Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Why Aren't You Losing Fat?

One of my fitness colleagues John Roman is launching his final fat loss program.

There has been a discussion going around in the fitness community about fat loss.

It seems like most fat loss programs focus on one main thing: to burn fat, you have to expend more energy than you take in.

Such a focus makes sense, of course, because if there is a universal truth to fat loss, that’s it.

This is what we call “energy balance.” In order to lose fat, you have to create what we call “energy debt” or “energy deficit” –that is, eliminate the balance and instead be on the negative side of the balance scales.

That works very well for “beginning” fat, of course. However, success doesn’t last forever.

As anyone who’s ever been on a diet and exercise program of any kind can tell you, at first it’s pretty smooth sailing. Eat less, do more, lose fat.

And then it stops—and usually, stops suddenly, as those same people can also tell you.

Of course, the first instinct people have is a very natural one: to simply do more of what was bringing them success in the first place.

So they eat even less and do even more.

And…have no results.

You see, what these people fail to realize (and what most fat loss programs fail to address) is that:

After a certain point, simple energy deficit no longer covers the tab.

It becomes more about what type of deficit. Speaking generally, you actually have to eat closer to maintenance calorie levels (instead of far below) and expend more Calories through exercise.

Even then, things don’t always happen as quickly as you want.

You see, once you’ve hit a fat loss plateau—or when you’re trying to lose the last few pounds, like I was when I was dieting for the beach house—fat loss becomes a bit less about energy balance a lot more about hormones.

Some hormones, such as leptin, actually control the majority of your general fat loss efforts and all the factors thereof: appetite, satiety, “starvation mode.” However, assuming you’re eating enough and trying to create an energy deficit through training, leptin isn’t the issue.

There are other hormones which are a bit more insidious in their effects on your physique. They don’t just determine IF you gain fat—they determine where you gain it, and whether you’re able to lose it from those areas.

Those “problem” areas on your body are there for a reason.

“Problem areas” are created by your hormonal environment, and it’s your hormones that force your body to have particular fat storage patterns.

It becomes more about what type of deficit. Speaking generally, you actually have to eat closer to maintenance calorie levels (instead of far below) and expend more Calories through exercise.

Even then, things don’t always happen as quickly as you want.

We'll discuss three most common types of regional fat storage, and the hormones that cause them.

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