I’m happy to share this interview with Brad Gouthro, a personal trainer, certified nutrition and wellness specialist, author, and model. His new book, Awaken the Abs Within – 7 Secrets to Lose Belly Fat, was just released and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on it. Check out a preview of his secrets here.
1. Tell my readers a little bit about yourself including your fitness and nutrition background.
As a kid I was always involved in competitive sports. Even though I was a decent athlete, I was always self-conscience of my body. I had one of those hybrid body types where I was skinny all over EXCEPT my pudgy belly. This low self-esteem turned me into the kid who would never be seen with his shirt off. Fortunately, one of the things I did have going for me was my ambition and drive to continuously improve in all aspects of my life. The area I needed most help with was my self-esteem. This began my journey to become properly educated in health, fitness, and nutrition.
I began training over 12 years ago. But believe me, I wasn’t training SMART for those entire 12 years. I became so confused and frustrated with all the conflicting information and lack of results that I almost gave up. I then had an epiphany. Why should I listen to other people’s advice when I was in better shape than most of them (and that wasn’t saying much)? I finally realized that I needed ONE (and only one) mentor that was getting the results that I wanted. Once I found this mentor and got properly educated in fitness and nutrition, my body transformation literally took off.
2. It seems like every male wants six pack abs and all females want a flat stomach. Since so many people want it, why do so few have it? In other words, why is it so hard for people to get six pack abs and a flat stomach?
To be honest, it’s really simple to get a flat stomach and six pack abs. However, ‘simple’ doesn’t always mean ‘easy’. The secrets that I share in Awaken The Abs Within, are not that hard to do. It just takes discipline with your diet to eat natural unprocessed foods, increased intensity in your workouts, and a real desire to make a positive change in your lifestyle. You need to believe that you can do it. There are countless real life situations where people in much worse conditions have overcome all odds to lose fat and totally turn their lifestyle around. And that’s what this is all about. It’s a lifestyle! It’s not a short-term fad diet/program. It takes commitment, but everyone has the potential to do it.
3. In your program you say low calorie diets, excessive cardio, and countless crunches ARE NOT the way to a flat stomach and six pack abs. Your approach would surprise a lot of people. Can you explain this further?
In my program, cardio and abs training ARE a component of the program. But it’s not the main piece of the puzzle that most people should be focusing the majority of their time on. This is where too many people get confused. To find your abs you first need to lose the excessive belly fat covering them. Focusing the majority of your time on crunches will not burn enough calories to burn belly fat. To get the most out of your workouts, people should be focusing on multi-joint exercises that recruit more than one muscle. This will stimulate the greatest fat burning and hormonal response in the body, sparks your metabolism at a higher rate, and thus burns more overall calories.
After you focus the majority of your time on these multi-joint exercises, you can then spend the final 5-10 minutes directly strengthening your abs. The point is, abdominal training should be a smaller portion of your overall training session.
With regards to cardio, too many people (especially females) are missing out on the golden nugget of adding lean muscle mass. Lean muscle is the metabolic driver of the body. This simply means the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day. If you’re a female, you WILL NOT grow He-Man like muscles by lifting weights. Females don’t produce enough testosterone to grow large muscle like males.
Excessive cardio can also catabolize (breakdown) muscle tissue. This will slow your metabolism and essentially creates a smaller fat version of your original self.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of the program is diet. Most people think in order to lose fat they need to starve themselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you starve yourself, you’re actually creating a fat storing environment within your body. Essentially your body enters starvation mode and holds on to everything. Your body then attacks your muscle cells, thus reducing lean muscle tissue, which decreases your metabolism and throws your fat burning hormones and enzymes out of whack. For optimal fat loss, you need to consistently eat healthy whole foods.
If you’re looking to get lean, focus your time on eating the right TYPES of foods, in the right QUANTITIES, at the right TIMES. And make sure you spend the majority of your exercise time performing the right kind of multi-joint exercises and compliment that with a few minutes of ab work and a few sessions of cardio per week.
4. Can you really get “Abs in 6 minutes” like those infomercial products claim?
I get so frustrated by these ridiculous claims. It gives people a false sense of hope that always lets them down. As a fitness professional, it is my passion to make people aware that health is all about making the right choices. These choices create your lifestyle. I don’t promise my clients quick fixes. I provide them with a plan that will create a healthy lifestyle for them, if they commit to it over the long-term. One of the most challenging things people need to overcome is the desire for instant gratification. People need to remember it didn’t just take one week for them to get fat, so it’s not going to just take one week to lose fat. Consistency, discipline, intensity, and a positive attitude are the cornerstones of creating a healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t just take 6 minutes.
5. How many times per week do you recommend people train their abs? Should people change their abs routine?
It really depends on your current situation and goals. As mentioned earlier, direct training of your abs is just a small piece of the overall puzzle. Once you get your body fat levels low enough, you can begin to create more definition by directly training your abs. I personally, train my abs 4-5 times a week and continuously train them using different variations, reps, sets, etc. However, for someone that is carrying a lot of body fat over their abs, I recommend they spend more time performing multi-joint exercises to create a higher caloric burn.
6. How important is diet in getting a lean stomach and six pack abs? Can you provide any diet tips/insights from your book?
