Hey Angels and Alphas,
As unfair as it sounds, we know our bodies tend to store fat in certain places more than it would in other places. Some of us store it around the waistline, some of us around the legs, but how and where we store fat depends on a variety of different factors such as height, weight, gender, genetics, as well as how many adipocytes (or fat cells) we have in certain areas of the body.
That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today – the different factors that affect weight gain, and why weight gain seems to be targeted while weight loss is either all or nothing.
For starters, we should know that women and men store fat in different ways. And that’s precisely why we gain (and lose) pounds differently, too. Things such as hormone balance, genetics, lifestyle, age, stress, all of these play a role in how and where we’re going to gain weight.
Let’s discover why some of us have a tendency to gain weight around our bellies, while other more lucky people tend to store fat in their thighs and legs.
The most important factors are activity levels and gender.
The reason why men and women have body shapes that are so different is that our sex hormones – testosterone and estrogen – play such a big role in fat storage.
Women usually have a higher percentage of total body fat, close to about 7-10 percent more than men. Women also have the tendency to store more fat in their hips and thighs, also known as the gluteal-femoral region. Men, on the other hand, store more fat in their abdomen, also known as visceral fat or belly fat.
Testosterone has perhaps the largest influence on your body fat composition and muscle mass. With aging, testosterone levels begin to drop, and at the same time that testosterone begins to drop, more belly fat begins being stored and the metabolism slows down.
This is also true for the hormone estrogen in women. Estrogen plays a major role in regulating metabolism and body weight, and as women age, estrogen levels decrease.
This slows down the metabolism, which is why you see it’s harder to maintain weight and you usually gain a bit around your waistline as you grow older.
Not only that, but it becomes harder for both men and women to sustain high-intensity workouts over time, and they become less active as they get older. Not getting enough exercise and movement, and losing muscle mass, ultimately translates to more weight gain.
Another very important factor is insulin.
Insulin is one of your body’s fat-regulating hormones. It’s released into your bloodstream after you eat a meal with the purpose of helping you lower blood sugar
Insulin works by transporting glucose away from the blood and inside the body’s muscle tissues, fat and liver cells so it can be stored as glycogen (and then later used for energy.) That being said, your body has a natural capacity when it comes to storing glycogen, and once your body reaches that natural capacity, it naturally shifts into fat storage.
In short, insulin is a hormone that decides whether or not the extra glucose you consume will be stored as fat. This means that if we just lower the amount of refined
carbohydrates (and sugar) in our diet, we ultimately decrease the chances of maxing out our glycogen stores (and the need to stockpile fat stores.) This leads to less fat storage overall.
Let’s talk about the different types of fat.
There are essentially two types of fat.
The (1) first is subcutaneous fat, located directly under the skin, and the (2) second is visceral fat, located predominantly in the abdomen that surrounds and pads the empty space between your vital organs.
Even though you can grab subcutaneous fat with your fingers since it’s obvious to the eye and located between your thighs, under the arm, and etc, visceral fat is much more difficult to detect with the naked eye. And it’s more dangerous! It’s linked to a variety of health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Have you ever met someone with a “pear-shaped” body? These types of people tend to store more subcutaneous fat in the much lower extremities of their body, such as the hips, buttocks, and etc. On the other hand, people with “apple-shaped” bodies tend to store visceral fat in the upper region of their body, namely their abdomen and chest.Even if you’re thin, you can still see and have visceral fat around your belly.
Here’s why you can’t reduce fat in certain spots.
Until now, you’ve likely realized that you can’t just pick and choose where you lose fat, as awesome as it would be. This is because the factors we mentioned above, along with your genetics, determine the locations where fat mostly accumulates.
And sure, you can try to “target” your subcutaneous fat by doing more pushups and core exercises, you cannot directly target visceral fat, which is actually the type of fat you should be trying to lose.
The good news? Visceral fat is most commonly the easiest to lose, and there are many strategies you can employ to lose weight and improve your overall health (as well as get rid of this pesky inch around your waist and get your abdominals to shine through.)
Losing weight… and keeping it off…
Rather than following not-so-conventional wisdom and trying to lose weight in one specific place in your body, create healthy habits for yourself that will allow your body to reach the weight and shape that you desire (and that is healthy and sustainable for you as an individual.)
- Emphasize whole foods, fresh fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs.
- Stay active, workout for at least 150 minutes every week to achieve weight loss.
- Keep your stress levels low (stress is a big predictor of long-term weight gain.)
- Get high-quality sleep (bad quality sleep or not enough sleep harms blood sugar levels and create cravings for sugary snacks.)
- Eat a varied diet and supplement if you need to.