If you have not already read our guide on “Targeting Fat Loss to A Specific Area of the Body” then you may want to head over there first, since, fat loss really cannot be targeted as you might have imagined. E.g. Simply doing crunches will not lead to weight loss for the stomach.
It is important to understand how the abdomen plays a role in fat storage to help determine potential factors that make it difficult to eliminate fat in that region. In fact, it is hard to imagine any other area that is a more popular subject of late night, weight loss product infomercials.
Big Myth #1: Doing 1,000′s of crunches and sit-ups will not do anything for a person with a lot of fat on their stomach other than give that person a strong stomach. If you are overweight, you will simple end up with strong muscles hidden under a layer of fat.
The reason is, fat loss cannot simple be targeted to a single area of your body. Conversely, it can be very valuable to build stomach muscle to create muscle tone that turns an otherwise flat stomach into one with a 6-pack of abs. In other words, by building muscle in addition to other weight loss efforts can help you appear even leaner.
The abdomen is one of the most challenging areas for many people to eliminate the fat from, and one of the first areas to really show weight gain as well. Here are a few reasons why:
- Stress: Especially true for many men, as well as some women, is the fact that the abdomen is one of the first places weight gains begin to appear. Much of this is simply due to how we are built. In men, it’s so common to gain weight around that region that it has the nickname of “spare tire.” This is due in large part to the fact that when the body is stressed, it produces a hormone called cortisol, and the stomach contains as many as 5x the number of “cortisol receptors.” Not only does cortisol mess with insulin levels, make it more desirable to binge-eat,�and slow down�the metabolism, but the fact that your stomach has so many more cortisol reception makes it a much larger target for fat deposits. So, how do you solve this? Simple, these factors all help reduce cortisol levels, as well as have many other benefits not discussed here:
- reduce stress
- sleep more
- excercise regularly
- cut out more sugars/low-value carbs
- eat more frequently (smaller meals of course)
- cut the caffine! A single cup of coffee can raise cortisol levels by 30% in a single hour, and leave a person with elevated cortisol levels for up to 18 hours.
- Carbohydrate intolerance: High levels of fat in the upper back (subscapularis) as well as high insulin levels, can be an indication of carbohydrate (or glucose) intolerance. Excessive consumption of fructose (fruit sugar that is found as a sweetener in most sugary products today) can also contribute greatly to abdominal obesity.
- Other unlikely/minor factors: Maternal smoking, Cushing’s syndrome, estrogenic compounds in the diet (e.g. soy), as well as endocrine disrupting chemicals, and�a few obscure medical�causes�can also contribute to abdominal obesity.
- Non-related factors & misconceptions: Sometimes what appears to be adominal fat may in fact not be fat at all. For example, many post-pregnancy women often have their stomach protruding a bit, but quite often this is due to the abdominal wall having been stretched out, as well as loss of skin elasticity. In some cases, this can be remedied via excercise, while in extreme cases, surgery may be the best option.
For most people, cutting back on foods high in sugar, or even carbs for that matter, in combination with a good weight loss plan, should be able to help seriously reduce or even eliminate most stomach fat.