It follows, that if you are adhering the accepted expert advice to maintain a healthy weight:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat moderately (between 1500-2200 calories per day)
- Eat a balanced diet (50% to 60% of calories from carbohydrates; < 30% from fat; 15% to 20% from ACSM figures)
You should have no problem staying trim and looking great in your clothes. Yes? Sadly, for many the answer appears to be NO! Many individuals seem to struggle against a growing waistline, while others appear to be relatively well protected against putting on excess fat.
Even if the rest of your body looks like a top 10 supermodel’s, if you have love handles then shifting that stubborn belly fat will be your number 1 fitness goal. In addition to looking and feeling good there are specific health risks associated with fat stored around the midriff.
“Android obesity” and excess weight in the trunk area (broadly speaking, if your waist circumference is above 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women), places an individual at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and premature death.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to target and reduce specific parts of the body. You use stored fat from all over the body in equal proportions. As your body breaks down fat, the number of fat cells remains the same; each fat cell simply gets smaller. Hence when you lose fat you will notice a reduction in the overall size of all parts of your body.
The reason love handles persist is because more fat was stored there in the first place. So whilst when using fat your body is indiscriminate in terms of where it takes it from, this is not true when it stores it.
Hormone levels have a big influence on how the body metabolises energy and stores fat. When we eat, hormones are released into the blood stream. The type of calories consumed determines which hormones are released. For example, starchy or sugary foods such as breads, pasta, apples, chocolate etc., trigger the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin is a sugar-storing hormone that lowers blood sugar levels.
Consuming protein also stimulates insulin to be released but it causes the hormone glucagon to be released too as well. Glucagon raises blood sugar levels and therefore indirectly impacts fat metabolism. Hence the type of calories you consume can hugely affect how you store body fat.
Genetics also plays a significant role in how the food is metabolised by the body. Some people are insulin resistant, which means that since their insulin does not work properly they must have higher levels of circulating insulin. Whereas others are insulin sensitive, with naturally low levels of insulin.
If you have love handles or an excess of belly fat, it’s likely that you have naturally high levels of insulin. In which case an effective fat loss strategy would be to avoid foods that cause large rises in insulin such as those high in sugar, white bread and pasta (refined carbohydrates).
Although flabby parts of the body, such as love handles, are the result of excess fat rather than untoned muscles; toning exercises that improve your muscle strength and fitness will improve the appearance of your body and contribute to banishing your love handles. This is because when muscles are exercised effectively, the energy burning cells within them, called mitochondria, get bigger and increase in number.
Consequently the body is able to burn more calories even at rest. In other words, you boost your metabolism, increasing your calorie requirement. Therefore, in addition to watching the sorts of calories you eat, you also reduce your calorie intake. This mean you are more likely to put your energy equation into deficit. Therefore,
you will be burning rather than storing fat, which is key in your battle to lose weight and tone up.
The energy equation
- Energy in = Energy out = Maintain Body Mass
- Energy in < Energy out = Reduce Body Mass (If the deficit is too great the body will use muscle tissue, as well as fat, for energy.)
- Energy In > Energy out = Increase Body Fat
However, if you are spending hours in the gym each week and still find it difficult to get shot of those love handles, you probably need to boost your workout by stepping up the intensity.
Research has shown that a 20 to 40 minute high-intensity workout will boost your fat burning capacity by speeding up your metabolism for up to a day after you have completed the exercise.
For a high intensity home-based workout that can be done with your own body weight check out the article on getting rid of bingo wings.
Technogym’s Kinesis Personal is one of a range of products offering high intensity strength exercises with resistance to help overload your muscles and turn them into fat burning furnaces. The key here is intensity, not duration, so they can be done quickly if you are short on time.
Kinesis’ compact design and easy integration into the home means that that you can be set up and exercising in minutes. For a 20-minute workout check out the videos below on our YouTube channel. Remember you can raise the intensity by increasing the resistance so that you are working at an effort level of seven or eight; on a scale of one to ten, where one is very easy and 10 is very hard.