How to lose stubborn fat – hip, thigh and belly fat
A 3 part series on stubborn fat and cellulite, by Sue Heintze
We’d all love a lean, smooth body like the one above…but let’s face it – it can be hard work for most women. Stubborn fat has always been a problem for me too, but I’m not so frustrated by it now that I know the physiological reasons it is there. I also know, from past experience, that with diligence and commitment, stubborn fat CAN be gotten rid of. And this gives me tremendous peace of mind.
So over 3 parts I’d like to talk a little about what stubborn fat is, why it’s there, and what you can do about it…
You probably know that you don’t have to be overweight to suffer from cellulite and stubborn female fat. Many active, lean women have cellulite and annoying pockets of stubborn fat, most commonly stored in such places as their thighs and butt.
Well for a start, it is as simple as the fact that you are a woman. It’s nature at work – you see, our bodies were made with procreation in mind. And, one of the reasons fat is believed to be preferentially stored in these areas is for breastfeeding. We’re built under the assumption that at some point we’ll be responsible for another little human being, thus we are genetically programmed to have a backup supply of fat so we can care for our offspring in times of famine.
When women lose fat, typically we lose it from our upper body first. No matter that we may have a lot more fat down below; our body will always take the fat from our upper body first. Yes; our face, our chest, our shoulders, our back, our boobs. That’s the pattern of fat loss for most women, and as frustrating as that is, unfortunately we can’t change that. We just have to be patient for our body to realize that it’s safe and ok for it to give up the stubborn bits.
HOW BODY FAT IS STORED
Let’s take a look at how body fat is stored in general.
Firstly, fat is stored in several places on the body – within the muscle as intramuscular fat, around the organs as “visceral fat”, and under the skin as “subcutaneous fat”.
If you’re inactive, the fat starts depositing in the muscles first – the muscle tissue gets “marbleized”, kind of like scotch fillet steak. After the intramuscular stores are full, the fat then spills over to subcutaneous (under the skin) stores, which shows up on your body as visible body fat.
Suffice to say, to remove the fat, you need to reverse the process (let me reiterate patience…)
Exercise tends to draw significantly from the intramuscular stores early on, so instead of seeing a huge change when you look in the mirror, you should rather feel your muscles getting firmer and less “mushy”. This is why exercise (and specifically a strategic combination of interval training, steady state cardio and progressive weight training) is a key to overall fat loss.
So, the fat we want to come off, the visible stuff, starts to reduce once the intramuscular stores are whittled down a bit.
It’s important to remember that you cannot “spot reduce” – it comes off in sheets, like an onion. So the areas of stubborn fat will hang around for a while, even though you feel good, look “healthier”, and you know your body fat is decreasing. Accept this as part of the process.
As part of your fat loss, there usually comes a stage I call the ‘squishy fat stage’. Your ‘fat bits’ may actually look a bit worse at this point, but the great thing is that your fat is breaking down. It’s a good sign – do NOT give up at this stage!
So the first lesson is a lesson in patience. In the next part of this 3 part series, I’m going to talk about exercise and stubborn fat, and provide you with a relatively unknown trick for reducing those frustrating areas of fat that just don’t want to go away.
Next I want to talk about exercise and why stubborn fat is doubly difficult to lose – it is stored easily, yet is extremely hard to shift once it is stored. Ill tell you why…
Adrenoreceptors are found in all body fat cells; and these adrenoreceptors are able to trigger changes within the fat cell. They control fat cell metabolism as well as blood flow into and out of the fat cell.
Body fat contains two types of adrenoreceptors – beta and alpha. In basic terms, beta receptors promote fat metabolism and alpha receptors block fat metabolism.
Continuing in very basic terms, in the game of fat loss, beta receptors are good, and alpha receptors are bad.
According to research, lower body fat has been found to carry as much as 9 times more of the baddie receptors than the goodie receptors. This doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
So the process of actually losing body fat (normal or stubborn) requires us to first mobilize the fat out of the actual cell and into the blood stream. Lack of blood flow to stubborn areas makes it even more difficult to mobilize the fat out of the cell.
