A common (and annoying) phrase you’ll hear from many women, and metrosexual men. But is there any truth behind this? Is it possible that different people store fat in different places and if so, why? While cutting weight last year I began taking skin fold measurements using a body fat caliper and noticed that while we were both losing weight mine and Goats (my S&C coach Andy’s) fat ratios from different points on our body were very different. After a month or so it was clear that I held proportionally larger amounts of fat on my back and he held more on his triceps. I found this interesting and decided to do a bit of research, and the results were interesting.
Turns out that allegedly (I say this because fitness and nutrition information changes more often than Larry King's wives) there is a correlation between hormone imbalances and where exactly your body stores fat. This information can be extremely useful to see where your fat is and take from that the exact things you need to do in your diet or training to rebalance your hormone levels. Some people can usually tell where they hold more fat then elsewhere, but if you want to do it accurately then you can use some calipers. You can pick up a pair for about a fiver at www.theinternet.com. So lets go through each area and see what means what and what you can do to combat it.
Calibration point - Quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes
Fat on - Thighs and arse
Caused by - High oestrogen levels
Combat it with - This is the common one for women, seeing as they have naturally higher levels of oestrogen than men there is a higher chance of having an excess amount, however high oestrogen in men can have very negative effects, especially on athletic performance. To lower oestrogen levels:
- - Eat more organic foods. There are a variety of pesticides that produce oestrogen like effect on the body, buy organic to avoid this.
- - Stay away from dairy milk. There are some studies that suggest cows milk could be the cause of up to 80% of oestrogen consumed. This is just one of the many reasons why you should not be drinking dairy based products.
- - Increase fibre intake. Fibre binds to and promotes the excretion of bile from the intestine, which binds to oestrogen. So increase intake of both soluble and insoluble fibre (high fibre veg and whole grains).
Calibration point - Umbilical
Fat on - Stomach
Caused by - High cortisol levels
Combat it with - Cortisol as most people will know is the stress hormone which is the enemy not only for fat loss but for athletic performance (and health) in general. To reduce cortisol levels:
- - Chill out!! People who live stressful lives or get stressed easily have far higher levels of cortisol in their body. If you’re feeling stressed, do whatever you need to do to chill out; take a bath, watch a film, meditate, whatever!
- - Sleep well. This is another massive contributor to cortisol levels. Try and get a full night of high quality sleep (8+ hours).
- - Lay of the booze. No shit that alcohol is bad. This is just one more thing it does. Also your an athlete and shouldn't be drinking anyway...
- - Some foods are meant to reduce cortisol levels such as; salmon, omega 3, coconut oil, dark chocolate (whoop!), vitamin c (so citric fruit) to name a few.
Calibration point - Suprailiac and subscapular
Fat on - Lower external obliques (love handles) and upper back
Caused by - High insulin levels (insulin resistance)
Combat it with - This is my biggest problem. The best thing for this is simple, lay of the sugar and stick to a low carb diet. If your trying to lose weight carbs only after training.
Calibration point - Pectorals and triceps
Fat on - Chest and back of arms
Caused by - Low testosterone levels/androgen receptors
Combat it with - This is why women store more fat in their triceps than men (apparently if a women has sub 6mm skin fold caliper reading on their triceps its a pretty good indicator that they are on steroids. Interesting huh. *men start pinching their girlfriends arms*). Also more common for older dudes as test drops more and more as you reach middle age and above. This is a really important one for us athletes, no one really cares about having a bit of fat on their triceps, but we need testosterone! It's vital for strength, muscle growth and recovery. So how to raise it (naturally *before steroids*):
- Lift heavy shit. Lifting weights boosts your testosterone. I'm not sure on the science about this but my theory that lifting weights is manly as shit and the god of testosterone sees this and rewards you with more of the magic hormone.
- Sprinting. Much like lifting weights its pretty manly (more manly than jogging like a pansy for 40 mins). The god of testosterone sees this, and he is pleased.
- Catch some rays. Vitamin D has proven to have a positive correlation on testosterone levels. (Spray tans don’t count.)
- - Chill out! Cortisol's back again and this time its fucking with yo test levels. How to reduce cortisol can be seen above (if you’ve all ready forgotten....).
- - Lay of the booze. Booze kills ya test. Another reason to stay away.
Calibration point - Knee and calf
Fat on - Everywhere
Caused by - Low growth hormone levels
Combat it with - Growth hormone is another one that is vital for us athletes and another one that decreases with age. Luckily the god of growth hormone is brothers with the god of test so:
- Lift heavy shit. Squats and deads are king.
- Sprint like a mofo.
- Get your sleep! And good sleep at that. The majority of our natural growth hormone is secreted while you sleep so erratic or shorter sleep is going to affect levels.
Just to reiterate, this information is about holding disproportionate amounts of fat on some areas and the correlation that has to hormone imbalance. This does not mean you’re fat because your hormones are out of whack. If you’re a fatty then eat less food and exercises more. Fatty.