Struggling With Stubborn Fat? This One's For You...
Stubborn Body Fat...
Pretty much everyone but those genetically gifted weirdos deal with it...
Stubborn body fat is no fun, and it appears that everyone deals with it in their own way...
For example, most guys deal with stubborn body fat in their midsection and lower back, where most women deal with it in their lower body (especially the thighs and hips).
So the questions you want the answer to...
"Is it possible to eliminate stubborn body fat?"
From what I have read and experienced, the answer is.... YES!...but only...kinda...
The Myth of Fat "Spot-Reduction"
Firstly, I want to say that it makes perfect sense for people to think that spot-reducing fat is possible.
Intuitively, the idea that you can target fat in a certain location by exercising it directly makes sense. For example, you'd think that crunches burn belly fat and squats should burn booty fat...etc.
I believe that our intuition is normally pretty spot on when it comes to diet and exercise, but unfortunately, this isn't the case for "spot-reduction fat loss."
Multiple studies have shown that you can't train a specific area and increase the amount of fat loss in that area.
Here is what a study done by The University of Connecticut found:
This study followed 104 participants for 12 weeks as they resistance trained their non-dominate arm. The goal was to see whether this would result in greater fat loss in the trained arm compared to the untrained arm.
After the 12 weeks, MRI assessments of the subcutaneous fat lost before and after the program was generalized across the body.
Basically, there was no greater fat loss in the trained arm compared to other parts of the body (and specifically the untrained arm).
Not to get too geeky, but here is the basic physiology of why you cant spot reduce fat:
Fat in fat cells are known as triglycerides. Muscle cells cannot directly use triglycerides as fuel. The fat must first be broken down into free fatty acids in the bloodstream. This means that the fuel our muscles come from anywhere in the body where there is blood (which is basically...everywhere.)
Takeaway: Although it seems intuitive, we cannot spot-reduce fat. the fat that we burn for energy is firstly broken down into the bloodstream, and then sent throughout our bodies.
A Little More Science...
I'm no expert when it comes to diet and fitness... instead I like to consider myself an "Overly-intrigued Average Joe"
There are many great resources out there that present nutrition and exercise science who have much more authority than I
I just wanted to throw that little "disclaimer" in there before moving on ;).
So why do we have stubborn body fat?
To burn fat, our bodies produce chemicals called catecholamines. They "attach" to fat cells. In response, the fat cells release energy.
Fat cells have two types of receptors, alpha and beta receptors. Simply put, alpha-receptors hinder fat loss and beta-receptors speed it up.
The ratio of alpha to beta fat receptors is genetically predetermined for each individual person... so we each have our own "stubborn fat" areas.
Like stated earlier, men often have stubborn fat issues in the stomach area and women have them in the hips and thighs.
By this point, you are probably asking, "OKAY ENOUGH WITH THE SCIENCE, Can I get rid of stubborn fat?"
How To Actually Get Rid of Stubborn Body Fat
When it comes to burning stubborn body fat, the BEST thing you can do is lose body fat in general.
This is done by eating in a calorie deficit consistently overtime.
Everyone differs in how they physically hold and release body fat, so eating in a calorie deficit and being consistent with your diet is the best way to eliminate overall body fat.
It may take that last 2-3 pounds of weight loss to actually see fat loss from your stubborn body fat area.
I, for example, hold the majority of my stubborn body fat in my lower back and lower stomach. Every other part of my body (arms, chest, shoulders, upper back, legs, butt) drops fat quickly, but my midsection is the first to gain and the last to lose fat.
Here is a photo the show what I am talking about:
I'm only about 10 pounds lighter in the photo on the right, but the difference appears to be much greater than 10 pounds (in my opinion...)
The photo on the left represents where my body naturally would stay if I wasn't consciously tracking my calorie intake to make sure I was eating in a deficit. I've found that my body comfortably hover around 12-13% body fat (left photo).
If I want to get to sub 10% (like the photo on the right), I have to work at it, and be conscious of what I am eating on a daily basis.
In order for me to get a visible six pack, I have to drop to a fairly low body fat percentage (somewhere around 8-10%).
Some guys and gals are lucky and have a high ratio of beta-to-alpha fat receptors in their stomach region, making it easy to get a six pack around 12-14% body fat.
These are those people who have toned stomachs even if they don't consistently work out and diet...
( Right now you are thinking of that person who has an awesome six pack year round no matter how much they eat. It's okay to hate this person.... haha)
The only thing I have found that might aid in getting rid of stubborn body fat is Fasted Cardio.
There is some research that shows that more fat is oxidized (burned) in a fasted state than when fed, however, these effects are not very impressive nor conclusive.
This is why I don't think that it's necessary. Unless you are preparing for a bodybuilding show, killing yourself to burn an extra pound of fat is just ridiculous.
Remember, fitness should enhance your life, not make it harder.
If you are consistent with exercise and dieting, you will slowly, but surely lose fat.
You may be like me and find that your body just doesn't really like to be at a lower body fat percentage, in which case you'll just have to decide if having a six pack is worth the extra effort.
For most people, trying to keep a six pack year round is going to require dedication and a proven, effective program.
I personally choose to follow the Aggressive Fat Loss program when I am leaning down.
And maybe getting a six pack isn't for you. that's totally fine!
the "six-pack" doesn't determine optimal health... your diet and lifestyle do!
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