They're toned, they're taut and they're both an inspiration and a nightmare for the average man. We're talking male strippers — or rather Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and the rest of the stars who play strippers in the new movie "Magic Mike."
"We were just talking about this in our office," says Jim White, a personal trainer and registered dietitian from Virginia Beach, Va. "The guys are all saying they don't want their girlfriends or wives to go to the movie. And these are fit trainers."
True, the sight of a dozen or so hard-bodied male celebs may be a bit intimidating (even for gym rats), but a muscular physique — and, yes, sculpted abs — are definitely achievable, says White, a spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"You can't get taller but you can create the body of your dreams," he says. "I've had a 300-pound client get six-pack abs. There's no doubt in my mind that by doing the right thing you can get the body you want."
So, what does "doing the right thing" mean?
White says diet is the first step to turning yourself into a lean, mean, stripping machine.
"When it comes to losing weight and getting ripped abs and a flat washboard stomach, you need to control your portion size," he says. "Most men eat big portions so they need to watch that. Plus they need to make sure their carbohydrates are at a moderate level and that they're not white, refined or processed carbohydrates."
Sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and beans are good, he says. Potatoes, pasta, rice and chips not so much.
Good proteins are crucial, too.
"Guys with six packs need lean proteins, not fatty proteins," he says. "You have to drive right by the drive-through window when it comes to fast food. No fried chicken or T-bone steak. In fact, avoid any type of fried food."
For proteins, White recommends grilled (boneless, skinless) chicken, white fish or salmon (which has the right kind of fat), egg whites, ground turkey and Greek yogurt. "No-fly" foods that seem healthy but are actually packed with hidden calories or sugars include granola bars, juices, peanut butter, and cereal.
Finally, eating five or six small meals a day (a couple of which are snacks, for example, a handful of almonds — avoid peanuts or cashews — or a protein shake) helps to keep your body efficiently burning its stored fat.
"A lot of men think, 'If I'm going to be eating that much a day, I'll gain 300 pounds' but the key is to keep the meals small," says White. "Breakfast should be your biggest meal. It increases the metabolism and decreases the likelihood of overeating. It gives you energy throughout the day so you can get in really good workouts.
And working out, of course, is the other key part of the six-pack puzzle.
Reggie Chambers, a celebrity trainer who worked with Matt Damon on his "Bourne" films, says the day should start with a 30-minute aerobic workout — even before you've had any food.
"When you work out first thing in the morning, before you eat anything, you'll burn whatever you have stored," he says. "The morning workout should be cardio — running, boxing, jumping rope. Then you have breakfast after that."
But 30 minutes of aerobics first thing in the morning is just the start. A total body workout should take place midday, he says.
"That's when you're working your arms, chest, back, shoulders and legs," he says. "You could do circuit training with machines or free weights. I suggest free weights.
But wait, there's more.
You also need to fold in crunches and core-building exercises — either in the morning with your cardio and/or with your full body workout later in the day.
"Boxing is also an awesome way to stay in shape and to get nice cut abs," he says. "You're using your core and you're constantly twisting and turning."
How long does it take to get stripper-worthy abs?
"For a movie star who's already in shape, it would probably take about three weeks," he says. "For someone who's 20 pounds overweight, it would take about five to six months and that would be working out three times a week. If you work out every day, you could cut that time in half."
According to dietitian and trainer White, women who want to lose weight and tone up should follow the same routine — with one exception.
"Portion size should be around half of what men eat, but everything else applies," he says.
One more word of advice for the guys: Don't be too discouraged by the sight of those rippling torsos in "Magic Mike."
"You have to be realistic," says White. "A lot of celebs have personal trainers and they're working out six hours a day."