By: Alexa Towersey
What does your body fat say about you? Health and fitness expert Alexa Towersey explains the connection between body fat and what it says about your health and hormones in the first in a series of articles on nutrition and lifestyle.
Every expert, personal trainer or nutritionist you have consulted with would probably have told you the same thing: outside of surgery, spot-specific fat reduction is just not possible. Fat is lost from all over the body and never in one specific place.
What if I told you that they were wrong – that scientific, spot-specific fat reduction does exist, though not in the way that you might think?
Ultimately, why we store fat and where we store it is a product of our hormones and their interaction with the environment – a combination of nature and nurture. When it comes to our bodies, our hormones either work for us or against us. And when even one is out of balance, it has a domino effect on the rest. Left unchecked, any kind of hormonal imbalance makes losing weight, getting enough sleep, and functioning well in our jobs and our lives impossible.
Hormones are constantly in flux, and are affected by all the choices we make in regards to our training, nutrition and everyday life – how long and how hard we exercise for, what we put in or on our bodies, what time we go to sleep, how much water we drink and how much we stress. Everybody is different, and responds differently to training stress and nutritional strategies. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. Hormones can explain why some men have “moobs” (man boobs) or develop a middle-aged spread, and why some women have slender stomachs but thunder thighs.
A high proportion of belly fat is correlated to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol – it could be down to a food intolerance, poor digestive health, over-training, dehydration or lack of sleep. Fat on the bottom and legs indicates too much oestrogen, and can be addressed by including lots of fibre and cruciferous vegetables in the diet, avoiding soy products and reducing exposure to environmental toxins by using natural, organic skin care. Back fat and muffin tops suggest carbohydrates are not well tolerated, and blood-sugar management – eating the right foods at the right time in the right amounts – is the key to success. Man boobs can indicate lower levels of testosterone, and can be reduced by avoiding beer, having a high protein diet and incorporating heavy weights into a training plan.
By understanding your body, and learning to listen to what it’s trying to tell you, you can create an individualised plan of attack to shift that stubborn fat and achieve your health and fitness goals fast, but in a safe and sustainable way. No more deprivation diets, hours on the treadmill or moving to a monastery in Tibet to escape all of life’s temptations. You have the power to create a lifestyle that’s all about you.
Next article: Why going on holiday could be the best solution for getting rid of that jelly belly for good!