This was a chosen article my IG fans wanted me to write. It’s finally here. I’m talking about how you can get rid of the lower belly fat and your love handles if you’re a man, and your thighs, glutes and overall leg fat if you’re a woman (typically). I say “typically” because even the opposite occurs depending on many factors that I discussed previously in another blog post. (click here).
For the making of this article, I want to thank Lyle McDonald and his brilliant work. I owe all of my knowledge to him and I can write about this only after studying and applying what he’s taught & written in his own books.
Who should care about what's written here?
I know, I know you have stubborn body fat areas that you can’t wait to get rid of, however, since Stubborn Bodyfat is the last bit of body fat you’re going to burn, you need to get to the point where it’s actually the last “bit” of fat to burn. This means you need to lose the rest of your body fat first, then implement the strategies required to target stubborn fat areas. I know it sucks to hear this, but you need to be lean already. This means anywhere from 10-12% body fat for men, 17-20% for women. Up until that point, there’s no stubborn body fat protocol you should worry about. Any basic dieting approach and exercising routine will take care of you.
How do we lose fat?
With that said, to be able to understand how we can get rid of the stubborn fat, we need to understand how fat is lost, first.
Yes, I know that you are aware of the fact that body fat is lost by creating a dietary deficit for an extended period of time, infact, Stubborn Fat loss will work through the same principle, we can’t fool physics. However, for this last bit of fat, it gets a little trickier than just that.
Fat Oxidation (Burning)
I’m talking about the actual cellular process of fat loss.. I mean, have you ever wondered how does the process actually work?
If you didn’t, luckily for you Pheasyque comes at rescue, just like Superman. Actually I’m more like the Deadpool type of guy, but anyway.. The digestion of triglycerides begins in the stomach, where they are broken into two components, glycerol and fatty acids: one triglyceride will be broken into 1 glycerol and 3 fatty acids during a hydrolytic reaction done by the enzyme Lipase, which causes the chemical breakdown of fats through a reaction with water. Next, the glycerol and fatty acid will move to the small intestine so that they can be absorbed into blood circulation, where the glycerol and fatty acid will pack together to form a chylomicron, a lipoprotein whose role will be to transport the triglycerides to the liver. At this point, the liver will send the fats to the muscle cell to be burned for energy or to the adipose fat cell for storage through the LPL (Lipoprotein Lipase) and ASP (Acylation Stimulating Protein) enzymes. Fatty acids and glycerol are stored in adipose fat as “tri-glycerides” (one molecule of glycerol binds to 3 fatty acids) until they are needed for metabolic processes.
Since we’re trying to lose fat here, we need to pull the triglyceride out of the fat cell first then finally transport it to the places where it can be burned for energy (e.g. Mitochondria in the muscles or the liver). This process takes the name of Lypolisis, which is the breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids (fat loss).
Mobilizing the fat out of the fat cell:
Every chemical reaction that occurs in our body is done by enzymes, in fact, the one responsible for the mobilization of trigrlycerides out of fat cells is the enzyme Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) , which is regulated by the cAMP (Cyclic adenosine monophosphate) , which is a “messenger” involved in many biological processes, whose effectiveness is mostly regulated by two other main hormones: Catecholamines and Insulin, two antagonist hormones.
When Catecholamines are high, cAMP signal is high, HSL works great and mobilizes fat . On the other hand, when Insulin is high, cAMP signal is low, HSL activity is low and fat is not mobilized (or mobilized in very small amounts).
More on Insulin & Catecholamines:
is a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets, and it is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body.
What you need to know about it is that in this case, is that insulin works as an “inactivator“, or as “the HSL blocker“, even at very low concentrations. When Insulin levels are high, the mobilization of fat cells can’t happen. As Lyle mentions in his book, even fasting levels of insulin can inactivate HSL by 50%, while small peaks of insulin blunt it completely. However, before you start blaming insulin for your “poor” fat loss results and jump on a Keto diet to make up for that, know that Insulin (which goes up through carbohydrates and proteins consumption) is not the only one to have a negative impact impact on HSL, since even fat consumption can blunt HSL lypolitic effects.
How does insulin affect body fat ?
Different types of fat respond differently to insulin . For instance, Visceral fat is insulin resistant (which is good from a fat loss point of view), meaning that even when insulin is high, visceral fat is released and burned for energy, again, good thing. I believe this has to do with the fact that visceral fat is also the most dangerous one since it sits around our internal organs, so it makes sense that our body wants to get rid of it fast for survival purposes, but that’s just my idea. On the other hand, stubborn fat is not really dangerous, so it’s also a hell of a lot harder to get rid of it. Not to mention that it’s highly insulin sensitive, hence the reason why when insulin is high or even there at all, (stubborn) fat loss is completely blunted. At least in most cases.
If insulin is the HSL blocker aka the “bad guy“, Catecholamines are on the other hand the “good guys”. Known as Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline), the catecholamines are the ones which primarily activate the HSL so that fat can be transported into the bloodstream.
Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter produced by both the adrenal glands and other neurons, and affects different tissues, Noradrenaline is released by the nerve terminals which directly interact with the cells. Just like any other hormone, Catecholamines have their own receptors:
Kind of like “keys” have their keyhole. Even though these keys can open different keyholes.
In this case their receptors are called Adrenoceptors which are further divided into Alpha and Beta adrenoceptors, found in every single place of the body. Literally every single place.
There are many different adrenoceptors, but in this case since we’re covering the fat mobilization part, we will focus on the Alpha-2 and Beta-2, which are directly responsible for it.
Beta-2 Adrenoceptors and Alpha-2 Adrenoceptors
When catecholamines bind to Beta-2 receptors, cAMP increases and fat breaks down.
When catecholamines bind to Alpha-2 Adrenoceptors, cAMP decreases and fat breakdown decreases.
So, how can we tell wether Catecholamines bind to the "right" adrenoceptors or not?
They will bind to both, however, the results will vary depending on the amount of Alpha-2 to Beta-2 adrenoceptors ratio of the fat cells, found in that given area. An area of the body in which fat cells are richer in Alpha-2 adrenoceptors will inhibit fat mobilization more, just like a higher ratio of Beta-2 to Alpha-2 adrenoceptors area will allow fat mobilization to occur. 
At this point you should be able to figure out yourself that most stubborn fat areas contain fat cells richer in Alpha-2 adrenoceptors, while “easier-to-lose-areas” contain higher amounts of Beta-2 adrenoceptors. Quite infact, one of the main reasons why stubborn body fat is stubborn, is because the “stubborn” areas contain a larger amount of Alpha-2 receptors, which inhibits the mobilization of fat. And unfortunately, that’s not the only reason..
Wait, there's more?
Just like I was about to say, being able to pull the tryglicerides out of the fat cell doesn’t do much if you’re not able to actually mobilize it to the places where it can be burned.
Quite infact, if there’s not good blood flow to literally move the triglyceride away from the fat cell, our body will be ready and glad to re-store the fatty acids through a process called re-esterification .
Blood flow and body fat:
Stubborn fat areas, besides having higher Alpha-2 to Beta-2 receptors, also have poor blood flow, and the amount of blood flow to different parts of your body actually determines how much fat you can lose in that specific area. Areas that receive more blood flow generally lose fat easier, and vice versa. Lower body fat (legs) in both males and females has about 67% less blood flow, and has 87% less hormone sensitive lipase activity (HSL)   . If you remember, HSL is the enzyme which actually helps release fat from cells, so yes, that means that even men tend to lose lower body fat slowly, even though the amount of fat carried there is much less in %, so we (men) tend not to worry about it, unless we’re talking about Bodybuilding competitions. In other words, stubborn fat is stubborn for two main reasons:
1) Because it contains more Alpha-2 to Beta-2 receptors, which inhibit fat loss.
2) Blood flow is way less than in other areas of the body, so the mobilization is way more difficult to make happen.
They basically activate the cAMP, which then sends a signal to the HSL depending on which hormone is produced the most: when Catecholamines are high, Insulin is low, cAMP is high, HSL is high and fat is mobilized. When Insulin is high, Catecholamines are low, cAMP is low, HSL is low and fat mobilization is impaired.
If we hypothesize that everything goes as planned and we’re able to activate the HSL, these Catecholamines then have to bind to their own receptors, the “Adrenoceptors” (Alpha-2 and Beta-2), found in the fat cells, which are responsible for fat release or inhibition: Alpha-2 receptors inhibit fat mobilization, while Beta-2 receptors allow fat mobilization. When it comes to stubborn fat areas, the fat cells contain higher amounts of Alpha-2 to Beta-2 receptors, not allowing fat to be released, hence one reason why stubborn fat is fat.
The second reason is the poor blood flow that surrounds the areas, which is required (after the actual mobilization of the triglyceride out of the fat cell) to make them bind to the Albumin protein, which takes it to travel to the points where it can finally be burned for energy (liver/muscles). If we can pull the fat out of the cell but fail to move it to the mitochondria or the liver to burn it, our body will simply restore the triglycerides in the fat cell, through a process called re-estiration.
Your brain is probably exploding right now and I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure you’re also excited because now we’ll see what we need to do, to finally get rid of the Stubborn Fat.
Stubborn fat loss checklist:
- Increase Catecholamine production and activate fat mobilization through HSL activity.
The Catecholamine will bind to their own receptors, in this case Alpha-2 (fat inhibiting) and Beta-2 (fat releasing) adrenoceptors: the balance between activation of the Alpha-2 and Beta-2 receptors will determine the overall level of lipolysis within a tissue.
Two are the things we can do at this point, to target stubborn fat areas:
A) Either inhibit Alpha-2 receptors: basically inhibit the inhibitors so that the fat can get released, or..
B) Increase Beta-2 receptors’ stimulation, for them to release the fat.
