While you have fat all over different parts of your body, it isn’t all the same, there are just certain areas that are particularly tough to eradicate. For some, it tends to be hardest to lose fat from the arms, chest, and legs, while for others, the hardest areas tend to be around the hips, butt, and thighs. And many find the most challenging area is their lower stomach. You know, that layer that sits at the bottom of your stomach, below your belly button, obscuring the gains that you’ve made with all of your lifestyle changes. It’s that annoying layer of fatty tissue that prevents you from looking as lean as you want, and makes your pants still feel tighter than they should. Many people will try to reduce fat from these areas using targeted exercises. This might involve doing lots of hanging leg raises, crunches, lunges, leg lifts, squats, etc. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to sculpt your body and reduce the fat in these areas by doing a whole bunch of targeted exercises! In fact, as you build up the muscles UNDER the fatty tissue, it can actually make it bulge out FURTHER!
In the end, what causes stubborn fat is the same thing that causes all fat, consuming more energy than your body uses each day, resulting in an energy surplus that gets stored as fat. So, to be clear, you will never be able to get rid of your lower stomach fat – or any stubborn fat, for that matter – unless you’re burning more energy than you’re taking in (typically through lifestyle modifications like we teach at Lehigh Valley Weight Loss, Women’s Health & Aesthetics). However, there are several key differences between stubborn fat and less stubborn fat, which makes the former more difficult to lose, even when you’re maintaining an appropriate caloric deficit. This is because the fat in different areas of your body is actually physiologically different, meaning that it is more difficult for your body to properly mobilize and burn fat from these stubborn areas.
To burn fat, it must first be released from your fat cells. This is known as lipolysis. In stubborn areas like your lower stomach, fat is released more slowly than from other areas. This is because stubborn fat cells actually have a different type of receptor than normal fat cells: they have what are known as ‘alpha receptors’ instead of ‘beta receptors’. These receptors are what interact with hormones known as catecholamines, which are what trigger these cells to release fat; however, the alpha receptors in the stubborn fat cells cause the fat to be released far more slowly than the beta receptors in the normal fat cells.
So, when you lose weight, you’ll typically see more initial weight loss from the fat cells with beta receptors, while the fat cells with alpha receptors will be slower to respond. Thankfully, these fat cells, the ‘BAD’ fat, comprising your visceral fat, are usually located in and around your abdominal organs, and it goes away first, creating a healthier you!
Insulin plays a major role in how the cells in your body store fat. Primarily, it does this by increasing the activity of LSL (a major fat storing enzyme), and decreasing the activity of HSL (a major fat releasing enzyme). And since stubborn fat cells are typically more insulin sensitive, meaning that they react more strongly to insulin, this means that they tend to store more fat and release less fat than regular fat cells.
When fat gets released from a cell, it actually has to be transported to different cells in order to be burned. This process is known as lipid oxidization. Unfortunately, the areas that have the most stubborn fat also tend to get less blood flow than areas with non-stubborn fat. This means that when fat is realized from the cells, it is more difficult for your body to effectively transport that fat to where it can be processed and burned.
Stubborn fat is an issue that many struggle with, but the solution isn’t to waste your time doing a hours of lower ab, butt or thigh exercises. You can’t get rid of the fat in a specific body area by trying to target those areas with exercise. It will definitely make the muscles stronger, but it won’t make them more visible, and it won’t do much to burn the fat that’s covering them or sculpt your body into the shape for which you are looking. And if you’ve already maximized your lifestyle, you may want to look towards other methods of permanent removal of these stubborn areas of fat and sculpt your body with laser lipolysis.
Instead, to properly deal with any areas of stubborn fat from your jawline down to your ankles, you may be best served by permanently eradicating the trouble spots with a minimally invasive office based procedure that takes about 2 hours called Smart Lipo. By using a laser and local anesthesia, this technique targets these areas through a few tiny incisions while you lie comfortably on a table having a conversation, listening to music, or even sleeping. The laser permanently destroys the fat cells (laser lipolysis) while at the same time tightening the skin. You’re back to work in a couple of days and the results are noticed immediately and even continue to improve over the next 3-6 months. This is by far less invasive, traumatic and expensive than traditional liposuction with better results. If you’d prefer a completely noninvasive method, results are less dramatic, but it is less expensive and it utilizes a different type of low energy laser that penetrates the skin painlessly while you lie comfortably in a bed for 30-40min. This treatment takes 6 cycles at 1-2x per week for best results.
If either of these interest you, call for a consult! You can see what will work best for you, get pricing, discover our current specials and see what else we have to offer as well! Remember our motto, “Get Healthy, Feel Good, Look Great!”