So what is 'stubborn body fat'?
If I’m being honest, most people don’t know what stubborn fat actually is.
Just because you have some fat on the back of your arm, doesn't mean its stubborn. Just because you've tried 'everything' and your belly won't budge, doesn't mean it's stubborn.
In most cases, 'stubborn fat' is the LAST bit of fat to come off when you’re dieting down to REALLY LOW BODY FAT LEVELS.
Usually lower abs and back for men and the lower body and glutes for women.
On average you won’t come across that stubbornness until you get under that mystical 10% body fat. Above that, then fat loss is actually relatively easy just following some simple easy steps, however, that’s not what this article is about.
This article is going to outline what stubborn fat is and what I use to get rid of it it.
We all know when it comes to fat loss, we have to create some form of caloric deficit right?
And it's this deficit that the body senses releasing something called the catechlomines. These two bad boys (adrenaline and noradrenaline) are released into the blood and latch onto fat cells.
Catecholamines basically aid fat mobilization by activating another bad boy, hormone sensitive lipase. (HSL) This hormone takes the fat out of the cell to be used as energy to make up for the created deficit.
However, it seems there’s a big difference between normal fat and stubborn fat. It’s to do with the receptors in the cell and how many of each receptor there are.
EASY fat (the one which we find easy to lose) has a high ratio of b2-receptors and STUBBORN FAT has a high ratio of a2 receptors.
So what can we do about stubborn fat?
Well we need to increase blood flow to the stubborn areas, so that the catechlomines can do their job. A great way to do this is through fasting. It’s a massive topic at the moment and pretty damn popular. It's nothing new either, it's been around 1000s of years. Humans are made to fast! But it's become popular more so lately with the introduction of intermittent fasting and other similar variances.
Although the thing is, fasting doesn't suddenly solve everything. Yes it can increase blood flow to certain stubborn areas, but it's only one tool. For instance, and it may sound obvious, you still have to diet properly whilst fasting. If you aren't dieting correctly, the fasting won't work! But the two combined (fasting and dieting) can really be effective.
It actually has quite a lot of research behind it, see below.
However, something to take note of from the research is that during prolonged fasting in humans, up to 40% of the fatty acids released from fat cells are taken up again and converted back into triglycerides in fat tissue (4).
Did you read that correctly?
40% of fat released from the fat cell is soaked back up by other fat cells!!
Below is a bit of science behind what happens on a micro level. If this is a bit deep for you, scroll down to where it talks about what we can do in the gym!
- Triglyceride synthesis (fat burning) requires G3P. During fasting, fat cells cannot use glucose to produce G3P since glycolysis (the breaking down of glucose) is minimal in this state.
- Another source of G3P must be available. This is where a biological pathway called glyceroneogenesis comes into play.
- Glyceroneogenesis utilizes non-glucose substrates such as amino acids and lactate to synthesize G3P.
- The key glyceroneogenic enzyme, PEPCK-C, is up-regulated during fasting when both insulin and glucose are low (5).
- Because low insulin and low glucose are also consequences of low carb dieting, it’s not much of a jump to suggest that PEPCK-C will be up-regulated then as well.
- This can drive the production of G3P from amino acids supplied by dietary protein which in turn can allow the production of triglycerides from fatty acids supplied by dietary fat.
A few low carb proponents have acknowledged the existence of glyceroneogenesis, but state that it occurs at a rate not even worth mentioning.
Apparently, they took what is known regarding the rate of glyceroneogenesis during the “normal” condition of mixed dietary intake and assumed that glyceroneogenesis is merely a minor metabolic pathway that doesn’t do much of anything under any condition, never considering that low carb dieting can (and does) change the equation.
We could also supplement.
Lyle talks about a supplement called 'yohimbine' in his book. It has the ability to switch off a2 receptors aiding stubborn fat mobilisation.
Yohimbe and its subset Yohimbine are fat-burning compounds that work in the body by increasing adrenaline levels in the body and inhibiting a regulatory process found on fat cells that is normally suppressive of fat burning, thus leading to an increase fat burning potential. (http://examine.com/supplements/Yohimbine).
(I take the version called yohimbine HCL 15minutes before exercise, but in order to guage your precise needs for supplementation it is advisable to seek advice from a certified sports nutritionist.)
And don't forget, when dieting, your protein needs to be elevated. The leaner you are, the higher your protein needs may be. Remember to eat around 1g/lb of bodyweight. And supplement with the highest quality protein you can find like our very own BioWhey -
Anyway, I could keep going on about it all day (fasting), if you’d like to know more check out a cool website called www.leangains.com, the owner Martin Berkhan has revolutionised the whole fitness industry and also check out lyle mcdonald's stubborn fat book.)
Stubborn Fat Protocol - what to do in the gym!
Finally, getting back to topic. In the book stubborn fat book i mentioned above for you to check out, lyle outlines a brilliant protocol he uses for stubborn fat( http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/the-stubborn-fat-solution) and here I’m going to outline my own kind of take on it which I believe could be better
REMEMBER………do this upon waking, fasted or three hours after a meal.
1. 5-10mins warm up, just pick a piece of equipment and get on it. Nothing to draining.
After you're warm, move onto step two.
2. If you have a partner this part can be made easier. Hop on a bike, start pedalling, when it hits a round number I want you to sprint as fast as you can for 5 seconds.
Yes you’re probably thinking that there’s no resistance. Well on the point of 5 seconds when your feet are moving faster than the bike itself, your partner will enter level 15 or above, suddenly you will have speed and resistance.
This is the catalyst for FFAs to be released from the cell. You’re then going to try and maintain your overall speed for another ten seconds.
All in all you will have been working 15seconds!
That’s it, one sprint done. If you need a sick bucket at this point, go and get one.
Your next sprint will be as soon as you feel you can put your ‘all’ into another sprint.
Or to be precise, when your heart rate drops back down to 110-120.
All in all, you may be able to do about 3 sprints (if its your first time). Work up to 5 if you can. If you complete 5 with ease, believe me, you’re not working hard enough.
You should feel like death
3. Hop off the bike and rest for 5minutes, letting the lactic acid work its way out and then comes the boring bit
4. Pick another piece of equipment, usually the treadmill. You’re now going to do a 20-40minute uphill walk. In simple terms, you’re now going to use up all those FFAs you’ve just released into the bloodstream. For women especially, lyle explains, If you leave this next part out, your fat is fine to just relocate to another part of your body, preferably the lower half. As explained with the link above.
5. After the walk you should have a great sweat on but you won’t be out of breath. So here’s where my favourite bit comes into play. Lyle uses another cardio form of interval here. I like to use one of my favourite exercises, the kettlebell swing.
Awesome movement, full body, great for activating those glutes and can also teach you to sit back in the squat part. Here we use another form of interval for the typical phrase we all know, EPOC.
These intervals are going to be longer in length and not so much maximal efforts. Here I want you to do as many swings in 30seconds as you can followed by 30seconds rest. Repeat for 5minutes.
There you have it, my own take on one of lyles protocols. Feel free to use it, give me feedback but also if you’d like to know more about the science, I urge you to buy his book. It’s a great read! Ps don’t think you are too big for your boots and do this more than twice per week. This, added to training legs in the week will make recovery a very hard mission.
Overall, fat loss is a lot more in depth than people think. For all the insulinphobes out there. Insulin is not your only opponent In the fatloss fight. Think on…….