In part oneof this series we discussed the different types of fat and what makes some fat tissues more “stubborn” than others to be eliminated. We got into the various receptors on fat cells and probably more detail than you’d ever want to know.
However, all of this will help serve to give you a better understanding of how the body works and therefore you’ll begin to see why traditional methods of removing stubborn fat fail miserably.
It bears repeating that no amount of further caloric restriction or excessive cardio will do the trick. This only works to further trigger the built in mechanisms that work to hold onto fat reserves for self-preservation purposes.
In essence you have to send the right signals to your body that it’s ok to release this fat and starvation is not eminent. Because stubborn fat tissue is different in make up from a receptor standpoint, you’ll want to use targeted nutrition and exercise strategies to go after it.
In part two of this series, we’ll be looking at more depth on the nutrition side of the equation.
More after the jump…
In part one of this series we discussed how stubborn fat tissue tends to have more receptors for estrogen and is therefore “estrogen sensitive.”Â This gives cause to look at your diet for clues on possible foods that may be contributing to excess estrogen in the body such as processed soy products and high amounts of omega-6 oils.
I should specify that soybeans in their natural state are not a problem, especially if they’ve been soaked or fermented. It’s only when soy has been processed in some way. Think along the lines of veggie burgers and soy milk for example.
I am not a fan of processed soy products, and yes this includes soy milk. I’ve gone into extensive detail on this in other posts. You can do a search in the box at the top of this page to review previous posts where I’ve discussed my position on soy products in more detail.
Let’s just say there’s a reason why it’s not uncommon to see vegetarians who are otherwise lean to have a pooch belly. I’ll leave it at that for now.
Alcohol consumption and stubborn fat stores…
Whenever I’m consulting with clients I try to make sure there’s a clear understanding of expectations with reaching a certain body fat percentage and how it relates to alcohol consumption.
Personally I don’t believe that alcohol in moderation is necessarily a bad thing. I understand this is a personal choice and I respect that. It’s more about what your specific goals are for fat loss at any specific point in time.
Can you enjoy a glass of wine or alcohol drink on occasion and achieve or maintain a lean physique? Most definitely. Once again it’s in the context of how much, how often, etc.
What I will say however is that if you’re primary objective is to target that last bit of body fat or get really lean, you’ll want to put alcohol on the shelf for a minute. It provides no benefit in helping you to burn fat and when consumed in excess it can negate all your hard work in the gym and with your diet.
Specifically where alcohol comes into play with trying to remove stubborn fat stores is the ability of the liver to properly metabolize estrogen. Quite simply, when the liver is burdened with job of metabolizing acetate (the by-product of alcohol sugars converted in the liver), it’s ability to metabolize estrogens is impaired.
Remember stubborn fat tissue is highly estrogen sensitive and more prone to storing fat. Women who are perimenopausal or postmenopausal often suffer from estrogen dominance with a relative deficiency in progesterone.
In short, the more alcohol that is consumed the harder it is for the liver to metabolize estrogens and therefore the harder it will be to target stubborn fat tissues.
The same thing goes for men as excess alcohol consumption decreases testosterone production and increases estrogen levels. Not the combination you’re looking for if you want to target that last bit of belly fat or add more lean muscle.
Once again a couple of beers on the weekend isn’t going to swing big doors, but if you’re having a couple of drinks on a daily basis you’re literally handcuffing your ability to really target stubborn fat stores. Amount and frequency does factor into play here, but just know there’s always a trade off if you’re not willing to scale back on the booze.
Foods and herbs that serve as estrogen inhibitors
If you’re looking to really dial in with removing that last bit of stubborn body fat, it’s worth looking at increasing your consumption of certain foods and herbs that can help inhibit estrogen and modulate its effects. Here’s a short list:
- cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, etc).
These contain some of the most potent estrogen inhibitors found in foods. Best to steam these vegetables as cooking helps to neutralize substances in crucifers (such as goitrogens) that can inhibit the production of thyroid hormone. Just a little side note.
- Chamomile teas
- Omega-3 oils
- CLA (found in grass fed animal proteins)
The optimal diet for reducing stubborn body fat…
While it would be nice to give you a clear cut specific diet to follow for reducing stubborn body fat, it’s just not that simple.
The reason is everyone is simply different in terms of which foods promote an allergen effect, rate of metabolism, and other bioindividuality factors.
Each person has to experiment to see how they’re body responds to various foods and what combinations seem to work best. Personally, I typically recommend starting with more of a Paleo or Primal Blueprint type diet foundation and then adjusting from there.
Digestive health and function really is a significant factor when eliminating stubborn body fat. It only makes sense to eliminate or minimize foods that may pose an allergen or irritant effect on the GI tract (at least for a while).
These would include pasteurized cow’s milk, wheat products, and excessive grains in general. The only way to tell how sensitive you are is to pull them out for a few weeks and see how your body responds.
