TRANSFORM From Skinny-Fat To Lean & Muscular
Looking For Something?
9 Weird Ways To Burn Stubborn Fat For Good
TRANSFORM From Skinny-Fat To Lean & Muscular
I have some good news. The reason you can’t burn stubborn body fat might not be because you lack the iron grit or will power to push harder and do more.
It could actually be some things in your lifestyle working against you, causing your body to hold onto that lower stomach fat or those love handles no matter how active or how clean you’ve been eating.
So! In this article here’s what we’re going to cover:
FAT SAVES YOUR LIFE
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, I wanted to offer a new mindset shift for why we actually store body fat…
From a “looks” perspective, nobody wants anything to do with excess body fat! But get this, if our bodies weren’t able to store body fat, we’d all be dead (the harsh truth).
Fat is literally stored energy for times of stress, less food, insulation to maintain body temperature, and much more.
Fat is needed for survival.
Mindset shift: If you’re having trouble losing body fat, we must look outside of the box to see what could be causing this. Not get caught up in doing more cardio and eating (even) less food.
HOW TO GET RID OF LOVE HANDLES AND LOWER AB FAT
There’s really no such thing as “stubborn body fat” You either have excess body fat or you don’t.
Sure, everyone will store body fat differently and on different areas on their body. And for men, usually, the last place where we’ll lose fat is the stomach and midsection.
If you’re struggling with “love handles” lower back fat or excess fat on your chest and midsection as a whole, it really comes down to 2 things:
1) You still aren’t lean enough
2) You lack muscle development.
WHAT CAN MAKE YOU SKINNY FAT
Typically before I start working with a client, most are making a few big mistakes:
- Eating too few calories
- Cutting carbs
- Performing too much cardio
What happens then? Instead of losing that last bit of stubborn body fat, you begin losing muscle mass a well.
The result is simply you looking slimmer but still lacking definition and muscle development.
Here’s a clear picture of the scenario:
Done Correctly: Dial-in your diet and training to lose body fat and build muscle.
Done incorrectly: If you’re eating say 1900 calories and trying to burn 1000 on a peloton, you’re going to lose precious muscle in the process and wind up skinny fat.
FROM SKINNY-FAT TO SHREDDED IN 90 DAYS
Let’s take my client Andy for example…
Before Andy and I started working together he was already very active.
As he said in his application:
“I try to get in the gym 5-6x per week. I’m following a weight training plan my friend put together and I’ve seen good results – but not the results I’ve expected. I think that is because of my diet. I don’t think I’m eating enough / the right stuff. I generally try to eat healthy and meal prep – but I don’t think I’m eating enough and some times I just don’t want to reheat another meal prep meal.“
How I Improved Andy’s Nutrition
I quickly revamped Andy’s diet with more of what I like to call Pro-Metabolic foods (more on food choice in a moment).
Along with dialing in the right amount of calories (and protein, carbs, fats) for his training/rest days to torch the last bit of body fat.
Cleaning his diet up this way creates the perfect storm for more muscle and less fat.
Not to mention more energy, higher testosterone levels, and increased libido.
I also taught him simple strategies to navigate eating out at restaurants or if he was traveling to keep progress moving in the right direction.
How I Tweaked Andy’s Training
This is where the magic happened.
With only training 3 days per week in the gym, we cut all the BS and poured his hard efforts into the right exercises to build muscle evenly across his entire body.
We also established a progression model (most guys are missing this) so each workout built upon the last, and he added a total of 45+ lbs to his indicator exercises which resulted in incredible strength and muscle gains.
In short: More results in less time.
He still can’t wrap his mind around the fact that he was in the gym just 3 times per week!
Which was the key to his consistency even with his extremely busy work schedule.
If you’re interested in working with me 1 on 1 to help give you the extra support and accountability to accomplish your goals, A strong and muscular body.
Now that we’ve talked about why someone is stuck in this “skinny-fat” position, I’m excited to cover some of the main protocols that will help you lose body fat quickly and effectively while building more muscle.
#1 INFLAMMATION AND STUBBORN FAT
Now I know this word had been thrown around a lot lately, but I really wanted to give it some context and how it could be causing that last layer of fat, to be “stubborn.”
There is chronic and acute inflammation.
Acute would be when you get a cut on your hand or even after a workout. Your body would then signal to start the repair/recovery process (that would be considered good inflammation).
Now, if you’re consistently overloading yourself with physical and mental stress (and not recovering from it), a constant stream of inflammatory chemicals would create chronic inflammation in the body over time.
We’ll touch a bit more on this in the stress section below.
Here, I wanted to take a moment to talk about rancid oils in your diet.
Rancid Oils – One Of The Biggest Causes Of Chronic Inflammation
Think canola, safflower, peanut, sunflower, vegetable oils. These polyunsaturated oils are commonly used in restaurants and comfort foods.
