The Science of Stubborn Fat & What to Do About It

Posted by on

Aloha, Fat Burning Babes! 

Here are some reasons why some of our fat is so stubborn.
For most women (including me) it's on the belly. It's also the first place I gain and last place I lose.

This post is based on a conversation with a private client today. She's almost completed four weeks of her fat loss journey and her inches and fat lost in barely a month have been remarkable, especially for a woman entering menopause. She's swinging that kettlebell like nobody's business now. Although she keeps making consistent strides in losing body fat, her scale weight isn't dropping in very big numbers.

And that's perfectly fine by me.


 Because it lets us know that we're not only preserving muscle, we're gaining it. Muscle weighs more than fat. As long as her body fat % and inches off the belly and elsewhere keep dropping, I am fist pumping to heaven and high-fiving everybody. Moreover, as a woman entering menopause, one of her BIGGEST factors in preventing fat gain will be increasing lean muscle and bone density.

Here's a pic I took of 5lbs of fat vs. 10lbs of muscle at BodySpec's mobile DEXA unit at a health fair yesterday:

I'll take the 10lbs of muscle (L) over that 5lbs of fat (R) any day

Why is some fat - especially around the belly - so hard to lose?

Besides belly fat being one of the most dangerous, disease-inflicting types of fat we can carry, it can flat out make you feel awful and self-conscious.... especially during summer. Even when you believe you're doing everything "right," it clings to you like a needy co-dependent.

To strip fat a couple things need to occur:

  • Lipolysis: mobilizing fat from their fat cells via lipase, a hormone sensitive enzyme produced by the pancreas. It ignites the breakdown of fats to fatty acids to be burned for fuel. Resistance training and short, intense exercise or low intensity exercise like walking helps activate lipase, among other fat burning hormones. However, when you have insulin pumping through your veins the activation of lipase is inhibited. People who participate in high heart-rate, steady state cardio are more or less wasting their time if their goal is fat loss.  Lipase will be mainly be dormant for them.
  • Once mobilized, other cells use that liberated fat for energy, including muscle. Muscle cells are exceptional at burning up free fatty acids. Hence, more lean muscle mass = easier to burn fat.
The process of lipolysis is set off by certain chemicals called catecholamines. To keep from getting too technical and making your eyes glaze over, these catecholamines attach to receptors on your fat cells to get them to release the fat. Think of them as a fat burning S.W.A.T. team trying to break down a door.

There are two kinds of receptors on your fat cells:

  • Beta-receptors: respond well to the Fat Burning S.W.A.T. team and give up the fat to begin lipolysis.
  • Alpha-receptors: Give the finger to the Fat Burning S.W.A.T. team. Very reluctant to give up the fat in their fat cells. Usually not until the cells with the most beta receptors have been emptied.

Areas where alpha receptors exist on most women

When you begin your No Fail nutrition protocol and resistance training, the areas of your body that have fat cells with more beta receptors are where you'll see your initial progress. Normally the face, legs, chest, shoulders. The stubborn fat spots like belly, inner thighs, caboose, back of arms are going to be the last to go until we've emptied out those fat cells that have a majority of beta receptors.

This is why crash diets and those expecting quick fixes will never succeed. In fact, people who starve, calorie restrict and waste muscle with steady state cardio cause so much metabolic damage to themselves that they actually end up making their body's natural body fat set point HIGHER. This is why you often see people on yo-yo diets gain back all their weight and then pack on even more fat regardless of how much they "exercise."

It takes time to undo. A few months to a year or more. Stopping this cycle needs to be a must for you. Not a should. Don't die from a horrific metabolic lifestyle disease (diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease) because of Mañana Syndrome aka "I'll start tomorrow."

You deserve better. Make a decision today that you're taking the wheel of your life and that means your health.

We all know someone (could it be ourselves?) who crash dieted, lost a ton of scale weight, and when starvation and painful hours in the gym were no longer sustainable, it all came back tenfold. You're depressed, defeated and ashamed.

Women must add as much lean muscle onto our bodies as we can, even though muscle weighs more than fat. Especially for women entering menopause. A few years ago I was ten pounds lighter in overall scale weight but my body fat was high and unhealthy. Flab was flying everywhere. This was while I ran at least 5 miles a day on a diet of whole grains.

Today I weigh more but I've dropped six sizes. According to yesterday's DEXA I have the body fat and bone density of an athlete in their twenties (I'm 46). I workout 75% less and enjoy the empowerment, confidence and physique shape that lifting brings. It didn't start with putting on a pair of running shoes. It started with changing my mind, being sick of how I looked and felt, then taking action and committing.

So, how we do get that stubborn belly fat to go away for good?

Not to despair, Fat Burning Babes! I have a simple answer. This does not mean it's easy. But the process is rewarding, empowering and fulfilling in its own right. Even better: it can last a lifetime when you really get it.

Here it is:

1. Always make body fat loss and inches lost your measuring stick. Not the scale on its own. As I said above, the more muscle you have, the more fat you can burn (and also the more you can eat and not gain!). But muscle will weigh more than fat so we cannot be solely focused on scale weight. It has its place but we go by body fat%, inches lost, how you FEEL (physically, mentally, emotionally), how your clothes are fitting, how you're progressing in workouts, and then the scale. People will notice the confident stride in your step and the way you carry yourself proudly.





2. Listen to the signals your body sends. Fuel, rest and honor your body, mind and heart  appropriately. This is your only life (at least in this body) we're talking about. There is nothing more important than caring for it.





3. Use heavy resistance exercise in short, powerful bursts. Or, low intensity cardio like long strolls.




Thanks for reading! I hope you all, wherever in the world you are, have a safe, fun and HEALTHY week. 


android fat belly fat science of fat loss Stubborn fat

← Older Post Newer Post →

Blog of No Fail Physique Transformation for Women

12 Week Power Sculpting 3 day fast achievement aging android fat anxiety before and after before and after pictures belly fat best measurement timing bloat blog body fat percentage bone health breakfast carbs and bloat commitment coronavirus creatine creativity determination DNA DNA testing Dr. Lisa Vaughan estrogen falling off the wagon fasting fat loss Fat Loss for Wedding fat loss tips female sports injury and menstrual cycle fit over 40 free training plans for women's fat loss frequently asked questions gaining water gene testing Genes and diet glandular goal setting Handmaid's tale handmaid's tale workout happy keto body health transformation Healthful Pursuit HIIT HIIT WORKOUT How to say no how to use cardio effectively hysterectomy joey wolfe keto diet and exercise keto for women Kirin Gopal Kaur Kundalini Leanne Vogel learning lemon water lemon water and fat loss lemons lifting lithium liver bile liver health Lost 10lbs in 10 days Lower Body WOrkout masturbation Meagan Adele Lopez memory menopause menstrual cycle metabolic age misogyny morning exercise motivation muscle mass natural painkillers Natural Stacks nutrigenomics osteoporosis panic pea protein personal coaching podcast potato hack diet pre-workout Priority Checklist private coaching productivity progesterone pull ups quit quitting reader questions resistance training Resistance training for mature women resistant starch scale weight vs. body fat percentage science of fat loss staying fit after 40 Stubborn fat supplements SystemShred Tanner Batten testimonial testosterone therapeutic fasting thyroid transformation transformations understanding body composition vegan vegetarian Vitamins water water fluctuation water weight weight loss journey Weight training over 40 weightlifting and menstrual cycle why womens keto exercise womens strength training work ethic yoga