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How to lose stubborn fat. The age-old question. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be called stubborn fat! Whether it’s love handles on your hips, a little belly paunch, or bulges around your butt that is holding on for dear life, some fat can be much harder to get rid of, no matter how healthy your diet or how much you work out.

Frustrating as it is, it’s not just you. These hard to rid areas of fat are common in men and women alike, although they are typically experienced in different areas of the body. For women, it tends to be the lower body that is prone to stubborn fat, whereas for men it’s around the midriff. This type of fat is so hard to shift because it is physiologically different from regular fat, and doesn’t necessarily respond in the same way through diet and exercise. We cover more on this topic in our post, 5 Facts you Need to Know About Stubborn Fat.

Fat is burned when the amount of energy expended from the body through exercise exceeds that which is taken into the body in the form of food. After eating—and the body has absorbed the food’s nutrients—insulin levels will start to decline signally to the body that the energy from the meal is running low. The body shifts to burning fat stores to meet its energy needs. In order to burn fat, it must first be released from a fat cell, and one of the reasons that stubborn fat is so hard to get rid of is that it releases its fat more slowly than non-stubborn fat.

Despite the fact that this type of fat is harder to get rid of, it’s natural that we still want to know how to lose fat so that we can look our best. These are some tips that will help you eliminate that frustrating fat once and for all! Keep in mind, however, everybody is different and the way your body stores and loses fat is unique to you.

1. Accept that your behaviors must adjust.

First and foremost, you cannot lose weight without a change in your current status-quo. Whether you’re gaining weight or maintaining, your current behaviors are not leading to weight or fat loss. Therefore accepting that you will need to make some changes is step one, and it’s a mental step. You probably won’t be able to enjoy a weekly happy hour that includes alcohol and appies. You might have to introduce more exercise into your diet. Essentially, you will have to start being more aware of the decisions you make. If you are unwilling to make changes to your current behavior, you’ve failed before you’ve even started.

2. Build lean muscle

To lose stubborn fat, you have to lose fat overall. One of the best ways to lose fat is to build lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the easier it’ll be to lose fat, due to the metabolism-boosting effects that come with having more lean muscle. In addition, with leaner muscle, you’ll benefit from stronger bones, better nutrition, better physical function and much more.

  • Maintain a moderate calorie deficit

To lose fat you should create a moderate deficit in your caloric intake vs output.

This means no crash diets and no extreme calorie deficits, otherwise, you’ll lose weight, but it will come from losing lean muscle as well as fat. Extreme diets are also impossible to sustain and losing stubborn fat takes time. Consistency is key.

Tracking your calories is important when trying to maintain a calorie deficit. It’s all too easy to rack up your calorie count by nibbling at something here or taking a mouthful of something there. In order to know—rather than guess—what your body is taking in, you need to track calories. Part of this is reading nutritional labels. This might be a new behavior for you, but, as outlined in point #1 above, to lose fat, you need to accept that changes must be made.

To lose a pound of fat, you must consume 3500 fewer calories than you currently do, which works out to about 500 few calories a day for a week.

Keep in mind, however, that the goal here is to lose fat and build lean muscle, so you need to eat a good balance of foods. You can’t eat a slice of chocolate cake per day at 1200 calories, burn 1300 calories, and expect to build muscle. Sure, you’ll lose weight but that’s not muscle building food.

  • Eat a good balance of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats

Eating adequate protein optimizes your ability to build and retain lean muscle as muscle burns more calories than fat tissue. Protein also helps you feel full for longer, so incorporate lean protein into every meal to make sure those muscles and cells are properly fueled. Use the rough guide of 0.5-1g of protein per pound of goal body weight.

Fibrous foods like whole-grain breads, oats, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and chia seeds help slow your digestion and will fill you up more than foods high in refined carbs and sugar. Fiber is also good for lowering cholesterol, reducing bloating, and avoiding constipation.

Vitamins and minerals are present in most foods, so as long as the majority of your calories are coming from whole foods like vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, dairy, grains, potatoes, and starches, you don’t need to worry about whether or not you are getting enough.

If you want to lose fat, you have to eat fat…but only the right kind. Healthy fats in a meal (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) can help you feel more satisfied with your meals. Healthy fats are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, avocados, fatty fish, and eggs, and, when consumed in moderation, provide a variety of health benefits.

3. Increase your daily exercise

Walking every day is a simple way to start getting daily exercise if you don’t already have an established exercise routine. Even if it’s only five minutes a day to start with, that’s five minutes more than you were doing before. Start small, and increase the amount you walk by 1-2 minutes a day. It won’t be long until you are walking an hour a day and burning significant calories.

4. Lift more weights (or just heavy things!)

Regular weight lifting builds lean muscle tissue which helps boost your metabolism for better fat burn. You don’t have to be a member of a gym to lift weights, you can easily do it in the comfort of your own home. Either purchase your own weights or simply find something heavy to lift! Proper form is important to make sure you aren’t damaging your body, especially your back, so make sure you know what you are doing. Larger muscles burn the most calories so give your fat burn a kick start by focusing on larger muscles, like those in the legs or buttocks. Eventually, incorporate all muscle groups. Start lifting weights at least two days per week and work up from there.

5. Get enough sleep

Our final tip is important in all facets of life, not just when trying to burn fat. Getting enough sleep is vital and impacts all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood.

When seeking to better understand how to lose stubborn fat, a study compared two groups of overweight non-smokers on calorie-restricted diets for 14 days. One group slept for 8.5 hours per night, and the other for 5.5 hours per night.  At the end of the study, the people who got more sleep lost more fat than the group who had less. People literally burned fat while they slept. With less sleep, the body seeks to meet the increased metabolic needs of longer waking hours by burning fewer calories and less fat.

With these five tips you will have a better understanding of how to lose fat. When it comes to your particular fat loss journey, it’s important to remain patient as changing habits takes time and hard work. Hard doesn’t mean impossible, however. Keep your expectations realistic, and know that small, maintainable changes are better at first rather than drastic changes to your diet or fitness routine that just won’t be sustainable. Eventually, you will fall back into your old unhealthy diet and exercise routines. Instead, focus on creating healthy habits and making lifestyle changes to build lean muscle while ensuring you are still enjoying your life.

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