Yep, sadly foods all the way from pizza, fries, ice cream to even “healthy” foods like protein bars, the hot foods section at Whole Foods, and most condiments contain these harmful oils.
The quick fix? Begin reading your labels and find better quality brands that don’t use these oils. For example, I’m a big fan of Primal Kitchen condiments, Boulder Canyon potato chips and Jeni’s ice cream. All made with healthy, quality ingredients.
When these oils are exposed to high heat and high pressures they become oxidized and rancid.
Which then promotes toxic substances in your arteries causing chronic inflammation and tissue damage in your entire body.
And even insulin resistance (more on this in the next section).
I’d say these oils are one of the biggest causes of you feeling tired or sluggish the next day if you consumed a lot of foods containing these oils in your meals the day before.
Lower Chronic Inflammation With Healthy Fats
You didn’t just run out of foods to eat. It simply takes a little extra effort to find better food alternatives, healthier brands, ask for substitutes at restaurants, preparing more of your meals at home and so on.
Next, would be to add healthier fats into your diet such as grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.
Some other awesome ones to cook with would be:
- Beef tallow
- Avocado oil
- Macadamia nut oil
Moderation is everything. Maybe you’re traveling or craving chipotle. That’s fine!
The reason I bring this up is so you can revamp your foundation. If you’re eating foods with these oils in them all the time, that isn’t moderation, it’s a habit.
And it’s most likely hurting your energy, hormonal levels, ability to burn fat easily, overall health, and progress.
#2 BLOOD SUGAR AND STUBBORN FAT
Ahh yes, blood sugar. Literally the link to longevity and numerous disease parameters.
I aim to keep things simple for this section. If your blood sugar (or glycemic variability) gets out of whack your body has two choices, store the sugar in your blood as #1 glycogen in your muscles and liver or #2 triglycerides (fat).
My main point? Sugar is not the problem. It’s how your body handles and controls sugar.
I’ll say that in another way if that sentence made you almost fall out of your seat.
Sugar in your food isn’t the core problem. Here’s a great article from my friend Ali Kuoppala on sugar and testosterone.
(YES! There is a difference in quality/more nutrient-dense foods as opposed to cake and donuts.)
Everything from bread, rice, bananas, yams, plantains, Mexican coke, coconut milk ice cream, sweet potatoes – it’s all sugar.
Most people might consider some of the above healthy food options. And it’s true they are! Congrats, you’re probably following more of a high sugar diet than you thought.
And here’s what happens when it enters your body, it’s either converted into glucose or triglycerides (fat).
Both can be used as energy when you are in a calorie deficit.
The focus should be eating more nutritious and better quality foods while improving your insulin sensitivity to better manage sugar.
There’s no escaping sugar. Your body needs it. Just as it needs nutritious whole foods.
Again, not processed white table sugar typically found in treats and packaged processed items. Heck, most of those contain the bad oils I mentioned above which ruin your insulin sensitivity.
Tips To Control Blood Sugar
Keep up the following, and you’ll be right on your way to use those carbs as energy and not having them stored as body fat:
- Strength training
- Walking after meals
- Standing (and adjusting to different positions while working)
- Cutting out bad oils (mentioned in the previous section)
- Following a consistent eating schedule
#3 MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES AND STUBBORN FAT
I wanted to add this section in here because I believe it’s important to talk about just as shifting your mindset on why the body would “want” to store excess body fat.
Mainstream fitness loves to focus on restriction.
The typical chicken and broccoli diet followed up with what you can’t do and can’t experience.
I flip the script.
What can you add into your ‘diet’ (so it’s actually sustainable for the long-term) so you can thrive!
And not just different vegetables and all the fruits but different superfoods like bone broth, oysters, organ meats, acai, maca, cacao, ginger, turmeric, the list could go on and on.
My point is, we live in a time where we can get the most exotic foods and nutrients from across the world with a click of a button.
Don’t limit yourself to just chicken and broccoli.
The Biggest Deficiency
Adding a variety of healthy, whole foods in your diet will cover most of your nutrients without the need for supplements.
I do find supplements very useful and helpful after you’ve established a healthy diet in the first place.
If I had to point the finger at one thing that most people are lacking in which helps keep a healthy, robust metabolism and high energy levels, it’s Sunlight.
Most people have a light deficiency (it’s the reason in the wintertime you can catch a nice wave of seasonal depression and flu season).
Supplementing with Vitamin D can be helpful (make sure it has Vitamin K2 in there as well for better absorption) but nothing can beat direct sun exposure as it allows your body to synthesize serval different forms of Vitamin D that you can’t get from oral supplementation.
20 minutes each day of direct sunlight exposure is all you need (weather permitting).
