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Top 10 ways to lose stubborn fat

By July 20, 2010January 13th, 20179 Comments

We all want the holy grail of fat burning advice to the point where we’d probably sell our first born child, and maybe even the second one, all for a magic pill which will make that stubborn adipose tissue get the hell off our waistlines and annoy somebody else.

This article isn’t aimed at the excessively ‘large’ person, or the person just about to get up on stage and display a ‘Most Musclular’ at the next Mr Olympia. I’m talking to those that are pretty fit, but have hit a roadblock and just can’t seem to shift that muffin top.

Attack from every angle

Ok, so there are nearly 50 kagillion ways to lose fat, but none of them are miracles. You really need a solid and consistent approach to your fat loss. I cannot stress this enough: It REALLY IS the sum of all parts. If you aren’t attacking your excess flab from multiple angles, your results will suffer.

Ways to lose stubborn fat

Even if you can’t achieve the below ten, aim for eight of them a1nd you WILL see significant improvements to your physique.

Set yourself an 8 week window and stick to the plan. Then check your measurements, your pants and the mirror and tell me if you don’t look leaner and meaner…

#1 Get more shut-eye

Sleep deprivation reduces the amount of leptin in the body, a substance that suppresses appetite and lets you know when you are full. Lack of sleep can also lead to a decrease in insulin sensitivity. Poor insulin sensitivity also causes the body to more readily store energy as fat. Some great info on how much sleep you need (we’re all different) can be found here.

Hot tip: give up watching infomercials in the wee hours and hit the sack early. You’ll thank me for it and so will your wallet.

#2 Limit carbs

I’m not saying remove carbs completely, but think of it this way: The body is like a car, whilst carbs are the ’fuel’ required to run it. When you go home to park your car, do you really think you need to add more fuel?

#3 Be consistent

Efforts that you make on a consistent basis will be rewarded. Often we struggle and lose sight of the end goal as our fat loss begins to decline. Make no mistake, the body WILL adapt to every form of weight-loss strategy we throw at it, so you have to change it up and ‘keep the body guessing’.

Hot tip: Change your program every 6-8 weeks to keep yourself motivated (even if it’s just minor adjustments to existing exercises).

#4 Eat less

Seriously, I just said ‘eat less’ without a grin on my face. Ok, so don’t starve yourself by any means, but try avoiding seconds. We can survive on a lot less than you would think and still look and feel healthy and more importantly, shed excess kilos more easily.

Hot tip: Don’t skip training days, but if you do – reduce your food portion sizes for the days you miss the gym.

#5 Introduce HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training should be ‘up there’ on your priority list when trying to budge stubborn body fat. To mix it up, do it after a 45min weight session. At Other times, try doing 20mins of HIIT followed by another 20mins of steady-pace running/elliptical.

Hot tip: Mix up your cardio. Try to do a combination of HIIT and weights if possible. If you do classes, and enjoy them, add other things to the mix to throw the body into a state of ‘WTF?’

#6 Drink more water

You already knew this one right? If your water intake is low, your body thinks it’s entering a drought. As a result, it’ll react by storing as much water as possible to get through it. This extra, stored water leaves you looking and feeling bloated. Take in more water, and your body will cease to hold onto it.

Hot tip: Aim for 8 glasses a day at the minimum. Or as a general guide, if your urine is yellow, then you’re not drinking enough.

#7 Train twice a day

This isn’t possible for a lot of people, but for those that have the time (and the inclination), add an additional 45min walk at the opposite end of the day to your normal training. This can really fuel your fat burning fire for a lot longer.

Hot tip: Avoid over training and listen to your body. If you are tired from the morning session, don’t push your luck. You’ll either end up sick or injuring yourself in the process.

#8 Cut back on alcohol

This may seem obvious, but how many of us STILL drink alcohol when trying to achieve supreme shredded-ness? I’ve been guilty of this in the past (and still am), but if you want to reach the next level, try a lifestyle without it for a while.

