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Anyone for a six-pack?

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. – Shown here are some of the healthy food choices available at the Minot Air Force Base commissary. To celebrate National Nutrition Month, the Minot AFB Health and Wellness Center, First District Health Unit and Trinity Hospitals are teaming up to help people learn to shop for groceries in a healthy, feasible way by holding Stress-Free Grocery Shopping tours March 22 and March 25. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton)

Shown here are some of the healthy food choices available at the Minot Air Force Base commissary. To celebrate National Nutrition Month, the Minot AFB Health and Wellness Center, First District Health Unit and Trinity Hospitals are teaming up to help people learn to shop for groceries in a healthy, feasible way by holding Stress-Free Grocery Shopping tours March 22 and March 25, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton)

Members push through a set of side crunches during a hardcore class at the Southside Fitness Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 7, 2009. The Southside and Northside Fitness Centers here offer hardcore classes Mondays through Fridays at noon and give members a thorough core muscle workout while preparing them for the physical training test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Voss)

Members push through a set of side crunches during a hardcore class at the Southside Fitness Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 7, 2009. The Southside and Northside Fitness Centers here offer hardcore classes Mondays through Fridays at noon and give members a thorough core muscle workout while preparing them for the physical training test. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Voss)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Did I get anyone's attention? Well,  I don't mean a six pack of beer, I am referring to those six-pack abs that everyon dreams about. Have you done crunches until you wanted to cry? How many of you have some infomercial gadget that promised you would have a six pack in no time? Well, crunches and gadgets are great, and exercise is important to gain that washboard midsection, but the most important aspect in achieving your 'Arnold' abs ... is nutrition.

Below are some tips on healthy eating that will get you on your way to that chiseled physique.

Improve the quality of foods that you consume by eliminating foods and liquids that does not  have any nutritional value . Some ot these items include:
    · White sugars of any kind (a 12 ounce can of cola has more than nine teaspoons of sugar).
    · Saturated oils and butters
    · Polished grains, white bread, white rice
    · Fats on all meats
    · Excessive amounts of coffee, tea, etc.
    · Beer, liquor, mixed drinks

When selecting foods be sure that they contain proper portions of the six basic nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Do not eliminate any of them. That's right ... do not eliminate carbohydrates or fats.

Whole grains and healthy carbohydrates to include fresh fruits, vegetables, brown breads, brown rice, baked potatoes, whole grain cereals and pasta should make up 60 percent of your total calorie intake.  Lean proteins in the form of fish or chicken without the skin, nuts, beans, soy bean, dairy products and lean meats  should make up 25 percent of your total calorie intake and 15 percent should be in the form of fats, primarily vegetable or fish sources.

If you're trying to lose weight, 1 to 3 pounds weight loss per week should be your maximum goal. If you lose weight too rapidly, chances are you are losing muscle and water weight ... not fat. Remember,  excess weight did not happen overnight,  so do not get frustrated to take it off overnight.

Your body has a very delicate saline concentration to maintain so reduce salt intake. If you overuse salt, your body begins to retain water to stabilize the saline balance. Natural salt in foods is plenty ... do not add salt.

Reduce your consumption of red meats, egg yolks (maximum three per week), butter and margarine. This will automatically reduce your intake of fat and cholesterol. Make fish and chicken your main source of protein.

Drink plenty of water: Try to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day (i.e. 200 pound individual = 100 ounces of water per day).

Exercise:  Inactivity is the main cause of weight gain. Not burning the excess calories will cause the gradual weight increase. An extra 100 calories per day (about 1/3 can of cola) results in 1 pound gained every 35 days or 10 pounds per year. Weight gain and loss is simple mathematics. You must burn more than you put in to lose weight.

Eat a good nutritious breakfast, a small mid morning meal (piece of fruit and some water), a moderate lunch, a small mid afternoon meal, and a small dinner. That's right, eating five to six smaller, balanced meals per day will help with weight management. It doesn't mean adding two or three meals worth of calories. It means spreading the intake of calories out more.

There are also many different "fad" diets out there today which promise quick weight loss with no discomfort; no abstinence from high caloric, high fat foods, no need to count calories, no need to exercise.  Beware of these fad diets that promises something for nothing. They can be dangeraous to your  health. These schemes are not recommended because fad diets are always deficient in one or more of the essential nutrients; they make use of only a limited number of foods; they do not offer your body proper proportions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates; and, dieting alone may reduce body weight ineffectively. Unfortunately, about 40 percent of weight loss can be good muscle fiber. Only with a combination of exercise and sensible eating can weight reduction be permanent and taken mainly from fat deposits. Therefore, in most cases the weight is regained as quickly as it came off... and as additional fat.

So, how do you get a six pack? Follow these guidelines, start a consistent exercise program, and you'll soon see those lost abs uncovered.