"Starvation mode", regular eating, fasting & stubborn belly fat loss

There is not enough done on intermittent fasting as an approach to be able to say if it works as well or better than traditional “diet” approaches (e.g. caloric restriction). If some version of intermittent fasting appeals to you stylistically (and it does to some, while others would see it as horrific) then it is reasonable to give it a try.

Visceral fat (not the fat outside your muscle wall over your belly, but the stuff on the inside, around your intenstines and such) does come off preferentially with exercise, especially higher intensity exercise, and is not especially stubborn.

The pinchable fat above your beltline? That is pretty damn stubborn stuff and probably won’t come off until you have gotten to a pretty damn low body fat percentage. For many that is the last fat to go. To the best of my knowledge you cannot target it short of with liposuction. OTOH from the health perspective the stubborn bits of superficial subcutaneous fat are pretty much inconsequential.

It is simply physically impossible to gain weight unless you have consumed the calories to produce the weight gain.

Hormones can play key roles in total appetite, food preferences, eating habits, basal metabolism, activity levels, etc. These things might mean that 1500 calories is enough for me to lose weight, but enough for you to gain weight

We even know that gut bacteria play a role in calorie absorption. That might mean that a hamburger is only 800 calories to me, but 900 to you.

But, in the end, (in-out)/3600 is what matters unless you turn green and start photosynthesizing.

It is true. But it is also a fundamental truth that exercise makes it harder to reduce intake, because it stimulates the appetite.

That may be so, but you still cannot *target *specific areas for fat reduction. There just isn’t any way to lose weight in the area you want it to come off. It comes off where the biology of your body tells it to.

It’s about two kinds of fat:
The location of the tissue determines its metabolic profile: “visceral fat” is located within the abdominal wall (i.e., beneath the wall of abdominal muscle) whereas “subcutaneous fat” is located beneath the skin (and includes fat that is located in the abdominal area beneath the skin but above the abdominal muscle wall).

…An excess of visceral fat is known as central obesity, or “belly fat”, in which the abdomen protrudes excessively. Excess visceral fat is also linked to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammatory diseases, and other obesity-related diseases.

If you do a google search for lose belly fat there are lots of results… i.e. it seems that that kind of fat can be targeted.

Let me speak as someone 85 lb below his maximum weight (and I’ve been there for two years, with no uptick). First, there is no question about the calories in less calories out. It is called conservation of mass. You are certainly in control of the calories in. But the calories out is more mysterious. The claim that you store carbohydrates more easily than fats or proteins is one claim. Insulin is what turns carbs into fat. I suspect that it may be true, at least in part. When I started taking metformin, which inhibits the release of glucose by the liver, I lost 20 lb in the following year without any attempt at dieting. Then I stalled, at that point about 40 lb below max weight.

Then I adopted a strategy of not eating between meals (which I was doing a lot of) and, over a 2 1/2 year period lost a further 45 lb, which is where I am now. I have lost no weight in the past year and am not especially anxious to, although I am still technically overweight (BMI = 27). So for me, at least, lots of small meals don’t work. But they might for you.

I tried asking why I lost weight on metformin (which I still take, although my blood glucose and A1G are well within normal limits now) and the only answer I got was that I must somehow be excreting some of what I was eating. Well, yes, that or metabolizing it. How can I know? So the calories out is not clear. Incidentally, my exercise level is, if anything, a bit lower than it used to be. I used to walk a minimum of three miles a day. Every day. Now I skip it one or two days a week, most weeks.

Btw me and a few others I know are on psychiatric medications such as clozapine. I used to be about the skinniest guy in school but now my body is good except for my belly. I know a girl on that medication who is about 200 pounds with a 46 inch waist. The rest of her body is quite normal. If a medication can lead to a specific type of fat gain (visceral) I think visceral fat could be lost in a targeted way somehow.

If you do a Google search for “the Loch Ness Monster exists” there are lots of results. The problem is that they are all wrong. Same with targeted weight loss. It doesn’t work, never has, never will.

