Breaking Down Stubborn Fat

I know, you’ve done everything all those Google searches on “fat-loss” told you to do. You’ve rocked those “toning” workouts so hard you could’ve been the star of an eighties workout video. You ordered salad at dinner even though those french fries were calling your name. You got used to feeling hungry all the time — and what happened? You found yourself dreaming of chocolate a lot more than usual and those love handles are still there.

Darn.

So let’s talk about something that works. 

First, it’s important we understand why it’s harder to burn fat in certain parts of our bodies, such as our abdominal region, glutes, lower back, and thighs. What do all of these things have in common? They’re storage centers for what we call “stubborn fat.” 

What is stubborn fat?

There are two different types of receptors on your fat tissue. Alpha-receptors and Beta-receptors. In short, beta-receptors are the “good ones” as they promote the fat burning process, called lipolysis, by releasing stored fatty acid into the blood stream so that it can be used and burned by cells. Alpha-receptors, the enemy, do the opposite. They actually prevent lipolysis. As you may have guessed, alpha-receptors are ever present in the areas where we store stubborn fat.  

What can I do about it?

In order to lose fat in one area, you’re going to have to lose fat everywhere. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are key. You will need to create what is called a calorie deficit: You have to use more calories than you consume. You can do this by either eating fewer calories than your normal (dieting) or by increasing your calorie output (exercising) without increasing your calorie consumption. Basically, you need to cut back on calories one way or the other.

A simple trick is increasing the amount of protein and decreasing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. When you do eat carbs, make sure they’re high in fiber. We all know it’s hard to reduce the number of calories we eat without feeling like we might pass out, but if you maintain a healthy regimen of eating enough protein (1.2-1.5 gram/lb when cutting body fat), you’ll feel it’s more manageable. Tip: Snack on polyunsaturated snacks such as nuts, seeds and fish. Not only are these high in protein, they also help burn fat. 

At the gym, doing cardio before breakfast or on an empty stomach will help to burn fat as your insulin levels are already low. Additionally, studies show that interval workouts are more effective in raising metabolism levels than steady cardio workouts. If you want to build muscle, eat a high protein snack before you work out so that muscle growth is supported. 

When craving fatty foods, relax. It’s normal. You’re going to miss the things you cut out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy new routines. To help with sugar cravings, swap your morning coffee with green tea. Coffee can stimulate our nervous systems so much that when we crash, we think we’re starving but we’re really not. At night, instead of having another glass of wine, have a warm-up of tea to help you relax. If you’re in desperate need of a sweet fix, enjoy some dark chocolate. Not only is it lower in sugar than milk chocolate, but it’s also high in antioxidants. 

I hope this helps you break down that stubborn fat — in more ways than one. Enjoy your journey and good luck! 

Image used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Arya Ziai

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This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.