If you want to get rid of that last bit of body fat that just WILL NOT budge then there's a few things you need to understand. First of all it can be done - it's just tougher. In fact the fat we're talking about is a lot more resilient than fat on other areas of your body. You most likely know the fat I'm talking about. On girls its that fat around the bum, hips and thighs. On guys its those dreaded love handles that we want to shift. First of all here's a VERY basic low down of how fat is burned by the body.
THE FAT BURNING PROCESS
Fat is stored in our body in fat cells and in order for it to be burnt it needs to be released from these cells. We call this process lipolysis. Once released from the cell the fat has to get into another cell in order for fat burning to occur, this process is called oxidation. Something called insulin sensitivity plays a part here. Insulin is a storage hormone meaning it regulates which energy is used by the body and which energy is stored in the body. These stubborn fat cells are MORE insulin sensitive than other fat cells, meaning they store more fat and release less of it for oxidation (fat burning). This fat is kind of 'stuck' in those cells and not as readily burnt for energy as fat in other areas of the body - hence that build up of unwanted fat in those stubborn areas.
One other important point....
You may have heard of this already. When we talk about spot reduction we're talking about targeting fat in a certain area of the body by exercising that particular part of the body directly. A lot of people argue that it is a total myth and does not work. They are kind of correct. Research has shown that although spot reduction does work and is a thing, it happens on such a small scale that it just isn't noticeable or worth pursuing. Imagine wanting to clear a beach of sand and just removing one or two buckets - that's the level we're talking.
BUT don't despair - you can still get rid of that unwanted body fat. You need to be making it harder for the fat cells in your body to cling on to that stored fat. Here's a few things you need to start doing....
1. Calorie Deficit
In order for any type of weight loss to occur you need to be working in a calorie deficit. This means you should be eating LESS calories than you burn each day. Aim for around 25% less calories than your calorie maintenance level. If your maintenance level is 2000 kcal a day then aim to stay under 1500 kcal for example. Use a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal to calculate and track your calories and stick at it. It may take a bit of time to gradually reduce your calories if necessary so don't necessarily try and immediately drop them down.
If your goal is to build muscle but you want to reduce your body fat then sadly you have to accept you may lose some size. Your body can't gain weight and lose weight at the same time. What you can do is try and preserve as much muscle as possible whilst stripping that excess fat. Continue resistance training and follow a programme designed around hypertrophy, also try a supplement like HMB which is ideal for preventing muscle tissue breakdown.
2. Weight Train
Far too many people (guys and girls) focus on just wanting to lose weight. This leaves people with that strange 'skinny fat' look where all they've done is burn fat AND muscle through diet and constant cardio. Your goal should be to get lean and build a better body, not just by losing fat but by retaining muscle so that you have some shape to your body. Heavy weight training is a great way to do this and wether you're a guy or a girl, by making your main focus to get strong with some big lifts is a big factor in getting rid of that stubborn fat.
Lifting weights is important but so is cardio, in particular HIIT style cardio. It involves short bursts of maximum intensity exercise followed by short rest periods for multiple rounds. More on HIIT HERE.
Research has shown that 20 minutes of HIIT training burns as much fat as 60 minutes of standard cardio. It also increases the ability and speed at which your body burns fat for up to 24 hours after training. It's also a great way to preserve muscle whilst burning fat so plenty of reasons to get it done!
Make protein a priority in your diet and you're on to a winner. Try and make it the bigger portion of your main meals as much as possible and aim for lean choices like turkey, chicken and fish. Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer than fat and carbs and actually increases overall energy expenditure in your body. It also helps your muscles recover and repair after those tough weights or HIIT sessions that you're now going to start doing.
How much protein? Aim for around 0.8g - 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight for optimum results.
I've left this one to last as I feel it's the least important and least essential. There is no magic pill that will completely get rid of your body fat. BUT some supplements can help the process along slightly when combined with an adequate diet and exercise programme. They are designed to supplement your lifestyle - not become a major factor of it. Based on my own experiences and those of my clients there's a couple that might help you along a little:
Green Tea Extract - it's high in antioxidants and can help boost thermogenesis, this is the process that your body uses to burns calories to digest food and produce heat. Getting enough cups of it to be effective can be tricky though, so one green tea supplement a day packs the equivalent of up to 10 cups of green tea!
Caffeine - can speed up your metabolism which increases the amount of calories you burn. Also a natural stimulant to help your energy levels when doing cardio. It can also give your muscular strength and endurance a boost when training so try a supplement prior to training. You should aim for one that gives you no more than 300mg per day.