At this point, once we’ve been able to mobilize the fat out of the cell, we will need to increase blood flow in the stubborn areas to move the triglycerides to the fat burning “spots” through exercising. In “fitness” words, we basically need to find out how we can replicate these things through the manipulation of our diet, training & supplementation, and in Lyle’s brilliant book, we can find many different strategies:
1st Protocol: Low carb diet + Cardio:
When it comes to dieting, many are the strategies that can be used to target SF areas. First one has to be a low carb diet or Ketogenic diet, which naturally increases Catecholamine production decreases Insulin (thanks to the low/no carb consumption), and tends to inhibit Alpha-2 receptors while increasing blood flow in the stubborn areas.
This, coupled with a LISS (low intensity steady state) can definitely do wonders, especially if you supplement 100-200mg of Caffeine + 1-3g of L-Tyrosine 30-60 minutes prior, to speed things up. Caffeine and Tyrosine will increase Catecholamine production, while the cardio will burn the fat. It’s sounds perfect if it wasn’t for the fact that dieting on low carbs SUCKS. Anyway, here’s a recap of the what you should do:
- Eat a low carb diet: your daily carbohydrate intake doesn’t exceed 20% of your total daily caloric intake.
- NOT necessary but can help: You can supplement with Caffeine (100-200mg) and 1-3g L-Tyrosine to speed things up 30-60 minutes before cardio.
- 40-60 minutes of LISS cardio at 130-140 Heart Rate.
- You can eat immediately after.
- The protocol can be performed daily.
Fasted Cardio + Yohimbine HCL
For the Carb lovers, the same scenario of the Alpha-2 adrenoceptors inhibition and increased blood flow can be mimicked through the supplementation of Yohimbine HCL : a fat burning compound used to target the stubborn fat areas .
Low carb dieters can supplement this too, it’ll work just as fine, but be aware of the fact that carbs can be eaten when Yohimbine HCL is brought into the equation.
What is Yohimbine HCL?
Yohimbine is an alkaloid derived from the bark of the Pausinystalia yohimbe tree in Central Africa, and dosages of 0.2mg/kg bodyweight have been successfully used to increase fat burning without significant implications on cardiovascular parameters like heart rate and blood pressure.
One thing to mention is that Yohimbine HCL is not legal everywhere around the world, so if you want to start experimenting with it you’ll need to see whether you can purchase it or not in the first place. If you can’t get it, stick to the first protocol mentioned above. A second thing to mention is that Yohimbine HCL is not the same as what’s sold as “Yohimbe” or “Yohimbe bark”. The HCL version tends to avoid most of the side effects found in the other versions. A third thing to mention is that Yohimbine HCL’s effects get completely neglected with food intake, hence the reason why I said fasted cardio in the sub-title. This compound is highly stimulatory and it’s generally used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), and some people might even experience weird tingles/boners while doing cardio – YES, I’m serious, and yes it’s normal.
The dosage should be taken all at once, at 0.2mg/kg of bodyweight 30-60 minutes before cardio, and it can be stacked with 100/200mg of caffeine + 1-3g of L-Tyrosine to speed things up.
What type of training should you do when supplementing Yohimbine HCL?
I’d always recommend using it prior to some cardio on non-weight training days, or days where all you do is some light cardio. If you really want to do cardio on weight training sessions, then have your weight training session first, then take the Yohimbine HCL, wait around 30 minutes and start doing some cardio. This compound will raise your heart rate up quite a bit so using it on heavy weight training days won’t be a very good experience: you’ll feel like your heart will be ready to explode out of your chest.
Can everyone use it? Is it safe? What to expect from it?
Yohimbine HCL Stubborn fat protocol recap:
Clinical dosages have shown results at 0.2mg/kg, which will be way higher than the recommended doses found in the bottles. Also, most companies sell YHCL in 2.5mg/caps, so don’t feel too weird if you’ll have to eat 6 to 7 caps every time. Both women and men can use this compound safely, but everyone needs to build the dosage up slowly: start off with half the dosage, then build it up to assess tolerance. Expect your heart rate to go up quite a bit since it’s a stimulant.
- Yohimbine can cause extreme anxiety in individuals predisposed to anxiety.
- Yohimbine can interact with a large amount of neurological medications and should not be used in conjunction with these medication without consultation with a doctor.
- The actual dose of yohimbine in many supplements has been found to vary from the labeled dose from 25-150%.
- Take 0.2mg/kg of Yohimbine HCL first thing in the morning (30-60 min pre cardio). If you can’t do cardio in the morning then wait at least 3 hours after your last meal and then take it: remember that food will completely blunt its effects, hence the reason why you want to do the cardio fasted.
- It can be stacked with Caffeine (100-200mg) and L-Tyrosine to speed things up.
- 40-60 minutes of LISS at 150-160 heart rate.
- You can eat immediately after.
- The protocol can be performed daily.
Well that’s it! you now know more than 90% of the people in the fitness industry when it comes to stubborn fat. I hope you enjoyed the article, and most importantly that you’ve learned something new to add to your “fitness knowledge stack”. That’s it for this one, see you in the next one!