The Fat Spot Reduction Myth
Fat plays an important role in the body’s homeostasis and is stored in all parts of your body, mainly in adipose (fat) tissues, and also in small amounts in your muscles. Excessive fat, however, can be a problem. It is still very common to hear that people looking to 'tone' their stomach do hundreds, or even thousands, of sit-ups and leg-raises because they believe that these will burn more fat in that area. As a personal trainer and fitness coach in Kuala Lumpur, many people look for me and ask for help to reduce and ‘tone’ certain parts of their bodies. The truth is, however, that you cannot target fat (and you cannot ‘sweat it out’ since sweat is not melted fat). Whenever people do ‘spot reducing’ exercises like squats, triceps extensions or crunches (along with all resistance training) for example, they rely primarily on sugar and not fat to fuel the activity. This means that doing so will definitely burn calories, which in turn will have an impact on your total fat loss. However, by doing exercises in which you isolate certain small muscles in particular, you will burn less calories than if your whole body was exercising. Whenever you ‘feel the burn’ in the targeted area, it is not the fat burning, but only the sensation of some exercise related chemical reactions. So, now you might be asking the question: how can you burn more fat and become more ‘toned’?
Big muscles burn more calories than small muscles, and exercising more muscles together burns more calories than exercising a few individual muscles only. Try to do exercises that involve large muscles and multiple joint movements, such as squats, or lunges with a biceps curl to press for example. These types of integrated exercises use a lot of muscles, meaning they burn a large number of calories. Also, try to keep your workout intensive, and don’t spend too much time sitting with your phone or music between sets. It is usually best to keep to short breaks while focusing on your goals, as by doing regular exercises your body will rely more and more on fat as fuel, meaning the more exercise you do the better your body becomes in utilising fat to fuel activities – which is good news for losing weight. The more calories you burn, the less you store, and the less you store, the less body fat you have. Reducing bodily fat can not only give you a boost in self-confidence, but also decreases the risk of many of chronic diseases, improving your overall health.
Furthermore, as a general rule of thumb, if you want to lose more fat you have to burn more calories than those you bring in with the food and drinks that you consume throughout the day. A healthy diet is a very important part of any weight loss program, and since you need to create a calorie deficit, it is very important that the calories you have come from nutritious and good quality food. Sustainable fat loss is a long process, and requires a lot of changes in one’s lifestyle, which is not always easy and usually involves a lot of ups and downs. You must always try your best to be consistent and determined if you want to successfully lose fat in a healthy way. If you only lose for example half a kilogram of weight every week, and are losing faith that you will ever achieve your goals, try to keep in mind that your efforts will eventually lead to an impressive 26 kilograms of healthy and sustainable fat loss in one year. Don’t forget, those extra kilos probably got there over many, many years, so they unfortunately won’t quickly fall off you in a few weeks, at least not in a healthy way. If you find yourself needing help, or simply don’t know where to start, look for a certified personal trainer in Kuala Lumpur to guide you on your journey to a healthier, happier body and mind.