Weight Loss
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Losing stomach fat


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Is there anything I can do about redistributing my body fat?  I'm really bothered by my stomach "pooch".  I already do a solid workout routine which include ab work, and although my upper stomach is toned, there is still this fat around my lower abdomen I can't get rid of.  I don't want to lose weight (I'm 5'1 and between 98-99 lbs atm) but maybe I could lose body fat (a pound or two) and try to regain the weight in muscle?  Do you think that would work to get rid of my belly fat?

Thanks in advance.
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#1  
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There is a VERY COMMON misconception that it is possible to "lose belly fat" specifically.  There is no way to target a certain area for fat loss, as your body distributes it arbitrarily based upon factors such as gender and genetics. (That's why some women have large butts and hips but slim waists and others have the exact opposite....along with any other configuration you have seen)

The gist of this is that the keys to losing "stomach fat" are the same to losing fat in general; you just have to be consistently diligent enough to wait for your body to consume the fat stores in that location.

However, women have an extra layer of fat across the lower abdomen to provide a cradle for a gestating fetus.  Fat is *supposed* to be in that location

However, there are a couple of tricks you might be able to do to help appearances ;)  ....You say that you work your abs in your workout: Do you include the "abdominal vacuum"?  If not, try adding it (It's probably the easiest ab exercise you will do)

Anatomy: There are 4 major muscles comprising the abdominal region: The rectus abdominis ("6-pack"), left obliquus oculi(left oblique), right obliquus oculi(right oblique), and the one that everyone forgets.....the transversus abdominis...THIS is the muscle that the abdominal vacuum targets.

This muscle is a little bit of a different animal than the other abdominals.  It's primary purpose is to hold in the bowels, and as such, resistance upon the muscle is provided by gravity pushing your innards downward and out into the abdominal wall. There is no way to work this muscle externally(i.e. no crunch, sit-up, or weighted move can target this muscle) ...the only thing that can provide resistance to the muscle are the internal organs themselves. 

 

Exercise:
So....the way to work this muscle is to suck in your gut and hold it...essentially, contract your abdominal muscles focusing on driving your belly button backwards towards your spine and hold for a brief period(I personally do 5 second holds), breathe, and repeat (I don't hold my breath, but I contract hard enough that my diaphragm compresses and makes breathing very difficult...I take short, shallow breaths while I'm in the pose and then take one deep breath while I'm relaxed) I usually do this exercise for 5 minutes.....it probably won't burn a single drop of fat, but your abdominal wall will be held back tighter and eventually cause your lower stomach area to flatten out.

 

Thanks Alan!  I had never heard of that type of exercise.  I will definitely add it to my routine.  Other than that, I agree it is probably just a matter of reducing overall body fat.  
#3  
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Here's a good illustration of the exercise

http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Transvers eAbdominus/AbdominalVacuum.html

(exrx.net has a ton of exercise information on weight training as well as human kinesiology)

Original Post by alanbates:

There is a VERY COMMON misconception that it is possible to "lose belly fat" specifically.  There is no way to target a certain area for fat loss, as your body distributes it arbitrarily based upon factors such as gender and genetics. (That's why some women have large butts and hips but slim waists and others have the exact opposite....along with any other configuration you have seen)

The gist of this is that the keys to losing "stomach fat" are the same to losing fat in general; you just have to be consistently diligent enough to wait for your body to consume the fat stores in that location.

However, women have an extra layer of fat across the lower abdomen to provide a cradle for a gestating fetus.  Fat is *supposed* to be in that location

However, there are a couple of tricks you might be able to do to help appearances ;)  ....You say that you work your abs in your workout: Do you include the "abdominal vacuum"?  If not, try adding it (It's probably the easiest ab exercise you will do)

Anatomy: There are 4 major muscles comprising the abdominal region: The rectus abdominis ("6-pack"), left obliquus oculi(left oblique), right obliquus oculi(right oblique), and the one that everyone forgets.....the transversus abdominis...THIS is the muscle that the abdominal vacuum targets.

This muscle is a little bit of a different animal than the other abdominals.  It's primary purpose is to hold in the bowels, and as such, resistance upon the muscle is provided by gravity pushing your innards downward and out into the abdominal wall. There is no way to work this muscle externally(i.e. no crunch, sit-up, or weighted move can target this muscle) ...the only thing that can provide resistance to the muscle are the internal organs themselves. 

 

Exercise:
So....the way to work this muscle is to suck in your gut and hold it...essentially, contract your abdominal muscles focusing on driving your belly button backwards towards your spine and hold for a brief period(I personally do 5 second holds), breathe, and repeat (I don't hold my breath, but I contract hard enough that my diaphragm compresses and makes breathing very difficult...I take short, shallow breaths while I'm in the pose and then take one deep breath while I'm relaxed) I usually do this exercise for 5 minutes.....it probably won't burn a single drop of fat, but your abdominal wall will be held back tighter and eventually cause your lower stomach area to flatten out.

