Stubborn Fat Part II

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Stubborn Fat Loss Part II

In the Part I of this series, I mentioned how important cortisol management was. Control cortisol and you’re better equipped to burn stomach fat.

And when it comes to the love handles, building da sexay beach muscles and looking great naked, then you need to look at improving your insulin management.

When you hear the word insulin, you probably immediately think of diabetes.

(Or diabeetus, if you’ve seen this)

Insulin is a hormone, which basically allows blood sugar (glucose) to get into cells to provide energy.

It’s produced in the pancreas, and acts as a gatekeeper. When insulin is working well, your cells will store nutrients and allow for muscle growth and fat loss.

When it’s not working well, the opposite occurs – muscle growth stagnates, and the nutrients are stored within the fat call.

What actually occurs is your blood sugar levels remain high after a meal because the carbs you eat (which have now been turned into glucose in the body) are slowed down.

Now they won’t make it into your muscle cells. So carbs are now backed up in the body, and you become less efficient at storing your food as muscle. When that happens, they become stored as fat, as your body has nowhere else to store them.

This is what we call insulin resistance. To fix this, you need to work on your insulin sensitivity.

It’s a viscous cycle. Now that you are resistant, the carbs that are blocked up in your body are blocking your ability to transport protein ad amino acids unto your muscles so that they can grow.

You Still With Me? Good.

 

So because your muscles require energy to grow and repair, your body feels that it needs to create sugar. How does it do this? By breaking down existing muscle tissue to provide the sugar it thinks it needs.

Yep, insulin resistance sucks. I should know – after spending the majority of my teenage years smashing cereal and lollies, my insulin sensitivity is still suffering.

Here’s the best analogy that I’ve heard for insulin sensitivity (hat tip to T-Nation for this one)

Q: What do bouncers and insulin have in common?

A: The cells that make up our body are very similar to nightclubs.

Some nightclubs clubs welcome anybody with a smile. Others have a cover charge, a VIP list, and require certain connections just to gain entry.

Our muscle cells are the picky bouncers. Nutrients can’t just meander on through the Vegas strip and decide to enter any old muscle cell nightclub.

That’s NOT how it rolls. To get inside the muscle cell, it really helps to have insulin as your wingman.  If you do, you’re virtually guaranteed access.

Hang with insulin, and you’re in.

I get that bouncers can seem cold-hearted. However, they’re actually big softies deep down.

If you happened to catch your bouncer the moment a total babe gave him a kiss on the way in, he’s likely to be more sensitive than normal. Because of this, you and your posse will gain free entry, bypass the queue and find yourselves busting out the worm on the d-floor before you know it.

If however you happen to catch your bouncer after his girlfriend was caught cheating with the bartender in the change rooms, he’s likely to be insensitive to your request for entry and you’ll probably be denied.

Cool? Cool.

If you follow along with the bouncer story, then you understand insulin sensitivity:

Sensitive bouncers let more people into Club X.

Sensitive insulin receptors let more nutrients into Club Muscle.

If you’re goal is fat loss, then this is a GOOD thing. Because if you’re bouncer has crappy sensitivity, he will deny access and direct you to the 2nd-rate night club next door.

In your body’s case, that 2nd-rate nightclub is the fat cell. This means the nutrients are transported into the fat cell, causing fat gain.

So, let’s look at the three areas to work on to improve insulin sensitivity.

How Do We Fix It?

Diet

The first step – and the one that is often overlooked in favor of some new superfood – is carb management.

All foods will spike insulin. However carbs seem to have the worst effect on blood glucose levels and the insulin response. This is why I recommend an insulin reset for those with shitty sensitivity.

What is the insulin reset?

It’s a temporary period of low-carb dieting. For example, you would have zero carbs other than green vegetables for a period of 2-3 weeks.

Then, you would slowly introduce 30-70g of carbs on workout days, and keep it at 0g for non-workout days.

After one month, you can start to increase, depending on your results and how bad your insulin resistance was.

This protocol is incredibly effective for both muscle gain and fat loss. Remember, if you are managing your insulin well, you can build muscle easier (This is another reason I hate the dirty bulk that guys go through in an attempt to gain muscle – it ruins your insulin sensitivity. Get lean first, and bulk whilst staying lean)

Why does this work?

When you minimize carbs, you minimize your insulin secretion. And by keeping levels low, your body becomes more sensitive to insulin.

Then slowly, as your body adjusts, you can increase carb intake.

You have to earn your carbs, by creating better insulin sensitivity and by becoming lean.

Anything that raises insulin – what we refer to as insulinogenic – is obviously not good during the reset. Keep in mind BCAA’s are insulunogenic, and so are diet sodas, so watch your intake with both of those.

 

Training

When it comes to training for improved insulin sensitivity, forget cardio. You need to instead focus A) on diet and B) on strength training.

Follow the training guidelines I mentioned here, and add in 20-30 minutes of daily low-intensity cardio after the first month (Ideally post-workout, before any meals.)

 

Supplements

(NOTE: do not skip the insulin reset or the training recommendations and go straight to supplements. Supplements do exactly that – they SUPPLEMENT an already solid lifestyle and training plan)

There are several supplements that have been shown to help insulin sensitivity.

  1. Chromium. Chromium has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, and to even reverse many cases of Type II Diabetes. Doses of between 200-600mcg daily have been shown to work best.
  2. Cinnamon. Yeah, I know it’s not the latest superfood. But cinnamon will also help. Add in a few shakes to your coffee or tea, on your oatmeal, on your roast veggies, and I’ve even heard it tastes great on beef and chicken.
  3. Alpha Lipoic Acid. ALA – not to be confused with alpha linoleic acid aka omega-3 – is both a potent antioxidant and a superhero against insulin resistance. Tim Ferris claims to have used mega-high doses with his Four Hour Body protocol, however I would err on the side of caution with dosage. Aim for 2-3 x 300mg tablet per day, with meals.

 

IN CLOSING

There you have it – all about how to control insulin, lose the love handles and be better equipped to burn fat and build muscle.

 

What are your thoughts? Did you find this article helpful? Drop your questions or feedback in the comments below!

Talk to you in the comments!

Pete