Are you doing a ton of crunches to “burn” belly fat?
Are you spending your money on products that “target” the fat around your thighs?
Or maybe you’ve got some training program that targets your “upper abs, lower abs and obliques” in order to deliver “abs of steel in 8 minutes or less”.
The excess quotation marks are there to highlight some key words that get thrown around in TV ads, fitness magazines and on the internet by people who try to push the spot- reduction idea.
Spot-reduction means doing exercises that target certain areas of your body in order to burn the fat around them.
Sounds pretty cool, right?
Well, that’s the whole idea.
Fancy words + Unreal claims + People wanting to look good= BIG MONEY!
This idea will probably never die, unless people start to open up their eyes and stop looking for shortcuts.
That’s why in this article I am going to shed some light on the topic, so that you don’t end up getting frustrated about lack of results and waste your precious time.
And as a bonus, you get to keep your money where it belongs, in your wallet that is.
Let’s begin with a quick and easy lesson in fat deposits and metabolism.
Men tend to store fat around their belly, chest and butt, while women tend to store fat around their thighs, hips and belly.
This type of fat deposit is due to testosterone in men and estrogen in women.
As for what fuels your body, the key players are glucose and fatty acids, one of the building blocks of fat.
Your body can store a limited amount of glucose. It does this by storing it in the muscles and liver as glycogen.
When those reserves are emptied, your body then starts to use fat for fuel.
This process is called lipolysis and it is regulated by hormones like cortisol, glucagon, adrenaline, testosterone, growth hormone and grelin.
These hormones bind to the fat cells and start breaking them down into glycerol and fatty acids, which will be used as an energy source.
This is a systemic process, in other words, it happens in all of your body and it’s regulated by hormones and the receptors found on the fat cells.
Now, there are some people that claim that spot reduction is effective because it increases blood flow to targeted areas, thus doing a better job a getting rid of fat.
In a way, the statement does make sense. Better blood flow could potentially mean more hormones will be transported in that area, activating the teardown of fat cells.
So it might seem like a solid idea to do crunches to send more blood to your abs.
Is it logic?
Is it effective?
Truth is, it’s highly ineffective.
Why is that, you might ask?
Doing a large number of crunches and getting that “burning” sensation doesn’t mean it’s the fat burning. It’s actually your muscles fatiguing.
In addition to that, the energy consumption is pretty low because you are using a small group of muscles.
So what can you do about it?
1. Exercise smarter, not harder
Instead of focusing on “ab, butt or arm workouts”, focus on getting stronger.
Instead of doing exercises that isolate muscle groups, start using compound movements.
Since compound movements use more muscle groups, you’ll never have to worry about targeting an area ever…again.
The energy demand will be much higher, and depending on your training plan, your body will consume more calories during and after your workout.
2. Get your nutrition in check
Nutrition is probably the most important aspect when it comes to getting rid of fat.
It’s also the place where people tend to mess things up.
You can train as hard as you want, but if your diet is broken, your abs will still lie buried deep in fat.
Here are a few key elements you can start focusing on:
- Eat a little bit less
You can start out by reducing the size of your meals or skip a few snacks during the day.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and enzymes, which are essential in metabolizing fat.
They are also rich in fiber, helping you feel full for a longer period of time.
- Eat more protein
Proteins are essential for preserving your muscle mass as you start to lose weight.
To learn more about proteins and to find out how they help you lose weight, gain muscle and reduce cravings click here.
- Eat more fats
If you believe fats are evil, then you might want to think about that again.
They are essential to your body since they are part of cell walls, they build hormones and aid vitamin absorption.
To learn more about healthy fats, click here.
- Eat better carbs
If you are serious about losing fat, try to stay away from processed carbs and liquid carbs. This means bread, pizza, pasta, French fries, sweets and soda.
Try to consume starchy carbs, like sweet potatoes, and whole grain products (bread, pasta, rice).
3. Manage sleep and stress
And finally, don’t forget to get plenty of rest. It is crucial for your body to have time to rest and recover.
Make sure you get a good night sleep, alternate your training days with rest days and take some time off to relax.
The take away here is that there is no magic pill.
I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but I wanted to tell you the truth and not sell you some new diet, gadget or some secret scientists don’t want you to know.
Getting rid of fat requires some work and it’s not a onetime fix. It implies making some changes in your habits.
The key thing is to aim for consistency and not perfection.
At first it might seem difficult, but it’s not as difficult as you might believe. I know that because I’ve been there myself, but eventually I got it figured out.
If you have any thoughts or questions, or if you are struggling with getting rid of fat, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article written by Razvan Dan Ene, MD. Razvan writes at Strength Therapy, where he helps people develop a healthy mind and body with a step by step approach. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.
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