Are you struggling to burn off that last bit of stubborn belly fat? Here’s what you need to know about stubborn fat and how to lose it once and for all
Are you trying to get rid of that last bit of fat?
You know… that pesky bit of fat on your lower tummy? The annoying jelly jiggle on your inner thighs? The gelatinous googly-goo on your lower back?
Don't worry. You're not alone...
Very few people lose weight and continue making progress all the way to their end goal.
What usually happens is they reach a point down the line where, no matter how hard they work, they struggling to get the last 10-20lbs off. What's worse is it's typically smack dab in the middle of their stomach... right where they DON'T want it!
That unwanted belly sag is what we fitness folk call, "Stubborn Fat," and this article, you’ll learn:
- Does Stubborn Belly Fat Actually Exist?
- Common Myths About Burning Stubborn Belly Fat That Keeping You Plateaued
- A Simple 5-Step Plan For Eliminating Stubborn Belly Fat Once and For All
But before I get too far into all of that, I want to introduce you to one of my clients, Whitney:
When Whitney and I started working together, she already knew a lot about tracking her nutrition and working out in the gym. Despite her knowledge, she continually struggled with getting rid of the extra fat from around her upper legs & midsection.
After working together for a few months, she was finally able to break through her long-standing weight loss plateau.
More than that, she also got rid of her stubborn belly fat (finally!) and achieved the lean & toned look see’s always wanted.
Now, you might be wondering why deciding to work with ME helped her get past her sticking point...
Did I put her on a super-secret belly fat burning diet plan? Am I some Fat-Burning Wizard who can magically target and eliminate belly fat stores?
Unfortunately, no… but man, being a Fat-Burning Wizard would be gnarly, wouldn’t it?
The truth is that there’s no magic to getting rid of stubborn fat on your belly, thighs, butt, etc...
In fact, it comes down to just a few very simple (but VERY important) diet, exercise, and mindset strategies.
We'll be getting into those strategies here soon...
First, we need to quickly talk about what stubborn fat is, and if it actually exists?
Does Stubborn Belly Fat Actually Exist?
The fact you’re reading this article shows you’re determined to figure out the solution to your belly fat woes.
(Which is awesome, go YOU! 🤜💥🤛)
But in regards to actually getting rid of stubborn fat, there's heaps of gibberish and poppycock advice floating around the weight loss community...
Detox cleanses, body wraps, fat-burning foods, clean vs. dirty foods, demonizing saturated fat, calling sugar "toxic" ☠️…
99% of it is total garbage. Just a bunch of theoretical mumbo-jumbo and polarizing views of research to feed a pre-existing bias or agenda.
So when you hear the term, "Stubborn Belly Fat," it sounds like something that should send your FAD Diet Bullshit Detector readings off the charts!
Seems like a mighty fine way to market a few crappy products and pills supposedly designed to "fight" and "target" stubborn belly fat, doesn't it?
But while there's no special pill or remedy to burn belly fat directly (we'll talk about this more in the myths section), it doesn't rule out the actual existence of stubborn belly fat...
In fact, Stubborn fat DOES exist (proof )
But I don't want to bore you with all the science-y jargon... we'll leave that for the guys & gals in lab coats tinkering with Bunsen burners & Calorimeters…
Instead, here's a quick bullet-point outline of what you need to know about burning fat, and why some fat is harder to lose than others:
▶️ "Burning Fat" is a two-step process that includes breaking down fat stores for energy (lipolysis), which is then sent to your cells to use for different bodily functions (oxidation)
▶️ For lipolysis (breakdown of fat cells) to occur, your body sends out chemicals known as "catecholamines," which attach to fat cell receptors—essentially acting as a lock & key to open them up 🔐
▶️ There are TWO types or receptors on your fat cells—Alpha- & Beta-Receptors. The difference you need to know is that beta-receptors accelerate lipolysis and fat burning whereas alpha-receptors slow it down.
Now, here's where the term "stubborn fat" comes into the equation
You see, normal fat cells have a high amount of beta-receptors which, as we just learned, encourage fat burning...
Stubborn fat cells, on the other hand, contain a higher ratio of alpha- to beta-receptors, making it MUCH harder to burn fat.
Which areas tend to have more stubborn alpha-receptor fat cells? You guessed it...
The belly, butt, and thighs...
For guys, it's common to see stubborn fat in the belly, lower back, and chest. Women tend to deal with it more in their belly, thighs, and upper legs.
Now that you have a better understanding of WHY stubborn body fat exists, it's time we destroy a few myths about getting rid of stubborn fat, and body fat in general.
Once you’ve erased these myths from your working memory, we'll be able to focus on strategies that actually get rid of stubborn belly fat once and for all!
2 Common Myths About Stubborn Belly Fat That Only Making Losing It Harder
Now, there are certainly more than two myths floating around regarding methods for losing stubborn belly fat, but of all the confusion & delusion, these TWO myths seem to trick people the most…
Myth #1 - You Can Target Fat With Specific Exercises
When the average Joe or Jane wants to lose fat from their belly, what’s the first thing they do?
