One of the common questions as a fitness trainer I have encountered is if spot reduction- reducing fat from a particular area is possible or not?
If a gym client has a problem collecting more fat around the abdominal area or generally a woman collecting more fat around the lower body they always request the trainers to give them more exercises for the abs or the lower body. But, is spot reduction actually possible? or is it a myth?
As a teenager we collect less amount of fat despite eating all the junk food. One major reason for this is while in the youth, the amount of muscle mass that we carry is more as compared to an elderly person. Hence, the BMR of a youth is quite high when as a teenager and it remains high up to the age of 24 or 25 years of age. Post 25, the degeneration sets in and the muscle mass starts to decline. Muscle being a metabolically active tissue contributes towards increasing the BMR. With the muscle mass degenerating, the BMR also drops and the individual starts collecting fat all over the body. But, in every individual there is a spot where he/she collects more fat then the other parts of the body.
The collection of fat in particular spots is dictated by an individual’s genetics. When, I say pre-decided by genetics, it means that it runs in the family. It is now important to understand how this happens?
Here we need to understand the role of 2 important hormones in our body
1) Insulin and 2) Glucagon.
Insulin acts like a transporter of micro and macro nutrients into the liver and muscle cells. Insulin also plays a role of maintaining the blood sugar levels after a high carbohydrate meal by lowering the blood sugar levels and avoids a person from going into Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).
Glucagon on the other hand is a hormone that again maintains blood sugar levels by increasing the blood sugar level during long hours of starvation or when an individual lowers the carbohydrate intake in his meals. Here, glucagon plays the role of raising the blood sugar levels and avoids the state of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels).
After having simple carbohydrates such as sugar, chocolates, white rice, white bread, some fruits with high glycemic index, potatoes and other starch, the conversion of these foods into sugar is very fast and it increases the blood sugar levels.
Please note the sugar that is stored within the muscle as muscle glycogen is preserved by the body for any high intense anaerobic activity that we perform in our day to day activity (like running fast or lifting some heavy object etc)
In order to loose fat, a person needs to cut down on simple carbohydrates and keep complex carbohydrate in a reduced quantity (as and when required) as well as start in taking good amount of fibres and protien.When carbohydrates are reduced,
the body is deprived of energy so it starts surviving on the blood sugar for energy. The blood sugar levels drop then to normal thereby leading to hypoglycemia. This activates the pancreas to release Glucagon.
Glucagon starts to maintain the blood sugar levels by raising it. Since the sugar inflex is reduced from outside, the glucagon has no option but to use liver glycogen to raise the blood sugar levels. Once, the liver storage of glycogen is over, it moves to the muscle glycogen. Muscle glycogen is not released by the body as it is reserved for a high intense activity. Now glucagon has no other option but to move towards the fat cell to get energy for survival. Here, one more enzyme known as the HSL (Hormone sensitive lipase) which is on the fat cell allows the triglycerides to exit from the fat cell in the form of free fatty acid into the blood stream and it is used up by the tissues as a source of energy.
This is already programmed by our genetics and cannot be changed through any exercise or spot reduction techniques.
Performing abdominal exercises will definitely strengthen the abdominal muscles which will help an individual to increase his or her functionality in day to day activities as well as it will also help in lifting a decent poundage in functional movements like squats, Lunges, Bendover rows, Overhead presses and Regular deadlifts. But, abdominal exercises DO NOT give you a spot reduction. Hence, the intention of abdominal workout is increasing strength of the abdomen and not spot reduction.
Fat loss is all throughout the body because it catogorized as BODY FAT and not fat of the abdomen, arms, back, chest or legs.