Advice for losing stubborn fat

by 0 · September 05, 2013 at 09:51 PM

Hello all!

I wanted to ask your advice on my situation. I have been adhering to a rather strict form of Paleo for the past 9 weeks. I have had no dairy and no grains in this period of time. My diet mainly consists of meat (steaks, chicken, and pork chops/roasts primarily) with vegetables. I have limited by vegetables primarily to greens, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions. I've had the occasional avocado. No sweet potatoes or starchy root veggies. I have been getting coconut oil fairly regularly through a coconut oil chocolate bar I make (coconut oil, cocoa powder, pure stevia extract, solidified in the freezer). I would say on average I consume between 1500-2000 calories a day.

In addition, I have been lifting free weights about 4-5 days a week, no more than 20-30 minutes at a time -- focusing primarily on arms, back, chest, and legs. I've been trying to limit my reps whilst using heavier weights.

I am 5'6", 115lbs, 29" waist, 27 year old male. I realize this probably sounds tiny, but here's my problem: I still have a layer of stubborn fat around my waist, and I have some fat on my chest that doesn't seem to be changing much. I have seen no change in waist measurement or weight in the past 4-5 weeks.

I'm not looking to be "ripped," but I would like the rest of this fat to go away. Could any of you make suggestions concerning what may need to be changed in my diet and/or exercise routine? Thank you!

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8 Replies


I think the three biggest contributors to losing the last few pounds are:

  1. genetics
  2. slight caloric deficit
  3. stress reduction

We can't control #1, and people are often all over #2, but I think almost always overlook #3. If your body is stressed, it will do whatever it can to hold onto the last few pounds of fat even if there is a caloric deficit. Reducing stress could include:

  • Getting proper sleep at night (i.e., ~8 hours uninterrupted in a dark room)
  • Keeping your activities aligned with your cyrcadian rhythm (sleep at night, eat during day, etc)
  • Avoiding prolonged high intensity workouts (i.e., cross fit WODs 6 times/day, marathon training, etc)
  • Avoiding huge caloric deficit
  • Getting enough carbs (ketosis may be a stressor and may be unnecessary if your body has a healthy insulin response)
  • Minimizing stress from work, school, family, obligations, etc
  • Not stressing out over the last few pounds (I love irony)
  • Avoiding inflammatory foods (i.e., eat real food)
  • Getting enough nutrients in your diet (i.e., eat real food)
  • Getting enough meaningful/positive social interactions

These all obviously will also have huge benefit in terms of overall health/mood/well being/etc. Good luck!

0 · September 05, 2013 at 09:51 PM

I am having the same issue with losing the last few pounds of body fat. I try to take the advice that is on this and other sites, but it seems like nothing is working. I do have one question. What do most people here think about the cheat day. I am currently having one a week followed by a fasting day as recommended by the Engineering the Alpha book? The cheat day always seems to set me back for a few days. Thanks for your help.

599 · September 05, 2013 at 10:49 AM

My advice is: Change nothing! (At least for now)

Here's the reason: "I have been adhering to a rather strict form of Paleo for the past 9 weeks."

What is catching my attention here is "9 weeks". It's great that you a have been eating "rather strict" for 9 weeks and I congratulate you, but 9 weeks is no a long time. Too many people in our community start experimenting with too many things, just because they don't see results in a few weeks. That's why I am telling you to not change anything for now. Keep eating paleo give your body some time to adjust.

Also, not having a change in waist measurement when you only have 29" is not surprising, especially not in 4-5 weeks.

If anything, 1500-2000 kcal seems too little, especially given your 4-5 sessions a week. But the only thing you might consider changing in the near future is your training.

The short training durations are absolutely fine. Using heavy weights with lower reps is also a good idea to gain a couple of pounds of muscle mass, which seems to be lacking in your case (I am basing that on your weight and the fact that you still - even with that weight - seem to have some belly fat).

There are two things I am not happy about:

  1. "4-5 days a week"

If you train 4-5 times a week there are three possible explanations:

  • You are genetically gifted and/or very very well trained already
  • You will get into overtraining (which itself can lead to gaining belly fat or have the body clinging to it, because you are creating too much stress for your body)
  • You don't train hard enough

If it is the first point: Congratulations.

If it is the second point, I would take a few weeks off and then reduce training frequency to twice a week, maybe 3 time a week max.

If it is the third point, I would reduce to 2-3 trainings per week, make sure that my weight is such that I am at about 5 reps/set (could be 3, could be 8, but somewhere in this range) and look at the second point. You say you are using heavier weights and do lower reps, but that really could mean anything. It could mean you reduced from 50 to 40 reps per set, in which case you are using "heavier" weights, but not "heavy" weights, which is what you should be using. (Heavy weights are - of course - relative to the person using them)

  1. "focusing primarily on arms, back, chest, and legs"

There is not really anything wrong with this. I just wanted to note that I hope you're not doing a lot of things like biceps curls, when you say "arms". I would focus on whole body exercises, so that you train a lot of muscle mass at once instead of doing isolation exercises. It's more time efficient and should produce a better training effect.

Also: Make sure you sleep enough. Not getting enough sleep is a really really bad idea. Way more important than whether you're eating too little/too many potatoes.


  • Don't change your diet, yet. But eat enough
  • Train hard, but not often
  • Sleep enough

Keep at it and good luck.

1329 · September 05, 2013 at 09:34 AM

I find the fat packs on my middle if I over-consume muscle meat (this is in contrast to a more "all over body" fat that I perceive if I have been eating a lot of potatoes).

Strategies for reduction include having a low muscle meat day or two, fasting more, eating wild salmon.

Good luck!

2252 · September 04, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Some basic ideas that haven't been covered:

  • Train fasted with BCAAs
  • Use some form of calorie cycling (higher cal on training days) because at 115 lbs you don't want to get any smaller
  • More fat (this can also aid in fasted training)
  • Tomatoes and onions are not known to be great for weight loss...stick to green leafy vegetables
  • Intermittent fasting...I follow LeanGains fasting with 16 hours fasted, 8 hours feeding...although I don't follow the diet info

Medium avatar
55 · August 07, 2013 at 07:08 PM

Maybe try some Crossfit workouts

7249 · August 03, 2013 at 05:12 PM

At 5'6" and 115, you really need to gain some muscle mass, which will make you look healthier without even changing your total fat content. If you have 15 lb of fat at 115, or 15 lb of fat at 140, the second one will be less fat percentage and a healthier weight. Eat a little more, and add 1 or 2 HIIT sessions per week, and lift with weights no more than 3 days per week. Do heavy weight, low to medium reps, and try to do compound exercises, stay away from isolation work. Spend close to an hour lifting but rest between sets and reps. Throw in a day of 5-10 sprints, where you find a field and take off sprinting as fast as you can. When you can no longer keep up that pace, stop, turn around, and walk back to your starting point. Rinse, and repeat. Doing these things will help you have a better hormone response for losing fat and building muscle. Also, add some starchy vegs at least a couple times per week, as fat burns in the flames if carbs.

384 · August 03, 2013 at 05:00 PM

Your body is probably at a weight it's comfortable with and has enough fat for emergency reserves. Have you measured your body fat percentage? Calipers are a useful fairly accurate way.

I'd say make sure you're getting enough fat and go moderate with the protein intake (ketosis approach), maybe trade one or two of those free weight workouts with HIIT cardio and possibly adapt to an intermittent fasting style if you aren't already (eat in an 6/8 hour window, fast for the rest).

And most importantly, stay patient and persistent. Your body isn't going to want to go too low body fat wise :)

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