You’ve been doing all the right things to lose weight, dieting, doing aerobic exercise, and weight training. You’ve added some meditative practices to your routine to reduce stress. And you’ve lost weight. But there are still some areas on your body where stubborn body fat is lurking. Probably around your butt, thighs, love handles, and belly. Sound familiar? Well, don’t worry. That’s just stubborn fat– and it can be conquered. But before we can move in for the attack, we have to understand what we are dealing with. We have to understand why that stubborn fat is so stubborn.
Facts About Fat
Let’s take a moment to lay the groundwork before we jump into stubborn fat and how to get rid of it. The first thing that we need is to have a basic understanding of fat. Fat is often seen as the enemy, but in truth, our bodies require a certain amount of fat to function correctly. Here are some basic facts that you may or may not already know about fat:
- Our bodies can’t make fat from scratch.
- Fats that the body can’t make on its own like triglycerides and cholesterol are called essential fatty acids.
- Fats store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs.
- Essential fatty acids act as messengers and help proteins do their jobs.
- Fats start chemical reactions that help control immune function, growth, reproduction, and other aspects of metabolism.
- All animals, including humans, regulate their energy through the cycle of making, breaking, storing, and mobilizing fats.
- An imbalance in any part of the fat cycle can result in disease, including heart disease and diabetes.
- Fats assist the body in stockpiling certain nutrients like Vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are stored in the liver and fatty tissues.
So fat is our friend when things are working properly. But when something goes awry with our metabolism, diet, exercise, or hormones, then fat becomes a problem. And even when you get back on track with diet and exercise, the stubborn fat may stick around.
How does Fat Burn Off?
We know that you are likely reading this because you haven’t been able to burn off all the fat that you want to burn off. So, let’s look into how fat burns off to get a better understanding of why that stubborn fat won’t budge.
Fats are burned through a process called Lipolysis. Here is how Biology Dictionary describes Lipolysis:
Lipolysis is the process by which fats are broken down in our bodies through enzymes and water, or hydrolysis. It occurs in our adipose tissue stores, which are the fatty tissues that cushion and line our bodies and organs. In fact, fats can be thought of simply as stored energy. Fats are ready and available for when our glucose stores run low between meals, and it makes sense for Lipolysis to occur as it will facilitate the movement of these stored fats through our bloodstream. Breaking down this “potential energy” into free moving fatty acids can then allow them to be repurposed or expanded as fuel!
As we get more specific, this will start to make a lot more sense, so let’s detail out the fat-burning process.
The fat-burning process
- Fat is released from a fat cell.
- The fat is brought to another cell to be burned.
- The fat gets inside a cell and is burned (lipid oxidation.)
Pretty straightforward, right? So why do we have stubborn body fat, and why is it so stubborn?
Stubborn Fat is Physiologically Different Than Other Fat
Here is what differentiates stubborn fat from regular fat:
- It has a high ratio of alpha-receptors compared to beta-receptors
- It receives less blood flow than regular fat.
- Hormones impact stubborn fat.
- It is more insulin sensitive.
- Stubborn fat inhabits areas that are harder for the body to heat up.
So What Does That All Mean?
Stubborn fat is stubborn from the very beginning of the fat-burning process. It releases its fat more slowly than non-stubborn fat. Let’s look for answers in the basic biochemistry.
Two enzymes determine how fat enters or leaves fat cells. These enzymes are lipoprotein lipase (LPL), and hormone-sensitive lipase. LPL acts to store fat. HSL works to release fat. It is important to note that the enzyme that releases fat is called Hormone-sensitive lipase and not calorie sensitive lipase. HSL releases fat when signaled to by a compound called cyclic AMP. The hormone receptors impact the release in fat tissue called adrenergic receptors (AR).
There are two types of adrenergic receptors, alpha and beta receptors. The alphas are anti-burners, and the betas are burners. The alpha receptors slow fat release and beta receptors speed fat release. These receptors also impact blood flow. Where there are more alpha receptors, there is less blood flow to an area. Where there are more beta receptors, there is greater blood flow to an area.
Biochemistry helps us better understand why the differences between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat are so relevant. A higher number of alpha receptors and lower blood flow mean less fat burning.
Why Does Stubborn Body Fat Show up In the Same Places on Different Individuals?
Subcutaneous fat (the jiggly fat under your skin) is far more stubborn compared to visceral fat (abdominal fat). Subcutaneous fat tends to be more reactive to insulin, has a lower blood supply, and has more alpha receptors, which are all factors that lead to slower-burning fat. Visceral fat, on the other hand, has more beta receptors, higher blood flow, and is less reactive to insulin, which means that it is faster burning.
Subcutaneous fat on women exists in the saddlebags, inner thighs, lower belly, and butt. Subcutaneous fat in a woman’s lower body has about 9 to 10 times more alpha receptors compared to a male’s. That’s why men generally don’ t have stubborn fat in the saddlebags, inner thighs, or butt. Instead, they only have stubborn fat in the lower belly fat and love handle area.