Hot tip: Giving up the last legal social lubricant is difficult for ANYONE but try it for a month and see how much better your progress is and how much better you feel. You can have a beer at the end as a reward. I promise.

#9 Reduce salt (sodium) and eat non-processed foods

Salt hinders the bloods ability to pass nutrients through your system essentially ‘clogging it up’. This will cause the body to retain more water. Also, try to eat foods that are in their ‘raw’ form – Nuts, grains, meat, eggs, fruits, veg and the list goes on. If you’re reaching for a bag of chips, eat an apple or grab a protein shake instead.

Hot tip: When training for fat-loss, and I’m feeling like Starvin Marvin, I mix a scoop of whey protein powder in a glass of water and consume.
Presto – not hungry anymore.

#10 Increase protein intake

Finally, try to substitute protein into places where you would normally snack on chips, breads and other starchy foods (which will ultimatelyleave you feeling hungry). Protein is essential for muscle building but more importantly, it will leave you satiated for longer. You’ll end up eating less during the day as you’ll feel full (hopefully).

Hot tip: Increasing your protein intake is easy if you purchase powered whey. However, don’t limit yourself to just shakes – the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals can be readily found in solid meat products such as beef and poultry.

Editor’s note: What are your OWN effective methods for fat-loss? Leave them in the comments below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Cassie says:

    That photo looks like me. Damn you muffin top!!

    will give these tips a go.. but not all. like #8…

  • FitXcel says:

    It’s amazing to me just how much of a difference lowering your salt intake can make. One day, you might have trouble seeing a lot of ab definition, and a couple of days later, you look like a completely different person.


  • Alcohol and salt use to be my problem until I introduced fasting into my weekly plan. Now I just eat less and when I know I am going to be drinking I cut my calorie intake enough for that day to allow for a couple of drinks but never the sugary ones. Like Drew says salt kills definition because you are retaining so much water.


  • Clint,
    Very comprehensive list of tips. I’d say that diet is definitely key to losing stubborn fat. I’ve had success with intermittent fasting (Eat Stop Eat). Combined with heavy weight strength training and HIIT, I’ve found it’s gotten me leaner than I’ve been in a long, long time.

  • A lot of people get frustrated because that last bit of stubborn fat is usually in the abs or love handles for men… They get lean everywhere else but still have that ab fat. The key is to keep pushing – creating a calorie deficit and forcing your body to burn fat and eventually it’ll go from there too… but the abs and love handles definitely can be frustrating for guys!

  • Clint,

    #4 is by far the most important in my opinion. I would also add training on an empty stomach. This forces your body to burn stored fat as fuel instead of food energy. This has made a big difference for me.


  • Clint Nielsen says:

    Alcohol is hard to give up completely. Tried it for 2 months. My training was amazing, but my social life suffered considerably.

    Absolutely (pardon the pun). It’s a similar effect to when you first wake up in the morning. The bloat is gone.

    Eating less on the day you are going to drink alcohol is a great idea and one I try to adhere to. Often more difficult in practise than in theory however – especially considering high calorie meals more often than not, go so well together with booze (beer and pizza anyone?).

    Agreed. 80% of the battle is diet.

    @Craig Avera
    Couldn’t agree more. Genetics play a big part in the degree of your ‘love handle battle’. I for one, put most of my weight around the wasitline. My legs, like most males, are pretty lean (damn those skinny legs!)

    For sure. #8 and #4 would be the 2 most important IMO

  • Britt says:

    Well Clintus, I knew most of these, but you did hammer them home hopefully. After 5 weeks of European indulgence and no exercise (your holiday tips came too late) the muffin top has moved to thighs, ass and waist …
    will let you know how I go in 6 weeks. at least I have the beach at my doorstep and scheduled ‘classes’ at least 2x a week as well as veggies (there is a lack of those in Germany for some reason).

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