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Where and Why Your Body Stores Fat + How to Shed Weight For Good

Jessica Gomes
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Fat. We dread that word and work so hard to keep it off of our bodies through diet and exercise. Yet at times, you still collect fat in unwanted areas. Whether you wear it more around your tummy, hips or legs, where you carry your fat can tell you a lot about your health.
 
We have heard of the “apple” shape or “android obesity” commonly seen in males where fat collects around the abdomen, and the “pear” shape or “gynoid obesity” often observed in females where the fat collects around the hips, thighs, and glutes.
 
Both forms of obesity can be detrimental to your health. When fat accumulates in excess around these areas, it can lead to numerous health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and joint and back issues.
 

Two Types of Fat + How They Are Stored

When you ingest food, your body breaks down the particles and sends the fat through your bloodstream. This is when our bodies decide to either use these components to expend energy, or store them in fat cells called adipocytes. The number of adipocytes in the human body varies per person and is often decided by late adolescence.
 
Even though your body typically has a fixed number of adipocytes throughout adulthood, they can still fluctuate in size, either contributing to weight loss or gain.
 
When you consume food for energy and your body decides it is best to store it for later (instead of going through the metabolic process and turning it into energy to fuel your body), it is stored either deep in your body cavities, or just below the skin (aka subcutaneous fat).
 
The deciding factors in whether your body will absorb the fat or expend it as energy are the enzymes known as lipogenic (the “in” enzyme) and lipolytic (the “out” enzyme). We can thank subcutaneous fat for our cottage cheese thighs and for giving us that “pear” shape.
 

Apple Shape vs. Pear Shape + How This Impacts Your Health

 
Although the subcutaneous fat we endure on our tush and around our thighs is not aesthetically pleasing to our eyes, it is less dangerous than the fat that is stored deep in our cavities, which pushes against our abdominals and creates a sometimes hard, protruding belly.
 
For those who have the apple body shape, when they encounter stress, the stress hormones that get triggered release this abdominal fat, dumping too much fat at one time into the bloodstream. Too much fat dumping causes your body to overload you with cholesterol and puts you at an enormous risk for heart disease.
 
These abdominal fat cells are also the largest fat cells we have in our body, which correlate with insulin resistance. They can increase the release of insulin, which in turn puts you at risk for Type II Diabetes. Along with this, excess insulin encourages your body to reabsorb sodium through the kidneys, which can lead to high blood pressure.
 
If you have more of a pear body shape and hold more fat around your lower half, you are still at risk and can still acquire these same health issues. However, you can carry 40-60 more pounds of fat around the lower half before you reach the at-risk zone for the same health problems mentioned above.
 
Yet the issue with the “out” enzymes or lipolytic enzymes is that they tend to be lazy in areas below the waist, making it harder for us to get rid of those unwanted dimples and saddlebags.
 

An Important Reminder

 
Don’t get disheartened just yet! And don’t start reaching for fat-free food either. In the west, we are so afraid of fatty food and forget how important it is to consume the right fats to encourage a leaner body, healthy brain development, and proper function of our bodies processes.
 
Typical of our western mindset, we consume empty calories, processed foods, and foods that contain too much sugar. But they are fat-free! Why am I still gaining fat? Newsflash! Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does!
 

Here are 5 tips to help you shed excess weight and keep it off for good:

 

1. Avoid Excess Sugar

It’s simply not realistic to completely cut out sugar from your diet. Trying to do so may add extra stress to your daily life, which in turn can encourage fat production. However, you can lower your sugar intake by staying away from processed foods (these are so unhealthy all around), not reaching for the low-fat options (because they typically contain a higher sugar content), and moderating your splurge days.
 
Sometimes we need to indulge, and wine may sometimes be crucial. Have that glass of wine – just not the whole bottle. Take a bite out of that chocolate bar, just don’t eat the entire bar. Pick a day where you allow yourself to have that glass of wine and taste of chocolate, rather than creating a nightly habit of consuming these items.
 
It’s all about moderation.
 
If you have a sugar craving, grab some organic unsweetened whole fat yogurt (be sure to check for low sugar content), add three stevia drops, some fresh organic berries, and a spoonful of organic almond butter. The healthy fats and protein will help you feel satiated and satisfied without consuming added sugars.
 

It’s all about moderation.

 

2. Eat Smaller Portions

Remember when you were younger and your parents told you to finish what was on your plate? That’s not always the best idea. When you go out to eat, the portions that restaurants serve are often enough for two people to share. This is a western trend that is doing us more harm than good.
 
Try only eating half of the portion that is served to you, or if you are cooking a meal at home, only eat half of what you think you should be eating. If you are still hungry, you can go back and have some more of your healthy meal. But make sure you are hungry and not just eating to eat.
 
Often times, we mistake dehydration for hunger. For instance, try drinking a glass of water, waiting a few minute and seeing if you are really hungry or just thirsty. Also, note the size of plates you have at home. We often tend to fill our plates, so if you start with a smaller plate, there will be less space to fill.
 
We see obesity rates going up because of the serving sizes and the “supersize me” options that are given to us. Eat slowly – seriously, chew each bite 15 times before swallowing – relax, and enjoy every bite you put in your mouth. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you are full, so the slower you eat, the smaller the portion size you will consume.
 

3. Embrace Healthy Fats

Remember – fat doesn’t make you fat. Healthy fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, etc. do wonders for your body. They make you feel fuller longer and aid in weight loss, help with vitamin and mineral absorption, and encourage your body to function at its best. Not to mention, healthy fats have positive effects on your hair, skin, and nails!
 

4. Say No to Plastic Containers

You have all heard of BPA, Bisphenol A, but why is it so bad for you? Well, it is synthetic estrogen and an endocrine disruptor that interferes with your body’s hormones. It is what makes plastic soft, and it often lines not only plastic containers but that can of our favorite soda or jar of tomato sauce.
 
This hormone disruptor can make you gain weight in unexpected areas, and make it even harder to lose! Ditch the soda and be wary of the items you purchase in plastic containers or that are canned. Thanks to the health world, many companies are sporting BPA-free products, which is a relief!
 
Want to learn more about this scary fact and how you can avoid BPA in your food and beverages? Read this article.
 

 

5. Choose Organic Whenever Possible

By eating non-organic foods, you are introducing toxins and chemicals into your body. These toxins include pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, and all of these do nothing good for you. By switching to organic, you can eliminate these excess toxins, and your body can function how it is meant to by storing, using, and disposing of food how it normally should. Try to stick to organic fruits, veggies, and meats instead of reaching for the processed items labeled organic.
 
Read this helpful and informative article to learn about shopping healthy and everything you need to know about buying organic.
 
 
If you are having trouble with excess body fat, don’t get discouraged. Understanding how and why it happens is the first step to creating a plan on how you can also lose it. Use these five lessons as a starting point for your fat loss solution!
 

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Jessica Gomes

Jessica Lynn Gomes is a twenty‐something creative writer and health enthusiast living in Laguna Beach, California. As an athlete, she develops her own workout routines and practices a clean eating lifestyle. She is constantly experimenting in the kitchen, creating new ways to cook for her gluten‐free lifestyle, without sacrificing taste and nutrition. To get to know more about Jessica, head over to her personal blog, The Naked Bohemian.

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