The unsatisfying solution to belly fat

OK fine, let’s talk about belly fat.

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I see the question “how to lose belly fat” nearly every week on Google Trends but I’ve been avoiding it as a FART topic since it’s something with an answer that fits everyone. This week “how to lose love handles” is up 250%. Let’s get into it. One of these weeks I’m going to talk about a topic no one cares about.

The basics

Let’s get the obvious question out of the way: is it possible to spot reduce fat?

There is some evidence that topical yohimbine helps.

A new study concluded that cycling for 30 minutes following a leg workout, will localize fat loss onto the legs. This suggests that spot reduction is possible. But, it’s the only study that supports this claim.

The majority of the research on this topic says spot reduction of body fat is not possible.

No one-size-fits-all answer

The most common fitness questions are the most difficult to answer. This week’s question is the most common I hear: “how to do I lose love handles/belly/arm/thigh fat?.” It’s difficult to answer because there are so many ways to do it. The best I can tell you is “it depends.”

  • It depends on your eating habits.

  • It depends on your exercise habits.

  • It depends on your lifestyle.

  • It depends on your mentality towards food and exercise.

...and that’s just for starters.

What I can tell you is that to lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Of course, it’s not that simple, because the thing we do best is fuck up things that should be simple.

Let’s look at a few ways to lose fat:

Intermittent Fasting
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Ketogenic Diet
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Paleo
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Clean Eating
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Counting calories
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Carb Cycling
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Gastric Bypass Surgery
How it works: by eating fewer calories

Vegan Diet
How it works: by talking about being vegan and eating fewer calories

Get the idea?

Finding the best way to eat fewer calories is an ongoing process—every time I lose weight, I find a new method that works for me. I also find many methods that don’t. When I step up a diet plan for a client, it’s something I fully expect to adjust as I get to know them better. As we change and grow as people, we need to adapt our diets to match. Like it or not, food affects us much more than we’d like to believe. What worked for you 5 years ago probably won’t work today.

Ab workouts that get you ripped.

Sorry. There are none.

When we’re talking about working the rotten pumpkin shaped thing we call our core, we need to consider what its function is:

  • It aligns the spine, ribs, and pelvis.

  • It prevents you from crumbling like a bad Jenga move.

  • It keeps you from peeing your pants.

  • It helps you pop out babies easier.

For me, I value not leaking piss everywhere I go more than having a 6 pack. I also prefer to keep a strong core to make up for all the time I sit at a desk. That’s why I like to train my core with exercises that reinforce stability. I don’t care about having abs since I don’t ever have a reason to remove my shirt in public.

My general recommendation for everyone:

Dr. Stu McGill Big Three

Curl up

Side bridge

Bird dog

Do this at least 3 times per week.

One last thing

The best thing you can do if you want to lose love handles or weight around your midsection is to clean up your diet.

I often complain about how we make fitness way too complicated, but weight loss is one thing we oversimplify. Although it’s ultimately about calories in vs calories out, there are a TON of factors that influence weight loss. This is the best blanket advice I can give on the topic:

  • Get enough sleep

  • Manage your stress

  • Eat more protein and get enough dietary fat to sustain hormone balance

  • Focus on fat loss, not weight loss

  • Exercise

  • Rewards systems can be a slippery slope (cheat day turn into a cheat year, anyone?)

Question of the week.

If I get hungry, can I eat more protein?

I got this question from a client who is on a macro tracking diet.

There are a decent amount of studies on the effects of overeating protein. As it happens, one can overeat protein without any effect on body composition.

Oddly enough peanuts don’t seem to affect your body composition too much either.

So yes, if you’re dieting, and you need to eat something—have some whey or a chicken breast with a handful of Planters.


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Ryan AnastoplusComment