In order to target stubborn body fat, you must address diet, exercise and supplementation. It is possible to diminish it if you know what you are doing!
Stubborn fat is different from other types of fat. Stubborn fat has a high density of alpha-receptors compared to betas, is more insulin sensitive, and receives less blood flow than regular fat. According to T Nation
, "subcutaneous fat (fat below the skin) is more stubborn than visceral fat (the fat around your organs) or intramuscular fat (the fat in your muscle). The most stubborn areas of fat are the hips, butt, thighs of women, and the love handles on men."
In order to burn the fat, you must release it from a fat cell. This is called lipolysis. After this, the fat is brought to another cell to be burned. The fat now has to get inside the cell to be burned which is called lipid oxidation.
Stubborn fat releases itself more slowly due to two different receptors in fat cells. You fat releasing hormones are the catecholamines – norepinephrine and epinephrine to Americans, and noradrenaline and adrenaline in most other places.
breaks it down like this: "These hormones bind receptors in fat tissue that send the signal to speed fat release or slow fat release. These receptors are known as alpha and beta-receptors. The betas speed fat release. Think B for beta and burn. The alphas slow fat release. Think A for alpha and anti-burn."
So, to burn stubborn fat, you have to do things that are going increase the activity of the beta receptors and decrease the activity of the alpha receptors.
Insulin plays a huge part in burning or storing stubborn fat. Insulin impedes the release of fat releasing enzymes and increases the activity of fat storing enzymes. Insulin sensitive cells hold on to more fat than those that are more insulin resistant. Guess what, stubborn fat is more insulin sensitive than regular fat. Other things get in on the action here too. Thyroid activity can ramp up your beta receptors, so a disruption in thyroid function isn't a good thing. And estrogen, increases activity on the alpha receptors meaning that at certain points in the menstrual cycle, a woman's stubborn fat can become even more stubborn.
It also appears that stubborn fat gets less blood flow which means that even if the fat is released from the cell, it isn't being transported very efficiently.
So, how do you beat it? These steps, that's how:
- Stop dieting
- Cycle the diet
- Target the area
Eating less and exercising more may actually be standing in the way of you achieving permanent results. When you eat less and work out more, your body responds by resisting the weight loss. Your body makes you feel more hungry, provides you with less energy and decreases your resting metabolic rate around 300 calories a day.
And where are you likely to retain this weight, yup, in the areas where you find stubborn fat. Traditional dieting may be making your stubborn fat even fatter. Match your intake of food with your amount of exercise. If you are cutting food, decrease your amount of exercise, if you are going to increase the amount of exercise you do, increase the amount of food you are going to eat.
Cycle The Diet
Your metabolism is smart and it adapts quickly so you can't get too comfortable with one system. Mix things up to keep your body guessing. This will keep the thyroid activity elevated, keep leptin levels from dropping too low and keep insulin sensitivity at a manageable level.
You have to find the middle ground. Not too much, not too little. Give yourself a few weeks with eating less and exercising less (ELEL) and then switch for a few weeks of eating more and exercising more (EMEM). For a better idea of what that might look like in practical terms, head here.
It is helpful too keep in mind that this can be timed with the menstrual cycle. So, ladies, here's the deal: the week before and the week of your period are the points where your estrogen levels are lowest which means those alpha receptors are less active, making it easier to get at the stubborn fat.
Target the Area
This doesn't mean exercise per se. It is more about timing your diet, exercise and supplementation properly.
In normal circumstances, stubborn fat is burned far more slowly than the regular kind. This is why you could be doing everything right and still feel as though you are getting fatter. Fat burning occurs all over your body and because the regular fat melts away so much more quickly, it can create the illusion that the other parts -- like the love handles in men and hips/thighs area in women -- are getting larger.
It is important to remember that reducing fat is about reducing calories AND balancing the hormones. You will need to determine which part of your ELEL/EMEM cycle will give you the greatest deficit. Once again, T Nation
explains: "You'll need to choose which part of your cycle will put you in the most deficit. You'll use one part of the cycle, I suggest the ELEL, to "starve the fat." Then you'll use the other part of the cycle, I suggest EMEM, to "feed the lean" and protect against metabolic compensation and hormonal changes that make stubborn fat more stubborn."
There are also supplements you can use that might help like green tea extract and coleus forskohlii or forskolin. For a run down of what they do and how they might work for you, head here.
Do you have success blasting and burning stubborn fat? Tell us all about it!