Secondly, the fat has to be burned off once it’s escaped from that darned cell. If it’s not it can simply be shuttled right back into the fat cell again!
One of the BEST ways to mobilize fat out of the fat cell is to perform high intensity exercise. It also has the added fat burning effect of lowering insulin levels (the presence of insulin inhibits fat mobilization) so you’re getting a double whammy in favour of fat loss here.
During high intensity training you are using mostly carbohydrate for energy as opposed to fat. Essentially what these workouts do is prime your body for fat loss by releasing fatty acids from the cells as well as raise your metabolism and fat burning ability for up to 38 hours following your workout (as a result of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC for short).
Research indicates there is a big surge of fatty acid release into the blood stream, minutes after completing a high intensity exercise session. In other words, when you have completed your high intensity session – your fat is now ready for step 2 – fat burning!
If you neglect this second step, then you are missing out on the ability to obliterate troublesome stubborn fat.
We do this by following up the high intensity workout with some steady state cardio work. This allows your body to burn off the fat that is now circulating in the blood stream. This type of cardio, performed at around 65-70% of your maximum heart rate, is well known as the ‘fat burning zone’. If you train in this zone you will be burning mostly fat for fuel, as compared to carbohydrates.
So if your current exercise program isn’t helping with stubborn fat removal, then stop listening to the naysayers!
While high intensity exercise is the bomb when it comes to increasing metabolism and getting the most ‘bang for your buck (or butt!)”, a few strategically placed steady state cardio sessions can do more for your stubborn fat stores than you ever thought possible! If you have fat that just won’t go away then don’t overlook the benefits of this much maligned training system.
Here’s a simple bodyweight workout designed to bust stubborn fat:
(I’ll presume you’ll warm up prior to performing this workout)
Walking Lunge into Calf Raise x 10 (total of 20 steps)
Mountain Climber x 30-40
Jump Squat x AMAP
Rest 1 minute
Push Up x AMAP
Frog Jump x 10 (each side)
Spiderman Exercise x 10 (each side)
Rest 1 minute
Repeat 2-3 more times through
Rest 3-5 minutes, then
Alternate between the following at a heart rate of approximately 65-70% (or a level 3-4 on a Rate of Perceived Exertion chart) for a total of 30 minutes:
a) 5 minutes of slow jogging or fast walking
b) 5 minutes of slow stair climbing, or slow uphill walking
Rate of Perceived Exertion Guidelines:
0 nothing at all
1 very weak
4 somewhat strong
6-7 very strong
8-9 very, very strong
10 maximum intensity
You don’t have to go crazy on the cardio, more is NOT necessarily better – what matters most is where you program them in your training schedule. And don’t forget – to get that beautiful shapely, toned figure you still need to build or at least maintain your muscle mass so some heavier workouts are also recommended.
Aside from an appropriate fat loss diet and targeted training program, the following things should not be overlooked in the fight against stubborn fat and cellulite.
1. Load Up on Antioxidants and Super-foods
Mum was right – you really do have to eat your fruits and veggies every day.
What she may not have told you is that fruits and veggies help supply the antioxidants that fight free radicals.
Antioxidants are sometimes called “free radical scavengers” because they come along and mop up the mess made by the free radicals.
They also prevent future damage by providing a layer of protection for the cells and tissues in your body, just like a thick coat of wax protects your furniture and your car’s finish.
2. Promote Healthy Estrogen Metabolism
To promote healthy estrogen metabolism it’s obvious we should avoid the things we know that contain the nasties like soy and certain plastics and canned foods.
Things to Avoid:
It may not be possible to avoid these foods completely; however you should aim to do so as often as you are able in order to limit the possibility of an excess estrogen problem, or being exposed to hazardous toxins.