And hey, everyone looks better with a nice tan.
#4 CORTISOL, STRESS AND STUBBORN FAT
If I had to only choose one section out of this article, it would be stress.
In these times it’s so easy to get “stuck” in flight or fight mode…
But it may not be from a tiger or something in the wild.
When your body is stressed, it’ll release hormones such as cortisol to trigger functions for your survival.
Think: Faster reaction time, laser focus, rapid decision making, high blood pressure, etc. Which could be great for hitting that office deadline, sprinting, or lifting heavy weight.
What also happens during this stress response is that the body down-regulates digestion, immune function, and protein synthesis (building muscle).
Let’s check out some of the more common day to day stressors that I’m sure you’ve encountered before.
Day To Day Spikes Of Cortisol
- Pressure in your career/workplace
- Loss of something (job, loved one, etc.
- Relationship conflict
- Too much social media
- Emotions such as anger, boredom, hunger, fear, anxiety
- Toxins & pollutants from foods and environment
- Poor breathing habits (short, shallow mouth breathing)
- Uncomfortable, restrictive clothing and shoes
- Lack of encouragement or love from others
- Hyping yourself up too much before every activity (big or small)
Why Stress Keeps You From Burning Stubborn Body Fat
I’ve had a number of clients do everything right to a T before working with me but still couldn’t drop that last bit of stubborn body fat.
The issue? They didn’t put an emphasis on reducing cortisol levels.
The reason stress and cortisol prevent you from dropping those last few pounds is that cortisol and chronic stress begins to cause insulin resistance.
In other words, it begins to ruin your body’s ability to shuttle glucose into the cells.
Which then leads to weight-loss resistance, increased inflammation, hypertension, and dyslipidemia (elevated blood fat and cholesterol levels).
Simple Ways To Start Lowering Cortisol Levels
You may be overdoing things on the exercise, cardio, diet, and other areas of life, which may need adjusting, but we’re only as strong as what we can recover from.
Here are a few simple ways to help reduce cortisol levels and improve recovery. Some may be obvious, but are you doing them well and often enough?
- Quality sleep
- Breathwork (such as box breathing)
- Improving your diet + quality water (don’t drink tap)
- Power Naps (brain.fm is great for these)
- Nurturing Relationships
That isn’t to say we shouldn’t do anything, ha! Let’s cover why not moving enough can also hurt your ability to get rid of stubborn body fat.
#5 NOT MOVING ENOUGH AND STUBBORN FAT
Eat less, move more. It’s the general fat loss advice we see everywhere. Sadly, it can be taken to extremes (which is coming up in the cardio section).
There is a lot of truth to it though – you must expend more energy than you take in (eat) so you burn the excess body fat.
The secret? You need to do it in a non-stressful way. Or in other words, low-level physical activity throughout the entire day.
If you’re sitting for 8 hours a day on top of the commute to work, you’re gonna be in bad shape, from a physical and health perspective.
Even if you’re sitting for half and standing for the other half, you still need more low impact activity such as…
- Frequent breaks for walks outside
- Sitting in different positions (or on a swiss ball)
- Standing in different positions
- Breaks for stretches
- Quick burst of air squats or jumping jacks.
Scatter these throughout the entire day and you’ll be set with bringing your daily activity level up in a non-stressful way.
The reason being, this also plays into blood sugar and fat burning that we discussed above, if you’re sedentary for long durations of time, this can get a bit messy.
Being sedentary for most of the day and just working out doesn’t cut it. Your body needs to move more.
#6 NOT ENOUGH COLD EXPOSURE AND STUBBORN FAT
Cold thermogenesis is a new favorite secret weapon of mine for staying lean while adding muscle.
It can also help get rid of that last bit of stubborn body fat.
A few benefits on top of burning body fat from cold exposure are:
- Lowered inflammation
- Improved recovery
- Boosted immunity (stay back rona)
- Iron grit/willpower
If you don’t have a fancy cold tub you can create a similar effect in the shower…
10 seconds hot to 20 seconds cold, repeated for a total of 5 minutes.
Or a 2 minute cold shower in the morning and once again in the evening.
Just like working out, the cold is good stress on the body and helps mobilize fat tissue more effectively (especially if done in the morning before your first meal).
A perfect schedule I like to follow is daily cold showers and once per week, hop into a cold tub. To get the effect, the water should be under 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
#7 CHRONIC CARDIO AND STUBBORN FAT
As you see from the picture above, there is a clear difference in the build of a sprinter compared to the long-distance runner.
We’re gonna break down exactly why in this section. Excessive cardio is something that most get caught up in. Heck, it may get as extreme as tracking your calorie burn during a weight lifting session (not really needed).