 

 

 

Watch me get chewed out for this one.

While I agree with what is said above, I really do believe that reducing the amount of sugar (or bad carbs, or whatever) in your diet helps decrease abdominal fat. I notice a pooch when I've had too much sugar and it goes down quickly when I eliminate refined sugar from my diet.

I still think you should go the exercise route, but it is something to consider.

#6  
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It's most likely a coincidence. If you can see a noticeable difference in your own body when you eat refined sugars and when you don't, then (honestly) don't pay attention to the facts. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Do what works for you. Everybody's body is different.

 

But....to provide an answer that might explain your observation:

I would imagine that your simple observation is an illusion...I don't doubt the presence/absence of a "pooch", but it could actually be something else. Remember that correlation does not imply causation.

I am not claiming the following as fact/scientific/professional/otherwise....I'm simply providing it as conjecture..think of it this way....refined sugars are a little difficult to digest and the foods that contain them are usually low in fiber...think of why your stomach could be "pooching" ;) ...might not have to do with fat on your abdomen at all, but with the fact that your food is traveling through your system slower than normal and there is a "logjam" (*rimshot*...thank you. thank you. I'll be here all weekend)....adding weight to your digestive organs, which in turn will push with greater force against your abdominal wall.....forcing it outward, thus creating a "pooch."

When you remove refined carbohydrates from your diet and go to a more "normal" diet, your digestive tract probably normalizes and reduces in weight to the point that the transversus abdominis can withhold the force exerted upon it, thus eliminating your "pooch"

I'm probably right ;) lol

#7  
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It's very, very easy to be tricked into thinking that the abdomen can be specifically "targeted" for fat loss: You can do simple things that make your stomach and "pooch" area shrink before your own eyes!!

But the exercise industry is lying to you(there are even pills for losing "stomach fat"...I see those and cringe that people will actually believe them <:( )!! Food for thought: Every other area of your body uses BONE as the substrate for your muscles....think of a skeleton and name the bones in the abdominal region...THERE ARE NONE. Your rectus abdominis (6-pack muscle) stretches across your abdomen like a bowstring...It's attached at the top...attached at the bottom...but nothing is supporting it in the middle except for its own tensile strength.(Refer to my previous posts in this thread for more information on the way the abdominal muscles interact with one another)

Now...think of how your internal organs are arranged inside your body...are they held in place by string(lol)? or ligatures of any kind? or anything at all? Your heart and lungs are held in place by your ribcage, sure. But what keeps your stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, etc in place? Pretty much nothing. They stack on top of one another and press down on the pelvis. ..The pelvis isn't going to budge under that weight, but a weak transverse abdominis muscle will. This will cause your organs themselves to force the rectus abdominis muscles to stretch like a bowstring outward and the rectus can't do anything about it because it's the transverse's job to girdle the organs of the abdomen.

Add on top of that an unhealthy diet....your digestive tract will be operating at less than optimal condition....you might be providing it food to process quicker than it can process it, and it just keeps stacking up and stacking up and stacking up, adding mass to the digestive tract (the intestines will carry an enormous mass), which in turn will apply even more weight to the abdominal muscles, distending the abdomen even more. ....Simply adjusting your diet to allow your digestive tract to normalize can reduce enough stress on the transverse abdominis that it will be able to girdle the reduced weight properly and flatten out your midsection (not necessarily "flat", but "flattER")

Original Post by hamburger28:

Watch me get chewed out for this one.

While I agree with what is said above, I really do believe that reducing the amount of sugar (or bad carbs, or whatever) in your diet helps decrease abdominal fat. I notice a pooch when I've had too much sugar and it goes down quickly when I eliminate refined sugar from my diet.

I still think you should go the exercise route, but it is something to consider.

Actually, what I see there usually comes from either bloat or water weight.  It's not really fat.

Pilates will help you to learn how to target the different muscles in your stomach. Cruches, and sit ups only work the middle to upper abdominal muscles. Try scissor kicks.

lay on your back-lift legs aobut 6-8 inches off the ground- you can either put your hands under your butt or head, but as you get stronger, put your hands out to the sides or up in the air-keep your lower back FLAT on the ground-slowly open and close your legs in and out-tighten your pooch muscles while doing the motions-count of 10 then rest- Repeat.

Also, women have an extra layer of padding right over the pelvic bone, which might contribute to the pooch. It's there to help protect the uterus during pregnancy.

I've actually heard from several sources that belly fat specifically reactes more to stress then other parts of your body.  Abdominal fat functions differently due to a greater blood supply, or something like that.  Check out this article:

 

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0846/i s_12_23/ai_n6125800

 

Maybe try some yoga? :)

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