Being fat was never cool. It doesn’t look good and neither does it feel good. Let us show you how to lose stubborn belly fat fast and get to single digit body fat, the holy grail of fat loss.
Being fat (or overweight or obese; however way you want to categorize it) puts you at a higher risk of heart-disease, diabetes and cancer (all positively backed by medical science).
This is just the tip of the iceberg as there are other myriads of diseases and health-risks that are associated with a high body-fat percentage. In this article we are going to focus on body fat and how it adversely affects your testosterone levels.
Out of all the problems surrounding high body-fat percentage; we will focus on its impact on hormones, specifically testosterone.
Analyzing Body Composition & Body Fat
Body composition is one topic that is very important for someone looking to build a good physique. A good muscular physique that shows off your hard-work in the gym requires you to be at a lower body-fat.
Here, it is important to acknowledge the fact that there is a difference in being fat and eating fat. Being fat constitutes as a body composition problem. Keeping your body weight as a base, you have a higher percentage of body fat.
The other fat (notoriously known) is dietary fat that we consume as food. This one is a macronutrient and must not be confused with being fat!
- 1. Subcutaneous Fat: The fat under your skin. The one that jiggles and the one you can grab/pinch!
- 2. Visceral Fat: This is the fat deposited on your organs. You can’t really see this type of fat as it is inside you! This type of fat is what contributes to the risk of chronical diseases.
The Not So Loving Relationship Between Body Fat & Testosterone
Well, as the heading says, it’s a relation not worth mentioning since body fat and testosterone have an inverse relation. Let’s try to analyze what causes this crash of testosterone in individuals with a high body fat percentage.
Aromatase & Body Fat Levels
The responsible party is an enzyme called Aromatase. Also known as estrogen synthase, this enzyme is responsible for the biosynthesis of estrogens. Now we all know what estrogen does to us testosterone driven simpletons, looking to pack on lean muscle!
On one side we’re trying to optimize our testosterone levels to induce protein synthesis while on the other side aromatase is working against the system; trying to convert testosterone into estrogen.
Another role aromatase plays: it increases the production of Leptin which is a hormone primarily responsible for signaling hunger.
In a very weird sense, this means that the fatter you are, the hungrier you are going to be owing to the increased Leptin production.
Again, production of Leptin and Testosterone has an inverse relation. Which means that high body fat acts like a double-edged sword. It makes you hungrier and it suppresses your testosterone by introducing greater quantities of estrogen and leptin in your body.
The Problem with Low DHT & Body Fat
DHT or Dihydrotestosterone is another powerful androgen that is man’s best friend. DHT’s role includes:
The bad news is that higher belly fat directly affects DHT. It neutralizes the hormone by converting it to 3β-diol. A research study concluded:
"In conclusion, 5α-DHT inactivation was detected in abdominal adipose tissue in men, and higher Om adipose tissue 3α/β-HSD activity was found in obese men. The expression of several enzymes involved in local androgen metabolism was also detected, with AKR1C1, AKR1C2, and AKR1C3 having especially high expression levels and large depot-differences compared with other enzymes measured."
How to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat Fast and Get to Single Digit Body Fat
On one end of the spectrum (> 20%) you have risks of having hormonal problems as well as life-threatening diseases but on the other side of the spectrum there is a possibility of having too little body fat.
This is true especially in the case of body builders who diet down to single digit body fat especially in the region of < 6%. Now, this can be problematic if such a percentage is sustained for a greater extent of time so the advice is: get done with your show and try to reverse-diet into a healthier body fat percentage.
For people dealing with high bodyfat percentage, this should be their strategy to lower their body-fat:
- Go for a long, sustained (5% ~ 15% caloric deficit) diet that is based on healthy food choices. Such a diet has minimal impact on your hormones.
- Macro-nutrient breakdown is essential during cutting so try to aim for 1 ~ 2 grams / lb of protein, coupled with 20 ~ 25% of calories coming from fat. The rest is filled in by Carbohydrates.
- Stress levels should be maintained as they can trigger Cortisol production.
- Alcohol can steal your gains! Manage your alcohol intake responsibly.
- Fat-loss is accompanied by muscle-loss. The goal should be to minimize muscle loss by proper nutrition (While taking care of your micro/macro nutrients).
- Crash diets or highly restrictive diets with caloric deficits larger than 20% of your total TDEE should be avoided. Studies do show them to be beneficial but a longer sustained diet is better.
- Never under-estimate sleep (quantity and quality). It is one of the un-sung heroes when it comes to muscle-building.
- HIIT training style is preferred during cutting. Short workouts with high intensity (based on adequate weekly frequency) should be followed.
- Make use of refeeds or semi-cheat days to make sure you don’t crash & burn during your cut!