it is more likely to have completely the opposite effect.
Okay, I’ll admit that anyone who starves themselves will initially lose weight.
However, when it comes to producing a great set of abs it’s not so much weight loss that you need to focus on, but rather fat loss.
Unfortunately, many of us become a slave to the scales in the hope of producing great abs.
Basically, we spend more time worrying about our weight on a weighing machine, as opposed to how our body actually looks in the mirror.
And this is where you’re going wrong.
Okay, if you’re extremely overweight or obese then trying to lose weight is definitely your first port of call.
But, if you’re at the stage where you’re hoping to get abs then weight loss has very little to do with it.
Remember, we all basically have abs, but for some of us they’re hidden under a layer of fat.
So, rather than worrying about how much you weigh, you’d be better off focusing on getting rid of that fat through proper training and nutrition.
If you choose to go the starvation route you’re going to end up severely disappointed.
Firstly, the brain and body typically work in tandem with each other, and this is especially true when it comes to food.
If you’re not eating enough it won’t be long before your brain catches on and then assumes that it needs to go into survival mode.
The brain will then signal to the body that it needs to store any consumed food, and this is usually stored as fat.
Your brain’s aim here is to store enough fat that can be used as a backup store of energy whenever required.
Additionally, your metabolism will typically slow down once the brain and body thinks it’s in starvation mode.
So, in effect, by starving yourself your body will hold onto fat and then your metabolism won’t be performing at optimum levels in order to burn body fat.
Basically, if you starve yourself you may actually end up adding more body fat to your frame.
You Won’t Have Enough Energy to Train
Something else to consider if you’re starving yourself is your energy levels.
Basically, in order to produce a great set of abs, not only do you need to be wary of your diet, but you should also be exercising regularly.
However, if you’re not consuming enough food then it’s likely you won’t have the required energy to workout properly.
And this takes us back once more to feeling lethargic and not really wanting to do anything.
Eventually this will lead to your metabolic rate slowing down, which in turn means that you’ll be burning fewer calories (and body fat) on a daily basis.
Additionally, I would say that you need to focus more on resistance training to produce abs.
Most people tend to opt for cardio and specific ab training, but this isn’t actually the best option.
Now, while cardio (when done correctly) will help you to burn body fat, and ab-specific exercises will help to tone up your midsection, it definitely isn’t the best way.
Realistically, excessive cardio can actually start to burn muscle mass, as well as body fat, which will leave your physique looking less than desirable.
However, resistance and strength training will help you to add muscle to your frame, raise your metabolism, and give you a far more sexy and athletic-looking physique.
But, as I say, if you choose to starve yourself, you simply won’t have the energy to train effectively.
I’m not saying that you don’t need to do cardio and ab exercises.
Nevertheless, resistance training and proper nutrition will produce a sleek and toned midsection.
Ensure You’re at a Calorie Deficit to Get Abs
Probably the most important factor when it comes to getting abs is your body fat levels.
Basically, men need to have body fat levels of between 15-17% and women require 22-24% in order to even start seeing their abs come through.
Plus, the lower you can get your body fat levels, the more defined your core will look.
So, you’ll need to eat at a calorie deficit to lower your body fat levels.
By this I mean you’ll need to calculate your daily maintenance calories and then eat slightly below this level (300-500 calories), depending on your starting point.
Admittedly, based on your diet and your initial body fat levels, you may lose weight as well.
However, eating at a slight calorie deficit will allow you to also lose body fat.
When it comes to nutrition, the most important macronutrient is protein, especially if you’re exercising and aiming for a sexy, athletic physique.
Realistically, you’ll want to eat 0.8-1.2g of protein per pound of body weight, once again depending on your starting point.
You can then fit in healthy fats and carbohydrates for the rest of your daily calorie intake.
You could actually eat anything you want as long as it falls within your daily calories.
So, in effect, you could chow down on McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza, and ice cream, once more, as long as it fits in with your calories.
With that being said, it probably won’t be long before you find that all this processed food is affecting your metabolism and energy levels.
So, in reality, you’re best off sticking to whole and unprocessed foods, and having the occasional cheat meal.
Personally, I like to look at calorie intake for the entire week.
This allows me to eat slightly below maintenance (or deficit) levels for 6 days a week, and then enjoy a pig out on day 7.
So, I hope you understand that starving yourself will NOT help you get abs.
In fact, it’s more than likely to have the opposite effect.
Whenever you’re not eating enough food your brain goes into survival mode.
The brain then signals to the body to store any food consumed as fat, so it can be used as a backup source of energy.
So, you could actually end up with more body fat by starving yourself.
Furthermore, a lack of food will typically mean a lack of energy, which in turn means that you won’t be able to exercise effectively.
Plus, this can also slow down your metabolic rate.
In other words, starving yourself will put various obstacles in your way, all of which work against producing a great set of abs.
Even if thought starving yourself was bad then check out my article about whether punching your abs makes them stronger.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.