What is stubborn body fat? 

Stubborn fat is usually defined as the last and hardest part of body fat to lose when trying to get very lean. Usually only those looking to compete on stage or in the categories below should be concerned with stubborn body fat.

Category 1: Men with bodyfat below 10%

Usually around the core based in the abs, lower back and love handles.

Category 2: Women with bodyfat below ~16%

Usually lower body based in the hips and thighs

*Some men have stubborn fat in the lower body. This is not due to hormonal imbalances, it’s genetics

Why do we have stubborn body fat?

Throughout your body you have many receptors that bind to different hormones. These allow these hormones to perform different functions. In relation to body fat, 2 of the main receptors to look at in layman’s terms are:

1. Beta-2 receptors

The accelerators of fat burning, by increasing the breakdown and blood flow to fat cells.

2. Alpha-2 receptors

The brakes of fat burning, by inhibiting breakdown and blood flow to fat cells.

The reason why certain body fat is harder to lose is due to the ratio of Beta-2 to Alpha-2 receptors found in different areas of the body. This follows a genetic trend and why there are very similar patterns in stubborn body fat from person to person. In an ideal “getting shredded easy” world you would have a high Beta-2 to Alpha-2 ratio.

In women especially you’ll often find that stubborn fat areas feel colder to the touch due to poorer blood flow.

How can we help get rid of stubborn fat?

If we promote Beta-2 and limit Alpha-2 activity we can increase our ability to lose those last few pounds of fat. Below are some options:

More Beta-2 and Less Alpha-2:

a. Lower carb diets

b. Fasted cardio (for reduced insulin)

c. HIIT (5-10 mins) followed by steady state (20-40 mins)

More Beta-2 supps (optional)

d. Stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine

Less Alpha-2 supps (optional)      

e.  Yohimbe or Alpha-Yohimbe


Please bear in mind that the above methods will all increase stress on the body and that prolonged high stress levels will themselves inhibit fat loss. So it’s crucial to find balance and only take on more stress when you can handle it. Do not fall into the “more = better” mentality trap.

Often the best strategy with fat loss is patience.

I would always advice to add an extra week or two to your estimated dieting time required to hit your goals. This will allow for stumbling blocks and plateaus which will happen.