Lifestyle

Thiel: No way to target one body part for weight loss

I have had many of my patients ask what is the best way they can lose their belly flab.

There is a common misconception with the ideology of spot reduction, this is where one can lose weight on one specific part of their body by doing specific exercises.

Some people think that if they do abdominal crunches or sit-ups, then they can lose their winter layer.  This simply is not true.  Though it will result in increased muscular tone to that area, the amount of superficial and intra-abdominal fat will not be altered in any way.  It is virtually impossible to take one area of the body, train that muscle, and convert the surrounding fat into muscle tissue or target that area for fat reduction.

Excess fat deposition is largely influenced by hormones.  Men and women have different concentrations of hormones, that is why men store fat differently than women.  Males tend to store their excess fat on their bellies and flanks.  This is largely the result of the presence of testosterone.

Women will tend to deposit fat on their derrière and legs.  This is due, in large part, to the presence of estrogen. In essence, the way we deposit our excess weight is physiologically predetermined by our gender.

It is important to note that the majority of a beer belly, also known as the Battle of the Bulge, is due to the deposition of fat that is considered intra-abdominal.  This is the fat that it is around our organs and viscera, not so much the fat just underneath our skin.  There have been many studies that have looked at the deleterious effects of intra-abdominal fat.  One such study said that excess intra-abdominal fat results in a higher probability of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and coronary artery disease.  This is an important thing to remember.

So how do we lose the belly?  Well, clearly no such thing as spot reduction exists, so that leaves us with the old-time method of proper food selection, diet and exercise.  One trend that I have seen in many of my patients over the last few years is the removal of wheat products from their diet.  In these patients, I have seen the profound and consistent loss of excess weight.

A popular book entitled Wheat Belly, written by a cardiologist, it is a good resource for this way of thinking.  He is well referenced in the book is very well researched.

In addition to removing wheat from your diet, I suggest a diet of vegetables, fruit, lean meats and fish and avoidance of complex or starchy carbohydrates.  Stay away from juices and syrupy drinks.  This should all be done in conjunction with a regular exercise routine consisting of at least three times a week for duration of 30 minutes.  I can be as simple as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi etc.

Just make it part of your routine.  This routine will mobilize free fatty acids and reduce your fat stores over all.  The difference will be measured in inches, not pounds.  As you burn fat and increase muscle mass you may find that your weight stays largely the same.  This is because muscle is heavier then fat.  You will find that you will be burning fat and putting on more muscle mass with little change in overall weight.

This recipe for success needs to be spiced with patience.  Allow six weeks before the beginning of change to be noticed.  On average, for the 35-year-old or older, it takes this long for your physiology to shift from storing fat to burning it.

Good luck in your quest for the summer body that you deserve.  My mother used to say that you can live with the pain of discipline or disappointment.  Each has an entirely different outcome.

 

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