“Stubborn body fat.” Those three words conjure up some very unpleasant images of those “last few pounds” in those “hard to lose” places. In men, it’s the annoying pockets we get right around our navel, lower abs, lower back, and sides of the waist that make us want to leave our shirt on. In women, it’s the “grandmother arms” tricep flab that sort of flaps around in the breeze when you wave to someone… and those dreaded “saddlebags” – the upper thigh, hips and butt area – especially that place where the back of your thighs meet your gluteus maximii.
If you want to “minimize your maximus” and other trouble spots, I have a theory about SO-CALLED “stubborn fat” and what to do about it. Some people might not agree with me, holding fast to a belief that certain fat cells are simply harder to burn due to some kind of alpha 2 receptors or hormonal anomaly, but I at least want to offer my hypothesis for your consideration.
Even Bodybuilders Have “Localized” Fat Deposits
If you’ve seen my pictures, you might be shocked to hear that – like many men – I store fat VERY easily on my lower abs. You might not even believe me (unless you’re one of my college buddies, then you know what I used to look like).
It’s true. I’ve had challenges losing lower ab fat just like everyone else. I don’t call it “stubborn fat” though. I call it “localized fat.” It was extremely challenging to lose the first time because I didn’t know how the human body worked. I didn’t understand the weight regulating mechanism, starvation mode, feedback loops, thyroid, leptin, lipoprotein lipase, insulin, metabolic rate and so on. But I searched for answers and eventually found them.
I was able to lose these localized abdominal fat by learning human physiology and by changing my attitude towards the entire situation. I definitely didn’t lose it by using some “magical” spot-reducing machine, drug, supplement or “fat melting crème” because such an animal does not exist.
Would YOU like to learn how to permanently lose localized fat deposits no matter how “stubborn” you think they are – and do it the NATURAL WAY? …The permanent way?…. so it never comes back?…. if so, then this might be the most important article you ever read.
Do You Cling Onto Self-Limiting Beliefs?
A big part of the problem is that many people BELIEVE in stubborn fat so much that they literally manifest more of it! I don’t know everything about everything… heck, I’m just a “muscle head” from New Jersey… but one thing I am 100% certain about is that if you walk around all day long complaining, “I can’t get rid of this stubbornfat!”, well, my friend, you aint gettin’ rid of the fat! No person ever became successful by thinking about failure all day long.
The ironic thing is, nearly ever email I receive from distraught overweight people starts off with, “Help Tom, I CANT LOSE THIS FAT!” It’s rarely, “Hey, Tom I know I can lose this fat, I just need some coaching. Teach me how to lose it. Show me what to eat and how to exercise. Just tell me what it takes and I’ll do it.” Nope, hardly ever get emails like that.
I don’t believe in “stubborn fat.” There is no such thing as stubborn fat in the sense that one pocket of fat does not burn in the same way that all the other fat on your body burns – There is only “stubborn fat” if you’re referring to certain areas as beingthe LAST place to go.
Genetics and Fat Storage
To explain energy in – energy out, I’ve often likened the body to a bank account when referring to caloric energy deposits. Ironically, however, the body is NOT at all like a bank account with respect to fat withdrawals. You could deposit 20 five dollar bills, 10 ten dollar bills and 5 twenty dollar bills in that order, and you’d have $300 stored in your account. If you wanted to take out $100, you could selectively withdraw the FIRST $100 you deposited – the 20 five-dollar bills. Body fat cannot be withdrawn this way.
Fat storage patterns are genetic. The first place you store fat is where you’re genetically predisposed to deposit it. Over the years, I’ve measured body fat on thousands of people. It’s always been interesting to see the disparities in the places that individuals store fat. I’ve seen women with very small iliac crest (hip bone)skinfolds of only 4-5 millimeters in thickness, but they have very large tricep skinfolds (20 millimeters or more). I’ve seen guys with arms and legs that were ripped and veiny, with 3 millimeter skinfolds, while still having a roll of lower ab fat.It’s very frustrating for many people to be lean in most of their body while still storing fat in one localized spot, but it’s actually more common than having fatspread evenly throughout the body.
Most men store fat first in the lower abdominals, sides of the waist and lower back. Women tend to store fat first in the hips, upper thighs, and often the back of the arms. As body fat percentage increases further, you will continue to deposit fat in those spots and everywhere else on your body – even your face and fingers. Once deposited, you can’t selectively choose where you withdraw the fat – you will lose fat all over your body and it will more or less come off in reverse order: The first place you put it on will be the last place it comes off.
