Getting rid of stubborn fat is like solving a 5-piece puzzle. There are five essential elements that make this program so effective. Some of them you might have heard of… Some of them you’ve might have even tried unsuccessfully in the past. Whatever the case might be, if you haven’t gotten rid of stubborn fat till now, it’s because you never applied all five of these together.
#1 High-Protein diet
If there’s one thing we know with certainty from nutritional science, it’s that a high protein intake is key when it comes to muscle-mass retention and development - especially during caloric deficits . Protein is the most muscle-sparing, satiating and thermically-active macronutrient. In case those last lines where a bit complicated, let me elaborate a bit.
- Muscle-sparing quality of protein: Simply put, when on a low caloric deficit, the more protein you eat the less muscle you’ll be breaking down (1).
- Satiety: Protein has been observed to be the most fulfilling macronutrient. The more of eat in a meal – the fast you’ll be fulfilled with the least cost in calories (1).
- Thermic effect: There are three types of macronutrients - fat, carbs and protein. Our bodies require an amount of energy in order to break these down and absorb them. Fat uses about 3% (if you eat 100 calories of fat you burn 3) and carbs use 3-6% (eat 100 cal, burn 3-6). Protein though, uses up to 25% - eat 100, burn 12-25 calories (2).
#2 Cycled caloric restriction
For the average person, a moderate caloric restriction plus a few strength workouts per week - can gradually lead to a strong and lean physique. The same approach will work for people with Stubborn Fat in the beginning, until… well, until it doesn’t (3)(4)(5).
Stubborn fat is very resistant to moderate/small caloric deficits. Sure they might work a little bit in the beginning, but as we said, eventually you hit a plateau after which you either don’t change at all – or you even start looking worse! This is because the body adapts to dieting and fat loss in a way that slows down fat loss and increases muscle-breakdown.
The way you break this pattern is by going on an aggressive caloric deficit for a while, after which you then switch to a week where you eat close to maintenance (with some other tweaks such as increasing carbs). This way you avoid metabolic adaptations that caloric deficits can cause (6)(7)(8).
#3 High frequency training (Short daily workouts)
Every time you strength train, a short-term increase in protein-synthesis occurs. What the heck is muscle protein-synthesis (MPS)!? Muscles grow by repairing small micro-tears that occur during strength-related exercise. When the muscle experiences these tears, blood flow to the area increases, bringing with it the necessary components for repair through MPS. The repaired muscle is then stronger and larger than it was before (9) (10).
Maintaining a positive balance of muscle protein in the body (MPS must exceed muscle protein breakdown) is key for building muscle while burning fat (which is your goal). Why is that? Because just losing weight is not our goal – losing stubborn-fat is! If you’re just losing weight, and a lot of that is muscle, that only means that less of it is fat (and even less of that is stubborn fat). Result? You might lose some pounds but you’ll probably end up looking worse.
Other benefits of frequent training during Stubborn Fat Loss:
- Training on a daily basis also keeps your metabolism constantly elevated (even longer than all other forms of training such as cardio).
- It also helps you value your efforts and the fuel you put in your body more. Because of that you think twice before you eat something unfit to your diet.
- It can fill a big part of your day’s free time. This way you have less time to obsess over food when you’re bored or have nothing better to do (one of the main reasons people mess up their diets!).
#4 Maximize muscle retention (Mind-to-Muscle techniques)
Although freely available to everyone and scientifically proven – applying mind-to-muscle techniques (MMT) still remains one of the most neglected training techniques. In simple words, MMT teaches you simple cues you can apply in any strength-related exercise to maximize muscle-tension. As shown in studies, by using MMT you can increase muscle tension up to 30% (and more in my opinion). This leads to a broader and deeper activation of muscle fibers (11).
Minimizing muscle-loss during your diet is key for getting rid of stubborn fat. One of the most important observations I’ve made as a coach the last couple of years is the following. People who seem to be doing everything right training-wise and still struggle to build muscle – have more often than none the same weakness… They have such a lack of understanding in terms of how an exercise should feel and how much they should push themselves that causes them a big lack of engagement in their workouts. They have a big gap between mind and muscle. They use too much momentum in favor of getting more reps with less effort (therefore less muscle-tension). They use bad form that puts more pressure on their joints and connective tissue instead of their muscles.
After two years of teaching these techniques directly to people I coach personally or indirectly to the rest of the world out there through some of my best-selling short-reads on Kindle and my Youtube Channel – are remarkable.
#5 Intermittent fasting and Stubborn Fat loss
Intermittent fasting (for those not familiar with the term) could be described as skipping breakfast to extend your none-eating window during sleep for a couple of more hours. Yes, breakfast has been considered as the healthiest meal of the day for decades now but guess what… that’s just another nutritional myth. Do you think our cavemen ancestors had a fridge in their cave to snack off the moment they woke up?
So how does intermittent fasting help with stubborn fat loss? Well, we’ll have to get a bit sciency here once again so once again bear with me if you find these things boring…
The major hormones that influence fat-loss are called catecholamines (aka noradrenaline and adrenalin) and their release promotes fat breakdown for energy (among with a bunch of other processes in the body).Now, fat-cells have two types of catecholamine receptors (think of these as locks that open up these cells, allowing fat oxidation when the right hormone is present). These are called Alpha receptors and Beta receptors. The Alpha ones are not as efficient as the beta – or in a way you could say they are more stubborn. So, guess which ones are more present in stubborn fat… You guessed right, the Alpha ones (12-16).
Another important problem with stubborn fat is blood flow. Typically, blood flow to stubborn fat regions is very poor, and without adequate blood flow you can’t get the necessary hormones to “unlock” catecholamine receptors and mobilize fat (17).
Quick summary: How does Intermittent fasting burn stubborn-fat
- It increases catecholamine levels.
- It increases abdominal subcutaneous blood flow.
- Because insulin levels are lower during Intermittent fasting, more fat can be mobilized from stubborn areas.