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  • Writer's pictureJuan-Pierre Pieri

Stubborn Fat & How To Target It (Part 1)

Stubborn fat is notoriously difficult to eliminate and tends to linger as the last remaining fat on the body during weight loss efforts. To effectively tackle this type of fat, it's essential to understand the distinct functions of two types of fat receptors within the body.

Fat in the body, known as triglycerides, consists of a glycerol backbone and three fatty acids. Breaking down triglycerides involves transporting glycerol and fatty acids to target cells for oxidation and elimination, primarily through exhalation. Fat cells contain two primary receptors: alpha 2, associated with stubborn fat, and beta 2, which facilitates fat liberation.

fat cell structure

The ratio of alpha 2 to beta 2 receptors in specific body areas determines the difficulty of fat loss. Areas with a higher ratio of alpha 2 receptors are more resistant to fat loss, while those with a higher ratio of beta 2 receptors are easier to target.

Both alpha 2 and beta 2 receptors are activated by neurotransmitters like dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. However, these receptors have conflicting actions, as the same neurotransmitters that activate beta 2 receptors can also activate alpha 2 receptors, inhibiting fat mobilization. Once the alpha receptors are activated by noradrenaline, it creates a negative feedback loop by preventing further release of noradrenaline.

Starting a calorie deficit diet initiates fat loss primarily through beta 1 and beta 2 receptor activation, breaking down triglycerides for energy use. Resistance training enhances this process and helps maintain or build muscle mass, especially for beginners and intermediates.

Despite progress with a calorie deficit diet, stubborn fat may persist in areas dictated by genetics and gender. For most females, stubborn fat accumulates around the thighs, hips, lower belly, and upper back, while for most men, it's found in the lower belly, love handles, and chest.

To target stubborn fat, the key is to inhibit or override alpha 2 receptors to allow the beta 2 receptors to be accessed, allowing fatty acids to enter the bloodstream for oxidation and elimination.

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