Another reason stubborn fat lives where it lives is that those areas have more alpha-receptors, which equals less blood flow. Less blood flow means that even when fat is released, it won’t easily move out of the area to be burned elsewhere.
Now Let’s Talk Hormones
Now let’s take a look at how hormones interact with stubborn fat.
It turns out that stubborn fat may be more affected by hormones than other types of fat. This may be one of the reasons that you have not been successful in attacking weight loss with diet and exercise alone.
A variety of hormones impact fat gain and fat loss. They have an impact because of their direct or indirect effects on the enzymes and receptors that we discussed in the biochemistry section of our article.
Certain hormones, like insulin, have a very straightforward impact on fat gain or loss. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone that increases LPL activity and suppresses HSL activity. Insulin also impairs the normal function of beta receptors, which inhibits HSL.
If a fat cell is insulin sensitive, it stores more fat and releases less of it. Because stubborn fat is more insulin sensitive than other fat, it holds onto its fat rather than letting it go.
Catecholamines (adrenaline & noradrenaline/epinephrine & norepinephrine) speed up the fat release by binding beta receptors, which increases HSL activity. On the other hand, if they bind alpha receptors, then they can slow fat release. If you think back to the biochemistry, then you will remember that stubborn fat has a higher percentage of alpha receptors, which means that it releases fat more slowly.
Studies have shown that the sex hormone estrogen increases both the number and activity of alpha-adrenergic receptors. The subcutaneous fat of a woman’s lower body is richer in estrogen receptors than other areas, which explains why a majority of women have stubborn fat there. Imbalances of estrogen and testosterone can also cause weight problems, whether or not you are a man or a woman.
Sex hormones can be affected by many factors- some that you can control and others that you can not. For example, menopause and andropause are phases of an individual’s natural life cycle, and during those phases, hormones become unbalanced— this is a factor that you cannot control. However, things like overeating sugar, refined carbs, or alcohol, which can spike estrogen, are something that you can control.
The thyroid hormone is a good guy when it comes to weight loss. It increases beta-receptor activity, blocks the activity of alpha receptors, and works in opposition to estrogen, making stubborn fat less stubborn. But when thyroid gets out of balance, like in cases of hypothyroidism(low thyroid function) and there isn’t enough thyroid hormone to do its job, then stubborn fat gets stubborn again, and overall weight gain is likely to occur.
Stubborn fat can also be caused by stress. Stressful thoughts create hormonal responses that cause weight gain and insulin resistance. When you are stressed, an adrenal hormone called cortisol is released. Cortisol is a survival hormone that protects us when we are in danger. It helps you run faster, hear better, see further, and pumps fuel into your bloodstream to provide a burst of quick energy. It also shuts down digestion and slows your metabolism, which over the long term, can cause high blood sugar, an increase in belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and muscle loss.
What You Can Do to Lose Stubborn Fat
Now that you have a better understanding of what’s going on with that stubborn fat let’s talk about the fix. As you can see, it’s crucial to uncover the underlying cause, so a visit with your doctor is a must. They will be able to narrow down the causes by running blood tests, checking your hormone levels, and discussing how you have been attacking the problem so far.
4 Steps to Take If You Discover That It Is Your Thyroid That’s the Problem
1. Get the right tests. Make sure that your doctor checks your thyroid-stimulating hormones as well as thyroid antibodies. Some people may also need to get a particular test called reverse T3. This test will check to see if heavy metals like mercury, pesticides, yeast, or nutritional deficiencies like selenium, vitamin D, zinc, or iodine could be inhibiting thyroid hormone function.
2. Eat thyroid supporting foods. Soybeans, raw kale, and other raw cruciferous veggies that contain thyroid-blocking compounds called goitrogens should be avoided. You can eat cruciferous vegetables if they are cooked, but not raw. The creation of thyroid hormones requires iodine. Eating wild-caught salmon, low-mercury fish and seaweed will provide you with good sources of iodine, particularly if you do not partake in iodized salt.
3. Take thyroid-supporting supplements. Take a good multivitamin daily as well as fish oil and vitamin D. You can also try iodine supplements, but if you do, make sure to get your iodine levels tested regularly to avoid overdosing.
4. Undergo thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Getting on a regime of thyroid hormone replacement therapy can do wonders if you are suffering from hypothyroidism and the weight gain associated with it. Finding a doctor who understands how to optimize thyroid balance and create a customized nutrient protocol for you is your best bet.
If Stress Is the Problem
In modern times our stress response is triggered continuously. Most of this stress isn’t real- meaning our lives are not actually in danger- and yet our bodies react as if it is. Worrying, obsessive thinking, and fear-based future projections can all become stressors. Real or imagined, these stressors affect your body. Here are 3 things you can do to combat stress:
1. Become aware of and change your thinking. Of the 60,000 thoughts you have each day, a tiny percentage is true or helpful. If you can become aware of those thoughts and get into the habit of denying those that are keeping you stressed and replacing them with something positive, then you will be on the way to long-term happiness and health.
