Battling with the Bulges

Have you been inspecting your belly lately and plotting against its elimination? Are you hiding the bulges on your thighs behind long flowing shirts and baggy pants? Conjuring up all sorts of plans to extinguish their existence, you are willing to go to any lengths – you’ve answered the ad for spot reduction, reducing “mota pa” by Ayurvedic methods, tried and tested shakes like it’s going out of style, but yet nothing’s happened. The truth is going to be bitter but here it is -nothing is going to happen! You’re not going to lose it until you move it.

The role of fat

A certain amount of fat has a purpose in the body. The normal range for women is about 18-25% of total body weight and for men is about 15-20%. Your diet should contain about 15-20 per cent from sources of fat and that too, from good sources. Recent research has shown that omega -3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids in small quantities are good for us. Good sources of these can be fish and peanuts.

Remember that fat is a source of energy that is used almost like combustion in the body. The body also has a survival instinct to store excess calories in the form of fat to be used only in cases of emergency. Thus if the body gets the regular signal that it requires energy, then and only then does it mobilize fat as a prime source. However, if on a regular basis, there is less activity, the fat stores are the last reserves to be used in the body.

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The body also takes its cue from the amount of energy it receives from what’s being put into it – i.e. the nutritional aspect. When that is in deficit, it refuses to metabolize the fat stores. That is why crash diets are so unsuccessful, without any element of exercise.

Fats in the body also are necessary to dissolve vitamins A D E K, which are not soluble in water. If there is a smaller percentage of fat in the body, the vitamins do not get absorbed in the body thus leading to a deficiency.

It has been shown that women who have a very low percentage have irregularities in their menstrual cycle and are sometimes unable to conceive a child (a certain minimum being necessary). That is why you hear of woman athletes taking time off to catch up with motherhood.

The role of exercise

The kind of exercise you do is also what matters. Here we need to understand the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Anaerobic activities include any activities that require huge bursts of energy and the carbohydrate stores in the body provide these. These do not and cannot last for more than 1-3 minutes. This is because there is not enough of oxygen present during the activity. Anaerobic activities include sprinting, high jumps, squash and weight training.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, takes place in the presence of oxygen, which mobilizes the fat stores into activation, so that they provide the primary (but not only) source of fuel. This sort of activity involves the heart and the lungs, which, depending on their efficiency, receive their source of fats from ALL over the body to fuel them (the less efficient the heart-lung system is, the less it will derive from the fat stores due to the inadequate and infrequent supply of oxygen).

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So you will find that practicing regular aerobics will reduce the fat percentage all over the body and increase the lean body mass in the body, which may not even show in a reduction of overall weight on the scales. In other words, your percentages change. Aerobic exercises have a longer lasting quality about them and can be endured by the hardy and conditioned body. That is why they need to be done very, very regularly. Brisk walking, swimming, cycling are all examples of aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercises have a longer lasting quality about them and can be endured by the hardy and conditioned body. That is why they need to be done very, very regularly. Brisk walking, swimming, cycling are all examples of aerobic exercise.