Diet is the area that most people are confused about. Getting abs is 80% diet and 20% exercise. This is why I’ve devoted such a large percentage of this book to nutrition. I always say, “Abs are made in the kitchen…not in the gym”. I see many of the same people in the gym everyday. But the thing is, their body never changes. Even though they may be working out hard at the gym, they probably have terrible eating habits. In Awaken The Abs Within, I’ve created a unique nutrition principle called TQT. It stands for eating the right TYPES of food, in the right QUANTITIES, at the right TIMES. Most people will be surprised at the quantity of food they should be eating to lose belly fat. You will never starve on this program. Following the TQT principles outlined in this book will ensure you keep your hormones balanced and create a fat burning environment within your body.
In this program I also provide a full list of the best fat burning foods including their protein, carb, fat, and calorie breakdown. I provide a sample meal plan and take you step by step through how to create your very own customized meal plan. I also show you how to calculate the quantity of food you should be eating at each meal based on your current body characteristics and lifestyle requirements. Lastly, I discuss when certain foods should be eaten and the types of foods to avoid at other times. By following the principles outlined in Awaken The Abs Within, it will take all the confusion out of proper nutrition planning. Most importantly, these strategies are implementable over the long-term and can be apart of your everyday lifestyle.
My main nutrition tip is to eat natural whole foods. You’d be amazed at the results you can get from adding more lean protein and dropping processed junk food and soda out of your diet.
Yes. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, beginner or advanced. I include over 30 weeks of workouts in this book. If you’re a beginner, you can start from week one. You don’t even need a gym membership to do these workouts. If you’re more advanced, you can skip right to the intermediate or advanced workouts. All of these workouts are designed to stimulate the body to burn fat and build lean muscle.
I also provide meal planning examples based on male and female requirements.
8. What inspired you to write this book?
Fitness and nutrition is my passion. I live and breathe this stuff everyday. More importantly, I understand the confusion and frustration that so many people are going through when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I experienced it first hand during my journey to a healthier lifestyle. Based on questions I receive daily from my clients, my social networks, and people at the gym, it’s apparent there is mass confusion surrounding fitness and nutrition. To help clear up all this confusion, I’ve literally downloaded everything that has worked for me and my clients in this book. It’s my hope that other people can take what I’ve learned and apply it to their current situation to create a healthier lifestyle.
9. What role does water retention play in getting flat abs? Do you have tips for reducing water retention, which almost everyone seems to have at some point?
I discuss a term called “false fat” in my new book. Many people suffer from this. This extra water weight (upwards of 10-15 lbs) gets trapped in the body’s tissues and contributes to abdominal bloating, cellulite, and face and eye puffiness. It can be caused by hormonal imbalances as well as not drinking enough water. Your body can produce too much of certain hormones based on the foods you’re eating. This can include foods that have been injected with hormones. Eating whole, natural, organic foods can help reduce this false fat as your hormones will be properly balanced. Another reason for this false fat could be you’re not drinking enough water. When this happens your body can produce a water-storing hormone that holds on to the little amount of water you’re taking in. Drinking more water can help decrease and release the amount of stored water stuck in your body’s tissues.
Absolutely. There’s nothing special about me. I wasn’t born with perfect genetics. I simply have the right information, make the right choices, and make my health a priority. Once you learn the right information, anyone can implement it into his or her everyday lifestyle. All it takes is consistency, discipline, intensity, and a positive attitude. And I truly believe everyone has that potential.
11. Should people track macros? Calories? If so, should they track them for a specified period?
Knowing the nutritional value and makeup of the foods you’re eating as well as your body’s requirements is very important in the beginning. However, over the long-term, I don’t expect my clients to count calories and macros every day. Currently I don’t track my macros. However, I have a very good idea of what I take in. This is just based on knowing a lot about the foods I include in my diet and portion size. When I first started learning about nutrition, I did track my macros and it was a fantastic learning experience. I show people how to track their macros in Awaken The Abs Within and also sell a meal planning software that calculates and tracks all your macros for you on my website. This is a very valuable source for people to use to get a better understanding of the nutritional value of the foods they are eating. Once you get a good grasp on the nutritional content and portion sizes, you can ball park most meals.
12. What would you say is the biggest mental hurdle people run up against when they want to get cut?
I’ve already discussed the power of belief. So here’s another one. People need to realize one slip up doesn’t ruin your whole plan. The real winners are the people who can rebound from these slip ups and come back stronger than ever. Besides, a treat meal here and there can actually be good for your metabolism. To ensure you don’t continually slip up, it’s very important to be prepared. Cook in bulk and always keep your kitchen stocked full of healthy food. Look at your grocery bill as an investment in your health. In the long term you’ll be saving lots of money on hospital bills.
13. Finally, what are your top 3 pieces of advice to lose belly fat and awaken the abs within that you’d like to leave my readers with?
Even though Awaken The Abs Within is packed with tips and strategies to lose belly fat and get a flat stomach, here are my 3 top tips:
- Eat whole foods. Get the processed foods out of your kitchen. Don’t even bring them into your house. This especially includes soda.
- Make the most of your time in the gym. Always try to improve on the previous workout by doing one more rep, increasing the weight, or increasing the intensity of your routine. Always be improving!
- Believe you can do it. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s so incredibly important. Find people getting the results you want (I hope I can be that person) and study what they’re doing in their lifestyle.