Spot Reduction STILL Doesn’t Work
You might have the desire to remove the fat on these concentrated, localized fatty spots first, but unfortunately, that’s not how human physiology works. In fitness lingo, we call this “spot reduction.”It’s the idea that you can do certain exercises, rub cream on one part of your body, or take a certain drug, and it will melt the fat off one part of your body and one part only. The idea is wrong – spot reduction is physiologically impossible.
Not only do most people believe in stubborn fat, they also believe in spot reduction. Unethical marketers, without a shred of integrity, have taken advantage of this fact for years by selling worthless gimmicks which claim to remove fat from a specific area.
Every year, promotional articles and advertisements come out claiming that a breakthrough has been made and spot reduction is “now possible.” The infamous “cellulite cream” is one spot reduction scam that never seems to go away – it keeps popping up with a new name wearing different clothes.
Other spot reduction scams include abdominal machines, ab rollers, ab wheels, electronic stimulators, pills, soaps, wraps, girdles, and so on – all of which claim to remove fat from the stomach, thighs or other specific areas. Some of the exercise machines are effective at developing the muscles underneath the fat, so they aren’t totally worthless, but the claims of local fat loss are where they fail.
No matter how many times we fitness professionals give this speech: “Spot reduction doesn’t work – it’s a myth,” the public still wants to believe so desperately that it IS possible, that they keep plunking down their hard-earned cashola, scam after scam after scam, hoping that science has finally produced the real McCoy.
I’ve read the ads for these new topical fat burners and they can be EXTREMELY persuasive. They quote scientific studies and get testimonials from big names, some of whom you would assume are very trustworthy. But ethics often melt quickly in the rays of big money endorsements.
Let me save you a lot of time, money and frustration: “Spot reducing” products are not effective for permanent fat loss and never will be. Do not waste your money!
The good news is that if you learn the physiology of fat loss –which is really quite simple – and if you work with your body naturally, you can lose ANY fat. All you need is a little bit of patience, persistence and some good old-fashioned hard work.
The Truth About Stubborn Fat
Here’s why these fatty areas appear “stubborn” and why people continue to call it “stubborn” fat: By the time someone loses enough fat overall to be down to that last localized “pocket” (the place they put it on first), most people have caused metabolic and hormonal damage from overly restrictive dieting. THAT is what makes the last fat harder to lose; not because the thigh/butt/tricep/ab fat cells themselves are more stubborn, but because you’re simply not burning as many calories as you used to.
For example, if a you’re a guy with a total daily energy expenditure of 2800 per day and you stay on 1500 calories per day for 90 days (starvation diet), then according to the mathematical calories in versus calories out calculations, you’ve accumulated a 117,000-calorie deficit. With 3500 calories in a pound of fat, that means you should have lost 33.4 pounds of fat. But you didn’t!! You lost maybe 19 pounds and then got stuck at a plateau with that last bit of lower ab flab still defiantly clinging to your waistline. Why? Because you’re no longer BURNING 2800 calories per day!!! Your metabolic fire has dwindled to a weak flicker. There is no longer a 1300 calorie per day deficit.
In other words, you hit a plateau – metabolically and hormonally. Your fat-burning hormones and enzymes have decreased. Your metabolic rate is depressed. You’ve lost lean mass, which has slowed your metabolism even further (and permanently so until you put that muscle back on through weight training and eating like a human being instead of a mouse). Last, but certainly not least, your appetite has gone haywire and you seem to get constant cravings that are practically irresistible.
If you had not slowed down your metabolism and created an unfavorable hormonal environment due to improper dieting and lack of exercise, you would not be stuck and that last bit of fat would just continue to come right off just like the rest of it did – it would be the very LAST place to come off, but it WOULD come right off.
Your solution for losing the last bit of localized fat is to avoid metabolic slowdown in the first place and then to patiently and persistently follow through until you’re as lean as you want to be. In part two, I’ll reveal the all natural Venuto methods for losing even the very last bit of localized fat – even if you’ve tried everything and have never been able to lose it before. Stay tuned.
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Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer and author of Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 140 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom is the Fat Loss Expert for Global-Fitness.com and the nutrition editor for Femalemuscle.com and his articles are featured regularly on literally dozens of other websites.