Six Pack Question From A Subscriber

Today’s six pack article is actually a question from one of my email newsletter subscribers.

David Smith in London, Canada sent me the following message:

HI David,

I signed up for your newsletter, which I am enjoying thus far.

I need your help or feedback on what I might be doing wrong.

First of all, my stats are 43yo, 5’6.5, approx 14stone.

I workout about 5days a week and then I do cardio 1 or 2 times per week.

I am currently doing an upper/ lower split.  I use only free weights.  My core exercises vary from leg raises, swiss ball rollout, weighted ab curls, russian twist.

My diet on an average day is like this:

glass of water
some oats and raisions
2 mugs of black coffee
one scoop of whey with milk and a banana

one yogurt

veggies and a tin of tuna or salmon, or sardines

nuts and fruit

carrots or fruit


PWO Shake  2scoops of whey

8:15pm  salad and eggs, or chicken

half an apple with a tsp of peanut butter or a yogurt.

David, can you give me any suggestions to unleash my abs, or go get a tighter leaner body.


As you can see David is doing the work in the gym and obvioulsy paying a lot of attention to his diet, but despite this he isn’t getting it quite right. This is the reply I sent him:

Thanks for your email and I’m glad you’re enjoying the newsletter.

The first thing that I noticed about your question was that lack of exercise doesn’t seem to be the problem, it’s more like your diet. I worked out how many calories you’re having and, even though I could only do this roughly with the information you gave me, I think I might  have the answer for you.

From what I can see, you work out 7 days a week and get around 1800 calories a day. I’m assuming that you’re trying to reduce your body fat and 8 meals a day is a good start, but the amount you eat is only  equal to or even less than your BMR. If  you don’t know what this is, it stands for Basal Metabolic Rate and is the minimum amount of  calories you need each day. Not getting this many could put you into starvation mode which means, among other things, that your metabolism slows and your body becomes better at storing fat.

Your TDEE, your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, is the total amount of calories you need when your activity level is taken into account. For
you it’s about 3,000 calories. To effectively lose body fat and weight, I recommend eating about 500 calories less, so in your case this is 2,500 a day.

This obviously means you eating more, which you might not want to do. Given how often you train though, I think your diet needs adjusting.

Here are the links for a couple of articles on my website that might help you.

A couple of other suggestions I have for you.

First, training 7 days a week is admirable but you might want to try having a rest day to give your body chance to recover. Sunday’s off perhaps?

Second, I notice that before your workout you’ve only had fruit and maybe some nuts, and after you have 2 scoops of whey, followed an hour later by eggs or chicken. I’m not sure where to start with this!

Before your workout you need carbohydrates, which are definitely lacking in your diet. See the newsletter I sent you called Watch Your Diet.

After your workout you again need carbohydrates, not just whey protein. Without carbohydrates with your protein your body can’t absorb it anyway, plus 2 scoops is too much. Your body can only handle 30 grams every couple of hours, any more literally goes down the toilet. You make this worse with your chicken just 45 minutes later. You need carbohydrates not even more protein!

I could say more but I’ll stop there. Check out the article links I’ve sent you for my website and work out your calorie needs. Also, you should check out my friends at Metabolic Cooking for some great metabolism-boosting recipe ideas. You can find out more about this at

I hope this has helped you but any further questions get in touch.

Struggling with your diet and actually being too successful at cutting calories, or just eating incorrectly, is  a very common problem with people who have too much body fat. It can be difficult to accept that more calories are required to lose body fat and weight, and even harder to allow yourself to do it, but all I can say is try it for a month or so and if it doesn’t work you can always go back to not eating enough.

I’m 5′ 9″ I weigh 12 stone (168 pounds) and my body fat is now around 7% but rather than eating as little as possible, I aim for 3,000 calories a day. If my activity levels increase for any reason this increases further, like when I did an 80-mile cycle ride a couple of weeks ago. That day I had over 5,000 calories. And the next! After that it returned to about 3,000.

If you’re wanting a good physique and a lean six pack, low body fat is necessary, but so are quality calories in a sufficient amount to build and maintain it.

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