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There’s a guy in the fitness center I manage that is struggling with losing belly fat. To battle that issue, he chooses to wear a ‘fat-losing belt’ and he rubs his belly with a special ‘fat-burning ointment’. He tries to lose his belly fat for over a year now, with little to no success.
Most people think that they can spot-reduce their body fat. They want to lose weight on the belly or on the thighs only. This is called spot-reducing fat, but this is mostly a stubborn myth. Although there could still be some truth behind it. I will look into the reason why and how you can actually lose your belly fat in this article.
How fat reduction works
In biochemistry class, you learn that fat is energy dense, but a pain in the rear for your body to metabolize. Fat is stored as triglycerides in fat cells.
Fat is so hard to break down because it’s stored as triglycerides. To use the fatty acids, your body first has to cut the glycerol molecule from the fatty acids. Then put the fatty acids in the blood stream to the muscle cell, where it gets turned into energy inside the mitochondria.
You don’t have to explain every single step of this process. The key takeaway here is that using your fat as energy is what your body doesn’t necessarily want to do.
The truth behind the myth
Scientists established long ago that targeting specific areas of fat was impossible. The myth has persisted largely because of dubious infomercials that play non-stop at 3am in the morning.
But this myth actually has some truth behind it. If you touch your body part with the most fat stored, you will notice that this part is cooler than the other parts of your body. That’s because in this area there’s minimized blood flow.
Most spot-reducing gimmicks try to increase the blood flow to a certain area of your body, such as your belly or your thighs. In theory, this works; but practically, the effect is so minuscule that you won’t see any real difference.
Don’t believe the hype. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
How to lose body fat instead
All living organisms must obey the first law of thermodynamics. The balance between energy intake and energy expenditure determines energy storage. Your body stores energy in the form of fat cells.
To lose body fat, you have to burn more energy than that you consume. It’s simple actually. Here are three ways how you can do this:
1. Pump up your muscles
While you may not be able to decrease the fat size on a certain body part by training in the gym, you will better your proportions. If you struggle with belly fat, training your back muscles will get you a better look in the long-term. Your body will look more proportional.
A great exercise if you want to spot reduce belly fat on your thighs is to do the squats or the leg press. These exercises train your whole body and help strengthen the muscles underneath. This creates a toned look in the long-term. Ask a competent friend or hire a coach for professional workout advice.
2. Hit that treadmill
Due to your genetics, you can’t decide where you will lose fat in the first place, but your actions will decide if you lose fat in the first place.
A great way to lose fat is cardiovascular training. While most people hate doing cardio (I’ve been there too), it nonetheless is important for your heart health. If you simply can’t manage to step on a treadmill, you can sign up for martial arts classes or do a team sport, where you exert yourself on a regular basis. A friend of mine has lost over 20 lbs by doing martial arts 2 times a week.
3. Eat like an adult
We all know which foods are good for us. Yet our actions don’t matches our understanding most of the time. Sometimes we eat like we are 5 years old.
The best advice I can give you in the case of nutrition is to eat like a freaking adult. Eating cereals for dinner or twinkies as a snack? To be blunt here: Take a look in the mirror. This is not how you are supposed to eat.
Start with simply eating more of the good stuff on a daily basis. Eat a little bit more vegetables than you are usually eating and you’re already making a great decision.
For more weight loss guidance regarding nutrition, you can watch this video:
Don’t believe the hype
Spot reducing doesn’t work. Don’t believe the media hype and scrupulous advertisers.
Ointments and specific belts may help you but it’s in a very minuscule way. Stick to the basics: Train your muscles, do cardio regularly and eat like an adult. The results will come, be patient and enjoy the process.
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