We all have that one spot that we want to lose a little more from.
Sometimes it’s belly fat.
Other times, it’s love handles.
If only there was a way to zoom in and focus on fat loss in that ONE area.
The idea of targeting a specific area on our bodies for weight loss, definition, or muscle building isn’t a new concept. People have been trying to do it for decades. Every time you turn on late night television, you’re sure to catch an infomercial about the latest and greatest product that can zap fat in a particular spot.
Most often, the belly is the target for spot reduction. Whether you’re a mom trying to lose baby fat or a weight lifter trying to get more shredded, no one wants fat to be in the front where everyone can see it. So the question is this:
“Can I do anything to target my belly fat only?”
Let’s take a look at the science behind spot reduction to see if it’s possible to get rid of your belly fat.
The concept behind spot reduction that many people hold near and dear is to perform specific exercises to target the fat in your belly. Many people believe that by doing these exercises over and over again, the fat is then shaken up and your body can use it since that’s where all the work is occurring.
For example, by performing 500 abdominal crunches followed by 200 leg lifts, your body realizes that you’re sending a message to use that area for fuel, focusing, of course, on fat. Sure, that’s a great idea; however, the problem here is that fat doesn’t work that way.
When your body stores fat, it does so in the form of triglycerides. (Don’t worry, I won’t be using crazy scientific terms so stay with me on this one.)
Now, you want your body to begin burning those triglycerides as fuel through the working muscles to reduce the fat in the targeted area. Yes, muscles can burn fat as fuel; however, NOT in the form of triglycerides. Those triglycerides must be broken down into a usable form of fuel. Think about it like this:
You own a cellphone.
Your cellphone needs to be charged in order to work.
You need electricity in order to charge your cell phone.
You plug in your cell phone to charge it.
You don’t walk over to the electric company and throw your phone into the power-lines.
An exaggerated example, of course, but one that paints the picture. Your body needs to convert triglycerides into a form of energy that your muscles can safely and effectively use.
Let’s say your body gets the cue that it’s time to get fueled up and it’s essential to use fat. Your body will take those triglycerides and break them down into two components:
These two compounds are the fuel that you’ve been wanting your muscles to consume, which they will happily do.
Now you have your usable fat energy and everything will be fine, right?
Not so fast.
There are two problems we need to discuss with using fat as fuel and spot reduction.
The biggest misconception when it comes to spot reduction is that you automatically enter a fat burning state when you exercise.
It isn’t always this simple. If you just consumed a meal heavy in carbohydrates, for example, then your body will focus on that as fuel, not stored body fat. Before your body can start breaking down triglycerides, you need to enter a fat burning state. The best way to do this is to enter a state of ketosis.
In short, the way to enter a ketogenic state is to focus the majority of your macronutrients on heathy fats and protein with very little to no carbohydrates. Once your body realizes there are no carbohydrates to use as fuel, it will turn towards the body fat and enter the process we detailed above.
Let’s say that, theoretically, you’ve achieved a perfect state of ketosis and your body has entered a high-powered fat burning state. You hit the gym, ready to crush your workout, and blast away that belly fat. All you need to do is that ab workout and your body will start to target your stomach. You’ll have that six-pack in no time, right?
Again, don’t be so quick to assume.
The biggest catch of spot reduction and, consequently, the reason it just isn’t possible is that your body has a genetic pre-disposition for fat storage and disposal. In other words, you didn’t tell your body where to put the fat when you gained it and you’re not going to tell it where to remove it when you start burning it away.
You may enter a state of effective fat burning but that doesn’t mean your body will burn the fat from only your stomach. Your body will breakdown fat throughout the body. Eventually, it will get to your stomach.
While it isn’t possible to spot reduce, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The idea is to focus on total body fat loss. Not only is this a more realistic and healthy approach but it’s also one that will benefit your overall appearance and wellness.
It is important to train and exercise your body as one functioning unit. Unless you’re a bodybuilder, you shouldn’t be worried about isolation.
Do you have your own fat burning tricks?
Did you undergo a dramatic transformation where you burned a lot of body fat?
Let us know in the comments below!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen the word keto plastered all over magazines, websites, and supplements. Short for ketogenic, this diet craze is sweeping over the nation and with...
Turn on any fitness infomercial or flip open any health magazine and you’ll notice a common trend: high intensity exercise. The days of the slow-moving treadmill are long gone and high intensity exercise is here to stay. Backed by scientific...
When it comes to weight loss, the LAST thing that women think about is going near the dumbbells and barbells. Traditional strength training programs that use iron clad resistance have long been associated with bodybuilders, power lifters, and all things muscle-related....
When you think about the ideal training time, you can’t help but picture that washed-up boxer who wakes up before the sun rises. He drinks his shake and he hits the pavement, despite the temperature showing below freezing. The morning...
How are your weight loss goals coming along? Did you reach your goal weight before beach season started? Or are you still on your way to success? It may be Summer but make no mistake about it: people are still...
Pick up any issue of a popular health and fitness magazine and I guarantee that you’re going to see an exercise featured that is guaranteed to blast away fat and build muscle. Funny thing is that the following month, they...
Every year, the fitness industry rolls out the newest set of exercise clothes. Some boost performance, others help with weight loss… or so they say. There’s a reason that you rarely see the same exercise clothing trends around two years...
The rise and fall of trends in the fitness industry is like the passing of the seasons. Each year, some new diet or fad explodes all over the news and social media promising big results in a short amount of...
We’ve all been there: Stepping out of the gym or exercise class covered from head to toe in sweat. We walk back to our cars feeling great. For many of us, that walk back to the car seems a lot...
The flu is an illness so annoying that it strikes in the winter then makes another surprise visit to many during the summer. For children and the elderly, the flu isn’t just a week with the sniffles, it can be...
You had a rough week at work and so you decide to follow-up with a wild night to forget the memos and e-mail task lists. Maybe you have one too many and wake up the following morning holding on to...