2. Learn how to actively relax and practice it regularly. You could try deep breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Even taking a sauna or steam bath can help because the elevated body temperature discharges stress from the body and helps reduce stress hormones.
3. Be a human being, not a human doing. Many of us base our value on how much we get done. Learning how just to be present, connect with others, and spend quality time with family and friends can reduce stress and cortisol levels significantly.
Six Actions You Can Take to Tackle Stubborn Body Fat If Hormone Imbalance Is the Problem
Try these 6 tips to help tackle stubborn body fat:
- Eat a hormone-balancing diet that is low in sugar, high in healthful fats, and high in fiber, which can help balance hormones.
- Include plenty of fiber in your diet.
- Move your bowels daily.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Get plenty of exercises.
- Get hormone replacement therapy.
Let’s stick with hormones for a minute…
If you have been struggling to lose that final bit of stubborn fat (or even if you’ve been struggling to lose weight period) and you’ve tried diet, exercise, and stress-relief practices, then you are probably a slave to hormone imbalance.
Hormones affect every system of your body. And when one gets out of balance, there are consequences and symptoms. Hormones affect growth and development, fertility, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and behavior. They even affect your ability to metabolize food. If estrogen and/or progesterone levels fall, not only will it be challenging to lose weight, but your weight will increase, despite your best efforts. When hormones are out of balance, adjusting them to the proper levels is necessary to prevent weight gain and increase your ability to lose weight.
Hormonal imbalance also affects how you feel. Not only can a hormonal imbalance cause a decrease in energy and slow down your metabolism, but it may also leave you feeling depressed, irritable, and a slave to food cravings. None of these effects make you want to stick to a diet or exercise routine. In fact, they do just the opposite and act as saboteurs to your efforts.
The great news is that getting these hormones back into balance is as simple as replacing those that are lacking. How? With Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT is a type of hormone therapy that uses hormones that are structurally identical to the substances that naturally occur in your body.
What Is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
BHRT is the natural alternative to synthetic hormone treatments that often don’t provide relief. EvexiPEL’s approach to BHRT is superior because it’s natural.
Derived from natural plant sources, the hormones in our pellets mimic the molecular structure of those hormones found in the body.
Federally qualified pharmacists extract the exact amount of thyroid hormone, estrogen, testosterone, or progesterone needed from plant sources and compound them into our pellets. Nothing synthetic or hard to pronounce is going in your body so you can feel safe using our method.
You Have Unique Needs
Other hormone therapy options include pills, patches, and creams, but patches, creams, and pills also have the following issues:
- It will need constant maintenance.
- They require you to remember to do something every day.
- It can be messy.
That’s why we choose to use pellet therapy. Hormone pellets have been around for decades, but providers pushed them aside when pills and patches flooded the market.
However, many practitioners are turning back to hormone pellet therapy to offer their patients a more individualized approach to restoring balance and optimizing hormones.
What Are Hormone Replacement Therapy Pellets?
Hormone pellets are roughly the size of a grain of rice. They are composed of hormones blended for your specific needs. These tiny pellets are inserted under the skin, usually in the buttocks, in a simple and painless in-office procedure.
The pellets consistently release small amounts of hormones directly into the bloodstream, similar to the way your body would in previous years.
The pellets also release the hormones in response to physical activity or emotional stress, both the good and bad kind, which means that whenever your mood swings or your PTSD kicks in, the pellets are working to maintain hormonal balance.
It generally takes 2-4 weeks for you to start feeling better, but full hormone optimization could take closer to 6 months. Because of this, EvexiPEL providers understand this is a long term relationship.
They will follow-up regularly with you to monitor how you are doing and customize hormone optimization based on your symptoms and blood work.
Why Finding an EveiPEL Provider Could Be Just What You Need
Our practitioners spend as much time as necessary, talking with their patients. This means they will not stop until they have uncovered the root cause (or causes) of the issues that you are having.
EvexiPEL providers run several tests and follow-up tests as well as have multiple conversations with you until they can diagnose the problem. They will then come up with a holistic plan that addresses whatever is ailing you.
Because of the underlying issues that cause stubborn fat, this treatment plan will likely involve what is sometimes thought of as unconventional treatment methods.
Treatment could include a combination of:
- Detoxifying your environment
- Attending to your emotional well-being
- Stress reduction routines
- Nutritional supplementation
- Creating an appropriate exercise plan
We Are Here For You
Whatever you need, our providers will be there for you. You’ve done enough on your own. Now it’s time to let our practitioners work with you to devise a unique and effective treatment plan. Find an EveiPEL provider today!