Some people do better with legumes and rice for example so I’m not a hard-line Paleo advocate with religious zealotry. You have to see what works best for you.
What I will say however is that taking steps to improve digestive function and health is one of the most impactful things you can do nutrition wise to support the elimination of stubborn body fat.
Increasing fiber consumption, taking probiotics, and digestive enzymes are all worthy considerations. So too would be including fermented foods in your diet to promote healthy GI balance.
Let’s just say I’ve seen numerous cases where individuals reduced grain and milk consumption and quickly saw a noticeable difference. Target the most likely culprits for inhibiting nutrient assimilation by causing GI imbalances and follow an otherwise clean diet of whole, natural foods.
That’s the best bit of general diet advice I can provide. Find out what works for you.
Are there any supplements that target stubborn body fat?
If you’re looking for a “fat burner” pill to zero in on that last bit of stubborn fat you’re likely to be disappointed. Typical fat burners work by stimulating the adrenals to produce more adrenaline which we’ve already learned doesn’t work well for stubborn fat tissue with more alpha receptors.
In short, they’re using the wrong pathway and won’t do you much good.
There has been discussion in the past about a supplement that could be used for targeting stubborn fat tissue.
For years bodybuilders, who probably know more about shedding that last bit of body fat than any group, have experimented with the herb Yohimbe bark.
Why Yohimbe bark?
Well it’s because Yohimbe is an alpha-2 adrenergenic antagonist. In simple terms this means Yohimbe may block alpha receptors of fat cells from accepting nor-adrenaline.
This would “open the doors” per say for and trigger the fat cells to release their contents. Woo-hoo! Finally a natural herb and not a drug that could zap that stubborn fat.
Hold your horses, we have some problems here…
The first problem is that Yohimbe is far from perfect in oral form which is the most likely way to take it. Remember that fat cells don’t have very good blood circulation. Unfortunately, to adequately saturate the fat tissues with more alpha receptors you’d likely flood the rest of the receptors in the body.
A common side effect of Yohimbe is increased heart rate. Probably not a good idea to be pounding down a bunch of Yohimbe pills, especially if you’re at risk with high blood pressure.
In short, Yohimbe’s effect would need to be localized. This is an area where spot reduction may actually hold some promise with the use of localized creams.
I’ll go ahead and cut to the chase and tell you that…
From what I’ve gathered in research the use of Yohimbe for spot reduction of stubborn body fat is DEAD!
Don’t waste your time, money, or health experimenting or monkeying with it for fat loss.
What I will say however is the jury is still out on topical creams, such as Aminophylline cream, as possibly being able to target stubborn body fat.
Please do NOT take this as a recommendation as I’m by no means fully versed on the safety and possible contraindications. I’m just sharing the information.
Some of you may be familiar with Timothy Ferris, author of “The Four Hour Body.” Ferris has done some extensive “guinea pig” research on himself with outside of the box fat loss and muscle building techniques.
While unconventional there may be something to a lot of the techniques he’s experimented with. I try to keep an open mind as just because you may not have heard of something doesn’t mean it’s automatically unsafe or ineffective.
Here’s a link to an article he posted on his blog regarding spot reduction for stubborn fat. Scroll to the end where he talks about his experimentation with Aminophylline topical cream.
Once again don’t run out and rub this stuff all over you saying “Shane told me so.” Check it out for yourself and make your own decisions after careful consideration.
I’m by no means endorsing any products here or making a recommendation.
On the cutting edge with fat loss in general…
As a wrap up for this section of the series on eliminating stubborn body fat, I’ll conclude by saying a few words regarding what the best and brightest minds in fat loss are focusing on these days.
As we continue to learn more about how the human body stores and releases fats, it’s becoming increasing evident that the concept of intermittent fasting holds the most promise.
I’m currently working on dietary strategies right now that incorporate the principals of intermittent fasting. This isn’t “fasting” like you’d think with going long periods of time on nothing but water. We’re talking about periods of 12-18 hours in a true fasting or semi-fasting state followed by periods of under and over-feeding.
The Renegade Diet by Jason Ferruggia and Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler or both examples of intermittent fasting type diets. Paleo gurus like Mark Sisson and Rob Wolf are also talking more about the use of intermittent fasting strategies.
It appears the principals go back to how our ancestors evolved. The idea of having to eat every 3-4 hours is not something we tend to see in earlier generations. It was more of periods of restriction (not necessarily voluntary) followed by periods of feasting.
While not ideal for everyone at any given point in time (often times it makes sense to boost metabolic rate by starting out with eating something every 3-4 hours for several weeks), let’s just say the use of intermittent fasting techniques are worth investigating and experimenting with.
For what it’s worth that’s where my attention is at.
Ok, that’s a wrap for part two of this series. In part three we’ll get into my favorite part of the subject…the optimal ways to exercise for eliminating stubborn body fat.
Here’s a link for part one of this series.
Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.