Getting shredded requires a combination of building muscle and losing fat, so depending where you are in your fitness journey, this can take a while. There is no quick fox for getting defined abs; you cannot spot reduce fat or out-train a crappy diet. And there are no magic supplements or specific diets that change this. Achieving a shredded look requires some serious hard work, time, and dedication. However, getting there doesn't have to be complicated.
How Long Does it Take to Get Abs?
Many start a diet with the hopes of looking a certain way but don't realize that weight loss alone just means you will be a smaller version of yourself. If you really want definition, you've got to build the muscle underneath first. So depending on how much lean mass you have, how often you are working out, and the type of training you are doing, how long it will take you to get ab definition will vary. Genetics can also play a role.
For many people, getting shredded requires them to build muscle mass or "bulking" before focusing on fat loss. And that's really it in a nutshell; there are only two requirements for getting a six-pack:
Build abdominal muscles
Lose body fat
And you can't just focus on losing belly fat alone; this process requires losing total body fat - to see more abdominal definition usually requires a lower body fat percentage - around 15% or less for men and 20% or less for women.
This overall process can take many months, if not years. The reality is, many people cannot build a beach body in six weeks, but you can still make drastic improvements in your fitness and health. And with enough dedication and patience, you will eventually get there. Having this understanding going into it is key. It allows you to be realistic with your expectations and will help ensure you don't get discouraged or give up when results don't come overnight.
How to Lose Body Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time?
The holy grail would be to short-cut the process of bulking and cutting back to back and just do both at the same time. This is somewhat possible but requires some interesting physics.
Technically, building muscle requires weight gain and losing fat requires weight loss, so how can you do both simultaneously?
It is possible to reconfigure your body composition over time, but your weight will change. And the process may take a little longer than if you went through the traditional cycling of massing and cutting. According to research, it may also be more easily achieved in untrained individuals with a higher starting body fat percentage - since they are prone to lose fat more efficiently.
One study suggests that with high protein intake and a well-planned strength training program, you may be able to increase lean mass while simultaneously losing body fat. Researchers found that as long as protein intakes remain high (up to three times the RDA), and you are participating in regular strength training, you may not only be able to preserve lean mass in a calorie deficit but can help increase it slightly. Although this approach is likely not efficient long-term, it is difficult to achieve, and the amount of muscle gained may not be as significant as what you would experience on a traditional bulking diet.
Do Fat Burning Supplements Work?
I'm going to give you the number one secret to optimal fat loss; it is cutting calories. That's it. If you don't get that part right, it's pretty damn near impossible to lose body fat.
But companies and "experts" are still going to talk to you about raising your metabolic rate and speeding up the fat burning process, through supplements and special diets, but these are false promises.
Based on what we know about the human body and existing research, you cannot hack your metabolism; it is largely determined by your body weight (mainly lean mass) and basal metabolic rate (BMR). And even though some supplements like caffeine, might cause minor increases in BMR, the amount is typically so small it doesn't outweigh the need for calorie control.
Fat burning supplements are often dangerous, ineffective, and expensive. That's because a majority of them work one of few ways - increasing your body temperature or your heart rate, in the hopes of helping you burn more calories, or improving fat oxidation - although calorie control is still needed to lose body fat overall. Research has yet to conclude that any supplements promote more fat loss than diet alone. Bottom line, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.