The problem? This goes hand in hand with stress and inflammation. And of course, making it very easy to lose fat AND muscle at the same time (hence, the skinny fat look).
This is based on something known as the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands). Which basically means the body always wants to become very efficient to the task at hand.
The SAID Principle
If you’re constantly running and doing excessive amounts of cardio – your body wants to get better at that.
Your body thinks, “oh we’re running really long distances, I guess I don’t need this muscle mass.”
And you know what a really good source of fuel is for long-distance? Fat.
It’s literally forcing your body to shed muscle and become more prone to store body fat so it can use it as a fuel source.
And the not so fun part, if you continue to do more and more long bouts of cardio, with increasing intensity and frequency – your body will also begin to down-regulate testosterone and growth hormone.
But wait, it gets even messier.
If you lose muscle mass, you’ll end up burning less fat overall and this will decrease your metabolism.
And because of your body wanting to get more efficient, the stored body fat will become more and more difficult to burn with each cardio session.
The Best Cardio For Burning Stubborn Fat
If you’re skinny fat, cutting the excessive cardio and hitting the weights will immediately start to work game-changers for your transformation.
Now, that’s not to say all cardio is bad for you. In fact, HIIT (high intensity interval training) is the best for melting stubborn body fat clean off your body.
Just don’t overdo it of course!
2-3 sessions per week lasting no more than 30 minutes is a perfect mark to combine with strength training to lose that last bit of body fat and build lean muscle.
My personal favorite is 1-2 sprint workouts per week.
#8 LACK OF SLEEP AND STUBBORN FAT
We all know the importance of sleep and wanted to touch on it once again for the sake of this article.
It literally allows you to recover from pretty much everything we talked about thus far – inflammation, stress, your workouts, etc.
If your sleep starts taking the back burner, this is literally like pouring gasoline on the burning fire of stress and inflammation. Wildfire will run rampant.
And it will actually cause your body to be more susceptible to fat storage (speaking on behalf of your insulin sensitivity).
Research has shown that sleeping between 4 to 5 hours per night on average increases insulin resistance.
YOu probably have experienced this first hand, when you’re super tired, you reach for extra snacks and pick me ups, which doesn’t help the issues of stubborn fat in the first place.
Ideally, you should be aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Quality Sleep Is Also Important
Aiming for the number is one thing, but making the most out of the time in bed is everything…
Here are a few helpful tips for getting quality sleep each night:
-Establish a nightly routine to wind down.
-Limit blue light exposure a few hours before bed (from phone, tv, tablet, etc. Blue light blocking glasses are great for this).
-Eliminate noise pollution (white noise generators or fans do the trick).
-Don’t forget about light pollution either (blackout curtains, taping over device lights, etc.)
Lastly, the Oura Ring is a powerful tool to help you monitor your sleep each night to gauge your readiness and recovery for each day. Which will then help you improve your sleep more accordingly.
#9 TOXINS, CHEMICALS AND STUBBORN FAT
I’ll begin by saying that this section is the least important regarding how to get rid of stubborn body fat BUT very important when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
You may have heard of BPA before? One of the most common chemicals found in most plastics. Among many others such as PCB’s, parabens, phthalates, pesticides like DDE and DDT, they are all harmful to your body and hormones.
When your body is exposed to these substances they get stored in your body fat to protect other organs and tissue.
Maybe this will hit close to home? If you or yourself have witnessed someone on a rapid fat loss diet, they may have suffered from a skin rash, breakouts, or diarrhea.
As you mobilize fat, you also mobilize the stored toxins and chemicals.
Helpful Lifestyle Tips To Avoid Toxins & Chemicals
-Consume lots of berries and leafy greens. Fiber helps absorb and rid toxins from your body as they are mobilized
-Use only glass or stainless steel for drinking over plastics
-Avoid drinking tap water
-Store food in glass containers
-Opt for a deodorant without aluminum and natural hygiene products
-A Vitamin C shower filter can also help dry hair and skin
CLOSING WORDS ON HOW TO GET RID OF STUBBORN FAT
You made it to the end, congrats, you now know a lot more than the average person when it comes to building a body you’re proud of and living a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re struggling with being skinny fat, chances are, you need to lose that last layer of fat while building some muscle.
But you can’t lose muscle in the process so diet, training, and lifestyle factors need to be dialed in accordingly.
And remember, the above is meant to be worked into your lifestyle one step at a time. Please, reach out and shoot me a message, I’d be happy to answer any questions!
Thanks for reading, cheers!
TRANSFORM From Skinny-Fat To Lean & Muscular
TRANSFORM From Skinny-Fat To Lean & Muscular
About Trent McCloskey
I'm Trent, the creator of Train. Eat. Live. My mission is to empower people around the world to take control of their bodies and change their entire life’s course through fitness.
Interested in working with me? Click here.