Spot Reduction: The Legend; The Reality

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

You may have heard that Spot Reduction is a myth. That spot reduction is not possible and anybody claiming it to be such is incorrect.

This question came from an observant reader who asks…

QUESTION:

Marc,

Why is EVERYBODY saying that spot-reduction is a myth? One of the other blogs I read from another fitness expert says that spot reduction is possible!

Is Spot Reduction Possible?

Spot Reduction: Fact or Fiction?

He said “Current research is now finding that when you work a specific muscle, the intramuscular fat and the fat in that general area is where the body derives fuel for that exercise.

In other words, if you work your abdomen – you’re working those muscles in the area – the body turns to your belly fat for the most help in long-term fuel for that exercise.”

His exact words are that “if you do ab exercises (sit-ups, etc.), your body will use abdominal fat as fuel (glycogen) for that exercise, thereby burning it.”

In other words, the shedding of fat is not uniform all over your body!

To what extent is this true?

Thanks, and I look forward to your replies and analysis,

Mike

ANSWER:

Your fitness expert above is correct. Spot reduction at the very basic level has been proven to be true in a single study done in 2007. But before you run off and try the routine listed above you need to know a few more things.

After reading the comments on the news story above, it appears the only study I found was the same one referred to in the story.

One study does not make something a fact. 2007 isn’t exactly current either. 4 years after the single study, no other studies have been done to further the findings. My guess?

Not because it wasn’t proven to be true in theory but for the actual real-world usage of such a scenario.

Another expert and author in the field, Lyle McDonald at Bodyrecomposition.com, took this same study in 2007 and wrote about it in detail in 2009. ( McDonald is the author of The Ketogenic Diet, The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, The Guide to Flexible Dieting and several other nutritional books.)

Lyle said, “Yes, there appears to be an effect whereby working a given muscle impacts on local fat cell metabolism but the effect is completely and utterly irrelevant in quantatitive terms. The amount of fat mobilized due to increased hormones or blood flow is simply insignificant to anything in the real world.”

The amount of fat mobilized due to increased hormones or blood flow is simply insignificant to anything in the real world.

Additionally, the news story mentions picking different abdominal exercises and recommends “perform and reach muscular failure.”

Another ab expert, David Grisaffi, C.H.E.K., CFT, PN, and author of the book Firm and Flatten Your Abs… said in regards to training your abdomainals and core to failure…

“One of the biggest problems with training the core and abs to failure is that the more fatigued you become, the more your form begins to break down. When your form breaks down, that is when injuries are most likely to occur. This is true for any exercise, but it may be truer for abs and core than any other type of exercise due to the susceptibility of the lower back.

Research by Dr. Laurence Morehouse of University of California at Los Angles found that when doing abdominal exercises, especially sit-ups, you over-work your hip flexor muscles – the psoas and the iliacus. When the exercises are performed quickly (form breaks) or all the way to failure (form breaks), the hip flexor’s pull on the lower back is increased.

When performing your core exercises, always be conscious about form, especially as you begin to get tired toward the end of a set. You should terminate your set at or before the point where you notice that your form breaks in the slightest, and that is usually a couple of repetitions before reaching muscular failure.”

So let me summarize and review ….

Spot reduction based upon a single 2007, peer reviewed, published article appears to be valid. However, based upon the results of the study in question, the benefits are not significant to real-world usage.

Furthermore, based upon David Grisaffi’s recommendation of abdominal training, do not train your abdominals or core to muscular failure. Stop short and keep your form intact.

I stronly enourage you to read the references listed and come to your own conclusions.

Sincerely,

Marc David
author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Research References:

Do This – Burn Fat. How to Spot Reduce Belly Fat (Is It Possible?). From http://dothisburnfat.com/blog/spot-reducing-belly-fat/

Stallknecht B et. al. Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans? Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb;292(2):E394-9. From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16985258

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Lose Belly Fat with Green Tea?