Soy products such as tofu, soy protein etc. (fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh and soya sauce appear to be safe due to the fermentation process)
Canned products (as much as possible)
Plastics (absolutely avoid all plastics with the number 7 and number 3 on them)
Safe items to Use:
All glass products for storage and cooking
Plastics that display ‘BPA Free’ on the packaging or the number 5 on the bottom of the container
The following brands (at the time of writing this program), claim to be BPA free:
Storage containers – Glad, Systema, Décor, new Tupperware, Saran, Ziploc, Lock & Lock
Water – Nobles Pureau (BPA free lining is used in their casks)
*It’s impossible to list all brands in all countries, but I implore you to simply make sure whatever you use for food and water storage or cooking is labeled “BPA Free”.
In addition to avoiding these hazardous substances, we should also ensure we include a special, very powerful class of veggies in our diet to offset any excess environmental estrogenic effects.
Cruciferous veggies are rich in zinc, vitamins A, B, C, D and E and have been regarded for centuries as medicinal foods. Even more interestingly, scientists have isolated a constituent in cruciferous vegetables called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) that is especially beneficial to estrogen metabolism. Examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Kale, Bok Choy etc.
3. Look After Your Liver
There are some amazing foods that are highly cleansing to the liver, thereby positively influencing the way it is able to function. It’s really important to include plenty of these in an effective fat blasting diet. Something as simple as squeezed lemon in water, is an amazing detoxifying drink that also helps to alkalize your blood.
And here’s an interesting side note. Did you know that fat loss and exercise will also help your liver? Most toxins are stored in fatty tissue so any time you burn fat you are detoxifying your body. Another big tick for the fitness lifestyle!
4. Become More Alkaline
You need to learn how to incorporate more alkaline producing foods into your diet, to balance the foods that are acid forming.
You may find it interesting to know that most protein foods are acid forming. Bodybuilders and fitness models eat a lot of protein because protein is ESSENTIAL in your diet if you want to shape and sculpt a great body. So, you see it’s really important to learn how to offset acid forming foods without sacrificing lean muscle. In other words you don’t want to simply swap protein foods for vegetables (veggies and some fruits are highly alkalizing) because you’ll end up with an entire new set of problems!
Some other common foods and beverages that are acid forming include coffee, alcohol and wheat.
Don’t panic though, you don’t have to give up your morning cuppa, become a teetotaler, or go low carb!
What you DO need to know is how to offset the more acidic foods in your diet with alkaline ones in order to keep your blood pH levels healthy. Generally animal protein, dairy and grains are mostly acid producing. It goes without saying that all processed foods are acid forming. Vegetables and fruits are generally alkaline producing, however many fruits are acid forming too (purely because of their sugar content).
It’s not to say that acid forming foods are necessarily bad for you. If you were to consume a diet high in acid forming foods, and very low in alkalizing foods, that would not be a good thing.
If you do some research on acid vs alkaline foods, you’ll find that the information about some foods and whether they fall into the acid or alkaline food class is not cut and dried. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by this information. Simply aim to include plenty of vegetables in your diet, and restrict the use of processed foods, caffeine and alcohol and you will achieve a nice balance.
If you have a hard time getting rid of stubborn fat, you might like to check out the program I wrote specifically for those who suffer with stubborn female fat.
Here are a few unique things about the program:
*I wrote it based on experience and two years of research – it’s written by a woman, FOR women. I have a special affinity for those who battle with cellulite and stubborn fat because I’ve dealt with it my whole life
*I explain why some common foods are toxic and contribute significantly to your cellulite and stubborn fat storage – and what foods to eat to offset the damage
*I teach you how to cleanse, detoxify and balance your system by making sure your diet is better able to deliver nutrient to your cells, in turn allowing your fat metabolism centre to function optimally
*I introduce the “Fat Finisher” workout – a forgotten exercise technique that when used in strategic sequence will blast stubborn fat to smithereens!
Cellulite and stubborn lower body fat is a massive problem for women of all ages so I’m thrilled to be able to offer this comprehensive, scientifically backed solution, that incorporates my fat stripping Nutri-Active Diet Program.
Plus, you get 12 weeks of workouts for free! Click HERE or on the image above
No matter how you feel about your body, always remember: