“(Subcutaneous) fat appears just below your skin (and) is actually healthier than belly fat; unfortunately, it is also harder to get rid of. Subcutaneous fat is associated with healthy cholesterol levels and fewer heart attacks, but it also has less blood flow and holds onto calories, which makes it tough to burn off.” – Dr. Mehmet Oz (“Dr. Oz”)
The fat contents within the foods we consume either visceral fat or subcutaneous fat. As a point of reference, visceral fat “is body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and is therefore stored around a number of important internal organs, such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines.” Subcutaneous fat is simply the excess fat lying directly underneath the skin; most of which is found in the stomach and abdominal areas.
Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications differentiates between the two types: “Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdomen (the apple shape) is largely visceral.” The publication further explains “visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist – the pinchable stuff – can be frustratingly difficult to budge.”
Subcutaneous fat, though not believed to pose any physical threat, can adversely affect one’s self-image, confidence, and other psychological states. It can be important, then, to eliminate subcutaneous fat for our mental wellbeing.
In this article, we focus on three ways to “melt away” this stubborn type of body fat. As with any exercise and nutritional regimen, we must remain dedicated and focused to sticking with the process. “Self-discipline” is a term we may repel from, but its application is critical as it pertains to these recommendations.
Here are ways to eliminate subcutaneous body fat:
1. Aerobic and Interval Training
As subcutaneous fat is much harder to shred than visceral, we must allocate more time to aerobic training – or cardiovascular exercise (cardio). Harvard Medical School recommends moderate-intensity cardio exercise in durations of no less than 30 minutes per day. Intermittent exercise sessions (2-3 days per week, for example) will not yield much if any measurable decreases in subcutaneous fat levels.
The American College of Sports Medicine states it may take between 60 to 90 minutes of aerobic training, up to five times per week, for some individuals to lose weight. The good news is that this recommended duration needn’t be completed in one single session. Subcutaneous body fat can be eliminated in multiple workout sessions throughout the day.
An alternative to moderate-intensity cardio is interval training – a more intense form of cardio. Interval training is just alternating the high-low intensity of each movement during the workout. The main benefit of interval training is that you can expedite the fat-burning process – an excellent solution for those dealing with a tight schedule.
2. Weight Training
Though cardio and interval training is thought to be the superlative method of eliminating subcutaneous fat, experts state that we shouldn’t be dismissive of weight training – and its myriad of benefits. The main advantage of weight training is that it boosts metabolic rate and burns calories, even while at rest.
In fact, there are some experts within the nutritional, physiological, and/or medical communities that cite weight training superior to aerobic activities when it comes to burning subcutaneous fat. More specifically, interval training using weights is deemed a better method of burning subcutaneous fat than interval training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise alone.
Regardless, effective weight circuit training will target all the main muscle areas – upper and lower body – and efficiently reduce the fat composition within these areas. The end result: your body shreds fat and, eventually, appears more toned.
3. Strike the right nutritional balance
There’s a maxim within the fitness community that “nutrition matters more than exercise.” Indeed, it’s hard to amass enough evidence to overcome this famous aphorism. Most scientific studies comparing the rate of subcutaneous fat loss in a “diet versus exercise” showdown ultimately conclude that nutrition trumps exercise in almost every way.
The simple reason: a rigorous exercise regimen cannot overcome the bad foods we eat. For subcutaneous fat to shred, we must strike a balance between the two. Bad dietary habits cannot be overcome by a demanding exercise routine.
This is perhaps best illustrated by an important observation; you can lose weight by diet alone. You cannot, however, lose weight with bad dietary habits with an exercise routine, no matter how challenging this routine may be.
The “simple” solution is to research and read up on ways to implement a healthy diet; along with an acceptable, yet “hard enough,” exercise regimen.
Striking the right nutritional balance and an exercise routine that pushes your boundaries is a near-surefire way to burn away that stubborn body fat.