1 November 2008

Move It & Lose It with Prof Trim

The real issue is not if you are fat, but where the fat’s gone
So you’ve put on weight – that happens when humans spend too much time in the good paddock. But the real issue is where the fat’s gone – to your belly, to your hips or to places unknown.

The average punter typically has around 50 billion fat cells stored in various depots throughout the body. The main ones are around the organs of the trunk (what's called visceral or internal fat); around the waist (called subcutaneous abdominal fat); and on the hips and buttocks (subcutaneous gluteal fat). Visceral fat tends to be much more closely linked with disease than the other type of subcutaneous belly fat that makes up a ‘pot belly’. Visceral fat is generally correlated with abdominal fat and can usually be picked up in waist circumference measures (so get that tape out).


Research shows that where you get fat depends largely on the genes you’ve inherited from your parents. ‘Apple’ or ‘pear-shaped’ people have parents that are generally shaped the same, and particular genes control for this. It means that no matter how you try, if you’re a natural pear, and you lose a good amount of weight, you’ll probably just become a smaller pear – never a smaller apple.

Asians may have more visceral fat than Caucasians. In one study from the International Journal of Obesity, it’s been shown that Japanese men have a higher proportion of visceral to subcutaneous abdominal fat than Caucasian men at the same level of overall body fatness. This is important because it has long been known that Asians have a higher health risk than Caucasians even if they have the same waist measurement and BMI.

Exercise decreases abdominal fat more than diet. A US study examined the question of whether a diet alone, or a diet with low or high intensity exercise has a differential effect on different fat cell depots. Obese women were given a low calorie diet, or a diet with exercise that amounted to the same number of calories as the diet alone. Fat cells in different parts of the body were examined to see if each of these regimes affected fat cells differently. The researchers found this was indeed the case. Although all groups lost about the same amount of weight, those given the exercise program as well as the diet tended to lose more from the subcutaneous fat cells around the waist, suggesting that these respond somehow differently to other fat cells. Because these are more linked to disease risk in women, this suggests that exercise might have a greater benefit for health improvements than diet in obese women.

Dr Garry Egger aka Prof Trim

For more information on weigh loss for men, check out Professor Trim.


xaniim said...

hummm... interesting... I have had somewhat the same type of experience... where I consistantly diet but fall off the excercise horse, so-to-speak... Even tho' I am still dieting, [and not excercising], I would 'gain' some weight back because of the lack of movement that would burn extra calories maybe or lower my metabolism? I am not sure - but I can excercise without dieting and not gain weight - I won't lose any either

Penny said...

Do you have some good exercises to help remove fat from the abdomin. Specifically exercises for women who are 60+ ?

Thanks for your attention.

GI Group said...

Hi Penny, there isn't one magic exercise that will do the trick, so it's probably worth having a couple of sessions with a personal trainer to design an exercise program tailored to your needs and fitness level. If money is an issue, team up with some buddies with similar needs and fitness levels and share the cost.

We asked Dr Joanna McMillan Price (co-author of The Low GI Diet) for some comments as she is often asked about this.

"Women tend to notice the most dramatic changes to their waistline around the menopausal years. Hormones can be blamed at least in part. They can’t be blamed for the excess fat laid down, but hormones are involved in changing where you store any excess fat. Oestrogen levels drop by some 90% during menopause and this change in the balance of hormones means that women tend to take on a more male pattern of fat distribution – less on the hips, thighs and limbs and more around the waist.

But middle-age spread is not inevitable, nor is the cause any different to weight gain at any other time of life. Aside from the change in fat distribution for women, the basic laws of biology apply: if you have gained weight over the last few years you have been consuming more kilojoules than you have been expending. Here are the best fat-burning exercises.

1.Lifting weights
One of the reasons for middle age spread is that we lose muscle as we age resulting in a declining metabolic rate. It’s not therefore surprising that lifting weights to maintain, or ideally to increase, your muscle mass can dramatically reduce the gain in body fat over time. A study of 164 American overweight women found that those who weight trained twice a week over a two-year period decreased their body fat percentage by 3.7%, while the control group who did no weight training experienced no change. Furthermore the weight-training group significantly reduced the typical gain in fat around the middle – they experienced a gain of 7% in intra-abdominal fat compared to 21% in the control group. Convincing evidence that lifting weights really can help to reduce middle-age spread.

2.Cardio exercise
Any exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you puffing and panting works the cardiovascular system – hence the term cardio exercise. This form of exercise is where you can push the intensity of your workout and expend the most amount of energy in a session. The more intense the workout, the more kilojoules are burned, so aim to work hard with the time you have. This doesn’t mean you have go running – if you a newcomer to exercise a brisk walk may feel hard, but as you get fitter you will find you can increase the pace and keep the exercise challenging. Whatever the mode of exercise use a scale of 0-10 to help you work at the right level – 0 is at complete rest and 10 is extremely hard. Aim to work at around 7-8 ie hard enough to have you puffing but not so hard you couldn’t keep it up for very long.

3. Yoga
Yoga is usually thought of in relation to flexibility or stress-relief rather than fat-burning, but a US study of 15,500 middle-aged men and women found that yoga may help to prevent middle-age spread in normal-weight people and may promote weight loss in those who are overweight. The normal-weight men and women who regularly practised yoga (at least 30 minutes one or more times a week) gained less weight over the study period of 10 years, than those who didn’t practice yoga. The results were more impressive for those who were overweight – those who practised yoga lost weight over the 10 years while those who didn’t gained over 6kg."

Fitness said...

That's really interesting. I had always heard that diet was 90% of weight loss. I'll have to look into this more. I definitely agree that cardio of an inportant part of any fitness routine. Thanks for the info!

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