There is a common belief that exercising a particular area of the body will cause the fat in that area to decrease. I hear it all the time from my clients, “I want to lose fat here, I want to gain muscle there, and so on”. The most widely held example is doing sit-ups to eliminate abdominal fat. Different products tout their ability to give you chiseled abs and “simply” melt away the fat that lives above those muscles. Let me ask you, “if it were that easy wouldn’t everyone in the world have Spartan-like abs?”. So, is it possible to spot reduce, to lose fat from certain areas of the body?
The short answer, unfortunately, is no. We have been made to believe that we can, but spot reduction is a myth.
In reality, genetics plays a major role in the amount of body fat you have, where it is stored, and subsequently from where it will be eliminated. That being said, diet and exercise can turn your fat loss and muscle gain into your favor. Higher intensity, compound movement exercise will send your body into fat blasting mode. The harder you work, the more muscle you work per exercise, the more calories you will burn per workout. Also, the more muscle you build, the more fat you will burn even at rest.
While exercise and muscle-building is vital to weight loss, diet and nutrition are what will make or break your fat loss capabilities. Fat does not turn to fat or vise versa, they are two completely different tissue types. Muscle sits below fat, so unless the size of the fat cells shrink, the muscle beneath will never show. You can do sit ups 24 hours a day and your abs will never show. In fact adding extra muscle without losing fat will actually make you look bigger. Nutrition is key to making that muscle pop. You must first find out how many calories you need per day (http://wp.me/p2EnqQ-a) to start losing weight. Next, you have to be honest with yourself…”how much alcohol do I drink?”. Even if your diet is clean, you are exercising 3-5/week, and doing your cardio, nothing will derail your fat loss efforts like drinking too much alcohol (defined as 1-2 drinks/day). The amount of sugar in alcohol, along with the way it is metabolized in the liver, is a deadly 1-2 punch for holding onto belly fat. If you drink more than the RDA, it may be time to reduce your consumption, this truly will help you eliminate that fat.
Finding this proper mix of calories, along with increasing your exercise intensity will turn on your fat burning furnace. Once it is turned on, you just have to keep fanning the flame to keep the fire hot. The fat will leave from where it wants, but the more you work, and the better you eat you will discover that the fat not only left from where you wanted it to, but also from parts of your body you never expected.