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Lose Belly Fat with Green Tea

There’s been many debates on the magic effects of green tea and weight loss but hardly anybody argues the benefits of drinking some green tea.  However, a February 2009 an abstract study published in The Journal of Nutrition, supports the weight loss concept specific to the subcutaneous abdominal fat area (calorie deficit + exercise) and shows that belly fat may be the first to go!

I always recall Dr. Chis Mohr saying “that one study doesn’t prove anything and an abstract proves even less!”

Researchers took 132 “obese” adults.  They all consumed roughly the same amount of calories and participated in 180 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.  The participants were randomly assigned to receive a beverage containing ~625 mg of catechins with 39 mg caffeine or a control beverage (39 mg caffeine, no catechins) for 12 weeks.

Hint: Catechins, an antioxidant, is the main component of green tea.

After just 12 weeks, the group drinking the green tea had the most overall loss of body weight, 4.4 pounds compared to the control group with a little bit over 2 pounds!  But before you get too excited…

Percentage changes in fat mass did not differ between the catechin and control groups.

However, percentage changes in total abdominal fat area, subcutaneous abdominal fat area, and fasting serum triglycerides were greater in the catechin group.  That means…

These findings suggest that green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced changes in abdominal fat and serum triglycerides.  But there’s something you should know about the different types of abdominal fat.

Visceral fat is stored deeper in the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs, whereas “regular” fat is stored below the skin (known as subcutaneous fat). Visceral fat is particularly unhealthy because it is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.

Green tea is healthy, but the fact is, we don’t know how much green tea affects actual weight loss in the long term, and “your personal mileage may vary.” If you choose to use green tea as a potential weight loss aid, it’s important to keep realistic expectations, consume the proper dosage of a standardized green tea extract or the equivalent in drinking tea, and remember that it’s buyer beware when it comes to the claims made and prices charged. - Tom Venuto; CPT


What This Means To You:

With every new study, questions arise as to how it was conducted.  Did researches ensure the participants ate roughtly the same?  Or were they allowed to go home and self-monitor?  Did some workout harder than others?  Did some say they ate the same but really consumed much less or more?

This isn’t the end-all-be-all of green tea studies but research continues to show positive beneifts of green tea consumption linked to longevity, breast cancer, diabetes and weight loss.

But before you run out and buy some at the grocery store, realize that not all green teas are the same.  Not all brands will contain the necessary amounts to reproduce this study.  In fact, many store bought brands only label the product as “It contains green tea.”  They don’t tell you how much, the source or the real golden nugget of how many Catechins are contain per serving.

What You Should Look For When Shopping for Green Tea:

After reading a very obscure Green Tea report by Tom Venuto.. one heck of a hard one to find. He sums it up saying:

“What you should look for is a specific amount of EGCG or a percentage standardized extract (and then you can just do the math). For example, 60% standardized extract of 450 mg total is 270 mg of EGCG, which is the amount that was used in the research. Diet supplement expert Will Brink recommends looking for 60% polyphenols with EGCG amounts listed as the marker compound.”

Most research shows that drinking 4-5 cups a day is enough to get the health benefits and obtain some of the potential weight loss benefits.

But green tea isn’t the ultimate solution when it comes to belly fat.  While it can provide some stimulus and I personally don’t overlook it, Mike Geary lays down the law when it comes to the long term solutions.  So you can go ahead and experiment with Green Tea.  But your milage may vary.

“The ONLY solution to consistently lose your abdominal fat and keep it off for good is to combine a sound nutritious diet full of unprocessed natural foods with a properly designed strategic exercise program that stimulates the necessary hormonal and metabolic response within your body. Both your food intake as well as your training program are important if you are to get this right.” - Mike Geary; CPT

Grab a free and unique Fat Loss Secrets Report at How to Lose Flabby Abdominal Fat

To Your Health,

Marc David
Author of The NoBull Bodybuilding Program
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

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