It usually has something to do with endless crunches for hours each day...
Which makes sense intuitively. If you want to burn the fat off a particular problem area, then it would seem that exercising that area and feeling a “burn” would be the solution, right?
The reality, though, is that fat loss doesn’t work that way...
You CANNOT target fat loss with specific exercises. (source)
There’s no crunch variation to target your lower belly, no arm extension to demolish underarm jiggle, and no thigh-adduction/abduction machine that’s going to melt fat from your inner-thighs...
The only way to lose fat from a stubborn area is to lose weight in general. To do that, you need to be consistently eating in calorie deficit over time. (more on this in the 5-Step Plan section)
It's not that losing stubborn belly fat is impossible. Rather, it just takes more time and patience to lose than regular fat.
Myth #2 - All That Matters For Fat Loss Is “Eating less & Moving More”
One the other end of the spectrum, some people buy into the belief that the only thing that matters for losing weight is energy in vs. energy out… and they’re right.
To “lose weight,” you just need to use some combination of eating fewer calories from food and/or burning more calories from exercise to achieve a calorie deficit for weight loss.
But simply “losing weight” isn’t the goal for most people…
When people talk about wanting to lose weight, what they really mean is they want to lose FAT.
You see, you'll lose weight if you eat less and move more... but that doesn’t guarantee the weight you’re losing is coming exclusively from fat.
If you’re creating a calorie deficit through crash dieting and chronic cardio, chances are you’re losing a lot of lean muscle weight too…
Now, there's no debating the importance of eating fewer calories for weight loss. Thousands of studies and hundreds of years of metabolic research has shown that losing weight comes down the being in a calorie deficit. (proof)
But there's a balance that needs to be had between eating few enough calories to lose weight and ALSO eating enough so that you don't lose muscle tissue unnecessarily.
And trust me when I say that muscle loss is the ABSOLUTE LAST THING you want to happen while dieting...
There are a plethora of health benefits for having lean muscle including stronger bones, better nutrition partitioning, better physical function, etc…
For the purpose of losing stubborn fat, the benefit we are most concerned with is the metabolism-boosting effects that come with having more lean muscle.
So, yes, "eat less, move more" is what needs to happen on paper, but the details of HOW you're eating less and moving more are important too!
(Don't worry - we'll go over these details and actionable strategies in the 5-Step Plan section 🙂)
So... Where Do We Go From Here? (Bad, Better, & Good News)
I have bad news, better news, and finally good news for your stubborn fat loss endeavors. I always liked hearing the bad news first, so I'll start there...
😕 The BAD News: beyond getting liposuction or using steroids, there’s not much you can do to accelerate fast loss from stubborn belly fat.
🙂 The BETTER News: losing stubborn fat isn’t impossible! It just requires more effort and patience than most people are willing to commit. (except you... you got this!)
😁 The GOOD News: For the remainder of this article, I’m going to outline a 5-Step Plan that’ll help you lose stubborn body fat once and for all!
It's not a quick-fix solution, but if you follow the strategies and advice in this next section with consistency, I guarantee it'll help you dial in your diet and exercise to promote fat loss & muscle gain—the "golden ticket combo" for losing stubborn belly fat!
5-Step Plan For Eliminating Stubborn Belly Fat & Keeping It Off For Good
1. Find & Stick To a Moderate Calorie Deficit
Here's what we know as a collective group of rambunctious fitness geeks:
- You NEED to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight and stubborn belly fat.
- You don't want to be too aggressive with your deficit as it could lead to muscle loss.
- Losing stubborn belly fat takes time, so your calorie deficit needs to be in a range that allows you to stay consistent.
Knowing those three things, I recommend a moderate calorie deficit of around ~25%.
If you're very overweight (250+ pounds), you can probably get away with a~30% deficit.
Any more restrictive and you'll just end up exacerbating many of the negative symptoms of dieting such as increased hunger, low energy, stress, and moodiness...
If you need help finding your calorie deficit, check out the article linked below!
Do You Know Your Calorie Needs For Weight Loss?
2. Ensure You’re Eating Plenty of Protein, Fiber, and Micronutrients
Protein, fiber, and micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) are essential components of a healthy and successful fat loss diet.
▶️ First, there's protein. I won’t go into the specific benefits of protein in this article as I’ve already written about protein and fat loss in the past. For now, just know that having an adequate will optimize your ability to build/retain lean muscle and stay fuller longer.
I recommend getting .7-1g of protein per POUND of goal bodyweight. You can eat more if you want, but there’s not much benefit for going over these recommendations.
▶️ Fiber helps you stay full and promotes digestive health. I recommend setting ~25g per day as a minimum target, or 14g of fiber for every 1000 cals
▶️ Micronutrients (aka Vitamins & Minerals) come in “micro” amounts from our diet. Unlike our three macronutrients, there are a LOT of different vitamins and minerals in our food...
The good news, though, is that you don't need to track your micronutrients as long as you're eating healthy foods the majority of the time.
