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Why Is It So Darn Hard To Lose Body Fat Today?

By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES

Belly fat: we all have it and some may have more than others.

What was once thought to be a storage tank for dietary fatty acids, has taken on a complex and intricate relationship within your body.

In fact, your fat cells may be one cause (besides a poor diet and inactivity) for your ever-increasing waistline.

Before you delve into the rest of this article, you should understand the basics about your fat cells, why they are important, and the exact reason why they may be bad for your overall health.

Fat Cells: They Release Potent Fat Burning Hormones

Before you digest any more information on your fat cells, you do need to understand one very important point: your fat is one of the largest endocrine organs in your body.

In the past, it was believed that your fat cells were just greasy little pockets that took on fat consumed in your diet.

Now, researchers have discovered that your fat cells actually release powerful hormones, called adipokines and cytokines, which are responsible for either increasing energy expenditure (fancy way of saying calorie burn) or inflammation in your body.

It has also been shown that your fat cells have an amazing ability to communicate with unspecialized cells, called pre-adipocytes, and stimulate them to start taking on fatty acids when the mature fat cells are full to the brim with fat.

However, on a good note, your fat cells also release two powerful hormones, called adiponectin and leptin, which have been shown to stimulate fat burning.

Leptin works by communicating with your brain, telling it when you are full and to increase metabolism and fat burning, whereas adiponectin is released into your bloodstream and regulates blood glucose levels as well as fatty metabolism.

In overweight or obese individuals, both of these hormones lose their ability to regulate metabolism, due to resistance (leptin) or less circulating levels of the hormone (adiponectin levels are lower), which may slow metabolism, boost fat storage, and lead to a host of other problems.

Different Types of Fat Cells

There are two different types of fat cells located in your body.

The first, subcutaneous fat, which is fat that is directly under your stomach, thighs, hips, and butt, is the fat that everyone is looking to get rid of.

Granted subcutaneous fat stores may not be pretty to look at, but depending on their function, it may be healthier to have higher subcutaneous fat stores than the next type.

The second type, visceral fat, is found deeper in your body, wrapped around internal organs.

It has been shown that visceral fat, although you do need some, may be more toxic to your body due to the harmful molecules that it produces and secretes.

In fact, higher visceral fat stores, has been linked to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and other metabolic conditions.

See more on the link between Visceral Fat and Diabetes

Although visceral fat is found in higher amounts in overweight or obese individuals, thin people may also have higher levels of visceral fat, depending on genetics, diet, and exercise history.

A high-fat diet may be linked to increased visceral fat stores, as well as lack of physical activity.

When looking at your risk factors for chronic diseases, where your fat is situated on your body is most important.

If you find yourself looking like an apple (weight around your waist) then you may be at a higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases.

However, if you find yourself looking more like a pear (weight in your hips and thighs) this may reduce your risk for chronic diseases.

No matter where your fat is distributed, reducing your overall fat levels is an important factor in improving your health and reducing your risk for chronic diseases.

Four Ways to Burn Fat

There are many ways to burn fat, but there are four that may be keys when you are trying to lose your stubborn belly fat.

Diet, exercise, controlling stress, and adequate sleep all seem to play a vital role in your ability to lose fat and keep it off.

1. Diet

Diet, of course, if the number one way to burn extra fat stores and lose your stubborn belly fat.

A diet full of antioxidant-rich foods, fiber, lean proteins, and essential fats may promote more fat loss, which could leave you with a flat and toned midsection.

Learn More about Special Fats That Burn Fat

According to some studies, increased fiber intake has been linked to lower increases in fat, especially related to visceral fat deposits.

Also, the right mix of foods could promote greater weight loss, which may increase the power of adiponectin and leptin, which could help keep your weight in check.

2. Exercise

Of course, you already know that an exercise program is essential for losing weight, increasing lean muscle, and improving overall health.

However, the right kind of exercise is more important if you want to burn both subcutaneous and visceral fat.

Vigorous exercise (like sprint training or interval training) has been shown to burn more calories, preserve most lean muscle mass, and increase calorie expenditure over a longer duration of time (up to 48 hours post-workout).

If you are a runner, including sprinting into your program may increase your intensity and lead to greater weight loss.

For a beginner, try alternating a walking program with periods of brisk walking or light jogging, to increase your intensity, burn more fat, and lead to better overall health.

3. Proper Sleep

It has been shown that poor sleep habits may lead to increased weight gain, due to poor dietary control and increased food cravings.

Getting a good night’s sleep is an important indicator in altering your body’s ability to burn extra fat stores.

Getting the right sleep may reduce cravings for high-calorie foods, which could promote increased weight loss.

Learn More about Sleep and Fat Loss

4. Stress

Managing stress is a key piece to controlling your weight and reducing your fat stores.

Everyone experiences stress, sometimes occasionally, but most often it’s daily.

Stress has been linked to an increase in appetite, which could cause cravings for nutrient dense, high-calorie foods, which may quickly increase blood sugar.

This could lead to increased insulin levels, which could stimulate greater fat storage.

Plus, most of those high-calorie snacks are full of fat, processed carbohydrates, and sugar, which could also promote fat storage.

In order to trim up your waistline, you need to manage your stress levels, and avoid high-calorie food options in times of stress.

Adopt These Four Steps to a Trimmer Waistline

In order to trim your waistline, you need to include these four steps.

This could boost your fat metabolism, shrink your waistline, and improve your overall health – for years to come.