No it can’t because that’s not how fat is burned. Exercise builds muscles in a specific location but it burns fat from everywhere.

And how old are you? When I was in my 20s I ate pretty much whatever I wanted to eat, in any quantity, and I got very little exercise. I was somewhat overweight, but not anywhere near obese. Now, four decades later, I eat almost exclusively lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains . . . everything I know I should be eating . . . and I still get very little exercise, and I weigh about 70 lbs. more than in my 20s. So neither the quantity nor the quality of food is the deciding factor. The only factor that has changed for the worse is my age.

I wonder if it really burns both types of fat at an equal rate… (subcutaneous vs visceral)

One thing I have found over decades of on and off dieting and accurate calorie counting is how variable metabolisms are between individuals. I workout at least 3x a week intensively and am fairly active and muscular, but I only burn about 10 calories lb of body weight per day. Other people require 11-12-13 and I’m sure there are people who can get by on less than I require ratio-wise. While these do not sound like huge differentials they can amount to huge differences in body weight over time given similar starting points.

You can count calories all day long (and I do) but your metabolic clock is going to rule the roost in the end with respect to what you can afford to intake. Fat people often don’t have to eat that much more on a daily basis to maintain obese weight levels. One extra 400 calorie BK Whopper Jr burger during the day would be enough to maintain 40 lbs of excess fat. And these are the smaller burgers calorie-wise. It all adds up.

Anecdotally, this is not my experience. On the contrary, I find it easier to maintain a reduced-calorie intake when I’m following a vigorous exercise program, and much harder if I’m just doing my regular lifestyle of walking a mile or two every other day or so.

Now, I don’t claim to be able to run marathons on an 800-calories-per-day diet, and I’m certainly no medical miracle. But “you will find it harder to undereat if you exercise more” is one of those statements, like “if you eat less and exercise more you will lose weight”, that isn’t uniformly applicable to all people in all circumstances without considerable qualification.

While in an extreme interpretation it may apply to everybody (e.g., a true starvation diet will make everybody lose weight and a grueling workout several hours a day will make everybody hungrier), in a more moderate form it may be experienced very differently by different people.

Body chemistry, state of mind, and other factors make it very tricky to predict for any given individual exactly what form a moderately rigorous weight-loss regimen should take in order to be adequately effective without being insupportably burdensome. If they could reliably figure that out, there wouldn’t be all these different diet books and all these people getting frustrated with diets not working.

Ok there seems to be (objective, studied) consensus on this. But how about fat GAIN? Does anything affect where you gain fat? Why do we have terms like “beer belly”?

It’s not just that there is a location for the fat… there are two different types of fat! (subcutaneous vs visceral)

Visceral fat was recently discovered to be a significant producer of signaling chemicals (i.e., hormones), among which several are involved in inflammatory tissue responses. One of these is resistin which has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes

…irrespective of your height or build, if your waistline is getting bigger it could mean you are at increased risk of developing a chronic disease such as some cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

The waist measurement has a lot to do with visceral fat. I know fat people who have big thighs and huge butts but their belly isn’t very big. Skinny people with big bellies apparently have a bigger health risk.

Well, assuming that low stress = relatively more visceral fat is burned, then one could target such fat by trying to reduce stress while dieting.

BTW there is also a thing called Waist-hip ratio:

I know two obese women who would have two very different ratios. One has a huge butt and hips and a not very fat belly. The other has a pretty slim butt and hips but a 46 inch waist. The doctor said that she was at risk of diabetes (like what my previous post mentioned).

Greatly increased risk:
Men: more than 102 centimetres
Women: more than 88 centimetres

That’s 40 inches for mens’ waists and 34.6 inches for womens’ waists…

I don’t see how you can be so sure.

Do you agree that there are bona fide scientific studies out there which suggest there is a relationship between stress and fat distribution?

Unless you kept very careful records, it’s hard to really know. I would guess that most people would have trouble estimating their energy consumption from last week, let alone from 40 years ago.