Did you know that most weight gain in adulthood is a result of consistently consuming more calories than you burn? Even 100 extra calories per day can lead to a 10-pound increase in weight over the course of a year. Where you store that increase in body fat depends on your body type which is usually dictated by your gender and hormones. Women tend to gain weight in their lower body mainly in their thighs, hips and butt and men tend to store excess pounds in the belly. Does this sound familiar?
After the teenage years you don't normally acquire new fat cells.
For most women extra weight accumulates in the pelvis, thighs and buttocks due to female hormones. This fat storage helps support child bearing and breastfeeding. As young children, boys and girls tend to have approximately the same amount of body fat, distributed evenly, but as puberty strikes, women gain body fat at a much faster rate than men. By age 25, women have about two times the amount of body fat that men do. Girls usually gain the bulk of this body fat in the hips, thighs, butt and some also in their breasts. After the teenage years, you don't normally acquire new fat cells. The cells you do have expand as they store any excess calories you consume.
5 Types of Body Fat
1. Brown Fat: This is the good fat which provides cellular energy and can be found at the back of the neck and in the chest area. It is also known at brown adipose tissue and is responsible for our core temperature.
2. Beige Fat: Found along the spine and collar bone this fat. With exercise, the hormone Irisin (also known as the "excursive hormone") is released, which converts white fat to beige fat.
3. White Subcutaneous Fat: This fat stores calories and produces adiponectin, another hormone, that helps the liver and a muscles to manage insulin. Problems arise when there is too much white fat and the metabolism slows down. When this happens we start to gain excess weight - especially around the hip, tight and tummy area. This is the most difficult weight to lose.
4. Subcutaneous Fat: This is just under the skin and the fat that is used to measure body fat percentage. This fat can be found all of the body specifically the back of the arms, tights and bum. You want to avoid SF around the belly to prevent long term health risks such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
5. Visceral Fat: This is the more dangerous deep fat that is found around the abdominal organs. Although this is an essentail fat for overall health because it cushion and protects the organs, and helps keep your core temperature stable. It can also be worrisome when there is too much of it as it causes an increase in blood cholesteral.
Subcutaneous fat, especially on the lower body, is hard to lose, but will eventually respond to a classic strategy of eating less and moving more. A 500-calorie deficit per day created by burning more calories and reducing what you eat generally yields a loss of 1 pound per week. Easy ways to cut calories include limiting sugary drinks and treats from the coffee shop, and choosing fruit or yogurt for snacks instead of processed chips or candy. 45 to 60 minutes of activity daily can help you burn even more calories. Also add as much movement as you can all day long, such as taking the stairs instead of using the elevator, standing while on the phone and walking at lunchtime.
What does 500 calories look like? Check out the infographic below:
The most common question that I get is "how can I lose weight in my “problem areas”? My favourite answer, Resistance training! This will strengthen and create muscle growth in your body, but may not directly burn fat from the “problem areas”. You simply can't target a region from where you'll lose that fat. Your body mobilizes fat stores from all over your body to use as energy, not from the specific place you're exercising. You're more likely to prompt weight loss all over your body with regular cardiovascular and resistance training that burns calories and thus raises your calorie deficit.
It's important to note that the place you gain weight first is usually the last place you lose it.
Although you can't target your lower body fat, strength training every major muscle group improves your body's ratio of lean mass to fat mass. The more lean mass that you have the faster your metabolism burns, making weight loss easier.
It is also important to note that the place you gain weight first especially for women, which is usually the lower body, is the place you lose weight last. The lower body is thus a well-known "trouble spot," but with consistent exercise and healthy lifestyle practices, you can achieve lifelong health and fitness.
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