There’s no such thing as localized fat loss. If you want to see your abs, doing more sit-ups isn’t going to do it. Want toned legs? Leg exercises won’t cut it either. Arms? Yup…you guessed it – not going to happen.
Fat Loss is Systemic
Your body does not discriminate from where it pulls its energy reserves (fat) from. It is constantly mobilizing and storing fat, from all over your body, at all times of the day.
Fat storage patterns are different from person to person. There are a lot of factors that influence where you store the majority of your fat. A couple of these factors are hormone levels and genetics. Your ratio of testosterone to estrogen, and your body’s sensitivity to insulin play a large role in where you store fat. In addition, whether you are a male or female plays a role too. This gender specific fat storage pattern has a lot to do with the differences of hormones in our bodies.
Why Can’t You Target Fat Loss? It’s Physiologically Impossible
When you workout, the hormones and enzymes responsible for fat loss are released into the bloodstream. Within seconds and a few heart pumps, they are dispersed throughout the entire body. For example, you start doing sit-ups with the hope that the fat next to it will be used. Instead, in response to a muscle being contracted, the body notices a demand for energy, and starts releasing fat-mobilizing hormones. These hormones, which are now everywhere in the body in seconds, start pulling energy (fat) from all over the body.
If it seems like you’re holding onto your fat in your belly or your butt, but losing it everywhere else, this is just an illusion. You are actually losing fat all over your body, but the results tend to show up in the areas where you hold the least amount of fat. Remember, as explained earlier, everyone has a different fat pattern for where they hold the majority of their adipose tissue. This is why I believe it is imperative that you are doing body fat tests frequently throughout your weight loss program. Using body fat calipers will show you proof that the fat IS actually coming off those stubborn areas.
How Do You Lose Belly Fat?
If you want to lose that belly fat, you need to get yourself on a balanced exercise and nutrition program. You need to put your body into the right hormonal state so that it can mobilize its fat reserves. How do you do this?
Your diet needs to have a calorie deficit, and it needs to be focused around improving insulin sensitivity so that your body’s fat-mobilizing hormones can start circulating the bloodstream. As your insulin sensitivity improves, you need less and less insulin to shuttle the glucose from carbohydrates (and protein) into your cells. As insulin levels come down, your body is then able to release fatty acids. It can’t do this when insulin levels are high, as insulin is a storage hormone.
Your exercise program should be focused on using compound movements that will challenge your entire body. Use exercises that activate as many muscle fibers as possible. Isolation exercises might have their place, but the average person has no need for them until they have a solid foundation of muscle tone. Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Work out with a high intensity, and don’t worry so much about the fat burning zone.
Now that you know the myth of targeting fat loss and why it’s physiologically impossible, stop planning your workouts around where you want to lose fat. Instead, focus on being consistent, balanced, work hard, and make sure you are eating the right foods to put your body in a fat burning state.