Stubborn Fat – Why is it hard to lose and how to lose it
By – Elly Cowley
Hi I’m Elly Cowley, the in-house Nutritionist at Valiant Performance. I’m fully qualified in Food & Nutrition, I am a practicing REPS Level 3 Personal Trainer and I am currently studying with the BTN Academy. My speciality as a coach is to help clients optimise their nutrition so that it supports their goals, whether this is to lose body fat, increase muscle mass, improve performance, or general health and wellbeing. My mission is to help as many people as possible feel great about themselves and reduce any confusion when it comes to nutrition. In fact that is my philosophy; food should be simple.
In a modern world full of seemingly quick fixes, it’s no surprise that the most common question I get asked is:
“How do I lose this bit of fat right here?”
This is proceeded by the questioner pointing to or grabbing the part of their body in question.
Any product which claims to reduce fat or tone up a particular area of your body should be taken with a large pinch of salt, as unfortunately there is no proven method of targeting fat on specific areas of your body. Slimming pills, skinny teas and toning belts are all products which use clever marketing to convince us that they work, but research proves time and time again that they don’t.
This also goes for exercises aiming at reducing fat in certain areas i.e. abdominal twists for ‘love handles’. While they can undoubtedly strengthen muscles in the local area, they do not reduce body fat in the specific area. Instead fat loss occurs more or less evenly across the whole body even if only one body part is trained directly.
That being said, most people find that they have one or several areas of their body where fat is more stubborn than others. For men this is usually their abdomen and chest, and women it is their thighs, hips and arms, though this can vary due to hormones and genetics. The human body likes to retain a certain percentage of body fat. This differs from person to person, but quite often this is the point where people find that their body becomes resistant to losing the last few pounds. The more body fat we lose the more difficult it becomes to lose the last bit of stubborn fat. When you hit this point then dialling in nutrition and tweaking your diet can help you continue to progress.
The bottom line is that in order to lose weight we must burn more energy than we consume, a.k.a create a caloric deficit. This can be achieved by either eating less food, burning calories through exercise, or a combination of the two.
To summarise – stubborn fat is hard to lose especially as we lose fat and get leaner. The key to losing it though is making sure you’re in a reasonable and safe calorie deficit. Have the patience to persevere and the fat will come off with time as long as you’re consistent with your nutrition.
DISCLAIMER: it is possible to be in too much of a caloric deficit which can cause a range of issues from muscle breakdown or organ malfunction. Therefore it is advisable to seek assistance with working out the best energy balance for your goals if you are unsure how to do so.
The methodology we use to get to a desired point of leanness can vary widely between individuals – for example, what works for a shift worker may not work for a 9-5 office worker. Therefore it is important to find out what works best for you, either through self-experimentation or by seeking advice from a nutritionist. If you’d like to know the basics of losing fat and general nutrition see our previous post “8 Rules for Fat Loss”.