I just finished the Paleo 30 day challenge and went from about 119 pounds to 113 pounds on a 5'4 small framed body. I work out regularly (5+ times a week) and I thought that with 6 pounds of weight loss, I'd finally see some abs but I don't! Do I need to limit my fruit/nuts and lose a few more pounds? Work out more? I'm unsure if it's my diet or work out that needs to change.
Your abs may appear when you stop fixating about them. Reducing stress will help lower belly fat. That said, it's really tough to get very lean, especially for women, and maintain it. It depends how much you want it, enough to endure intense fasted workouts, sticking exactly to what you've set out, and not 'cheating' on your food. People are obsessed with abs as a marker of good health. Sometimes it doesn't work out like that. Just make sure it's really what you want and it's worth the sacrifices (chocolate, lie-ins, your fertility possibly)>
I agree genetics is key.
My body for example, been down to 8% body fat for the past 12 months and can only show a "5 pack" due to the fact that there's a lack of hypertrophy on my lower abdominal muscles. "The Six Pack" doesn't happen for me until I'm down to 5% BF.
Here's my suggestion, if you're going for strictly for aesthetics the key is to gain muscle. I would do this by deadlifting and squatting massive amounts, once you activate those muscles and start building muscle (check out all the muscles you're using by incorporating these movements: erector spinae, gluteus maximus/hamstrings, quadriceps, Adductor magnus, Forearms, almost every muscle associated with hips, trapezius muscle or rear deltoid muscle, Transverse Abdominus, Gluteus medius/minimus (Abductors), Adductors, Soleus, Gastrocnemius), your body will start burning fat at a higher rate and you're are going to be overall more lean.
But I agree with the previous poster, gain more muscle. Most things in life are paradoxes and counter intuitive e.g., for me the key to losing more fat was gaining weight (through power lifting), and doing less cardio. Especially on a calorie constrictive diet (cardio burning more muscle than fat on a low carb diet, no sugar stores body only had muscle and fat to burn for energy).
Why do you care? Are you a swimsuit model? Be fit, healthy and happy. There are so many more productive things to worry about. Start saving for your retirement. Get involved with people in your community who don't have access to any fresh food at all. You look like a beautiful girl who has a lot of dedication to healthful pursuits and some awesome willpower. Funnel those talents elsewhere!
Having the abs of a fifteen year old gymnast won't make you nearly as happy as you think it will.
Read this article - while I won't say you cannot (or even as strongly as Warren that you are not supposed to) have abs, I think the article pretty compelling points out why it's difficult and, therefore, your issues. Maybe it's less of a "worry about my abs not showing" issue and more of a "worry about reaching the best health I can" issue.
If rock-hard abs are a priority for you (for a good reason other than just having them), then it may be worth focusing on; otherwise, you should probably work on developing and maintaining optimal health for your body type and know that healthy is beautiful whether or not the lines of the person's abs can be traced through their shirt.
I think you are talking about the six pack muscle; the rectus abdominus. It's the top layer of abdominal muscle, and you could have a really strong group of core muscles (necessary for good posture, healthy spine, ease of movement, etc) and not have a visible rectus abdominus. I wouldn't worry about it at all; just worry about having strong core muscles and moving and enjoying your body. I personally thing women's bodies are more beautiful without that washboard look.
What's a typical day of eating like? ALso, are you doing chronic cardio? That's no way to get abs. Lifting weights + HIIT training on the track or treadmill is a terrific way to get em. Make sure you're eating adequate protein and some fat is fine, just don't overdue it. To get to the point to see your abs may take a lot of sacrifice, but once you see em you can be surprisingly laxed with your diet and still maintain the definition.
You might be retaining water. I've noticed that when I eat a light dinner and not retaining water I can often see my abs. If I've had a big dinner, abs are absent in the morning. It really depends on so many factors.
A lot of models take diuretics to lose water before photoshoots to make their abs more visble. Obviously you don't want to go down that route.
Scale weight is so unimportant in this equation. It's body fat that influences whether your muscle striations are visible. Why are you so fixated on seeing your abs anyway? Shouldn't our focus (men and women, but most especially women) be on being STRONG and healthy??? I would suspect @5'4" & 113# you might be underweight due to a loss of muscle mass during this recent weight loss. Therefore, your change in scale weight did not result in a significant loss of fat, but that of muscle resulting in a higher %bf in the end.
The short answer: eat well, strength train, do not fear the carbs(ie whole food starchy carbs).