I use the Rule of 80/20:
As long as 80% of your calories are coming from micronutrient-dense whole foods like veggies, fruits, meat, eggs, dairy, grains, potatoes, & starches...
Then it's TOTES okay for 20% to come from less nutritious foods like candy, cookies, donuts, and ice cream.
Not Losing Weight Despite Eating Healthy?
#3 - Increase Your Daily Exercise (make it easy with “Activity Breaks")
A lot of people blame their stubborn belly fat on having a slow metabolism.
But here’s the thing…
While it's absolutely possible that you have a slower metabolism, 90% of the time it’s because of things that are within your control.
You see, your metabolism refers to ALL of the energy you expend during the day from both your bodily functions & your physical activity.
So when someone comes to me with a slow metabolism, it’s usually because the “physical activity” side of the equation is out of whack...
We live in a world where it’s super easy to be sedentary.
We sit on our morning commute...
Sit during work...
Sit on our way home...
—maybe work out for 60 minutes—
And then we usually sit for the rest of the evening.
Cardio can help, but after a while, it can become monotonous and lead to unnecessary stress while dieting.
That’s why I recommend using “activity breaks” to boost your daily calorie expenditure.
For example, instead of walking on a treadmill for 60-75 minutes in one big session, you would split that same walking time over 4-5 mini activity break sessions...
My daily activity breaks schedule usually looks something like this:
1️⃣ Morning Walk after waking up - 20 mins
2️⃣ Post-Lunch Stroll - 15 mins
3️⃣ "Workout Walking Sandwich" - 10 mins before & after your strength training workout
4️⃣ Evening Medication - 20-30 minutes of walking while listening to a podcast/audiobook
As you can see, I’m able to piece together 75-85 minutes of walking throughout the day without having to bore myself with one long & tiring session.
Heck, walking can even be rejuvenating when it's used in small bouts throughout the day. I use activity breaks to clear my mind so I can go back to work more focused.
4. Start Lifting Things That Are HEAVY!
Building lean muscle is going to be one of the best ways to improve your ability to do get rid of stubborn belly fat.
In order to build lean muscle effectively, though, you need to utilize resistance exercise - specifically strength training.
Similar to protein, I’ve written about the benefits of lifting weights for fat loss in a previous post...
For the purpose of this article, just know that the more muscle you have, the easier it'll be to lose fat.
When it comes to building muscle, strength training, weightlifting, and picking up HEAVY things are the best ways to go about building lean muscle.
(just don’t lift TOO heavy and hurt yourself! Form is important too 🙂)
5. Embrace Your Inner Frodo (aka the Journeyer's Mentality)
Now it’s time to talk about the less sexy side of losing stubborn belly fat...
The reality that achieving your goal body takes TIME.
Not only does it take time... you have to be consistently putting in effort each day, even when your progress isn't moving as quickly as you'd hope for...
Losing Weight is sort of like Lord of the Rings
Think back to when Frodo arrived at Rivendell with “the one ring to rule them all..."
At first, Frodo thought that his journey was over, but he quickly realized that, in order to destroy the ring for good, HE was going to have to be the one who stepped up and took responsibility.
As the ring bearer, it was his burden to take the ring to Mount Doom and drop it in the fire...
In this analogy, your “ring to bear” is stubborn fat and achieving the body of your dreams.
Of course, losing fat won't require you venture to Mordor to save the world from Sauron and evil...
But that doesn’t mean it'll be easy!
Losing weight takes hard work, especially when you’re dabbling in the dark arts of riding stubborn fat...but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
You just need to embrace your inner Frodo & adopt a Journeyer’s Mentality.
Here's the tough-love reality of losing weight...
If you're making irrational or drastic changes to your diet and exercise in hopes for a quick-fix, you've already lost.
Maybe it'll be two weeks, two months, or even a year, but there will eventually come a time when you fall back into your old unhealthy diet and exercise routines...
That's why you're better of focusing your attention and effort on building healthy habits & making changes that you enjoy and feel good doing.
Sure, results may be slower from the start, but you'll more than make up for it in the long run.
The Bottom Line on stubborn belly fats:
There's no special exercise, diet, wrap, pill, breathing technique, or cream that's going to magically rid your body of stubborn body fat...
The ONLY way to lose stubborn fat (and keep it off) is to continue losing weight slowly, build lean muscle, and be patient throughout the entire process.
Want Help Building an Effective Weight Loss & Fitness Plan? (that you can actually stick to in the long-term!)
I create my 14-day course, Fat Loss Forever, with on goal in mind:
Create a plan to help people lose fat and build lean muscle using diet and exercise strategies that are enjoyable & sustainable...
That way, they'll not only lose weight in the short-term, but they'll actually be able to maintain their success forever!
As we've talked about today, losing stubborn body fat isn't about following some fancy diet or exercise routine... it's about having patience and consistency with what you want to achieve—which is EXACTLY what my course sets out to teach.
The best part? The course is 100% free, and enrolling is incredibly simple.
All you need to do is click the button below, join the course using your email, and you'll receive your first lesson within minutes of signing up!