Spot Reducing vs Hypertrophy

I was training a man this week when he pointed to his love handles or muffin top and wanted to know what kind of exercises would make that roll of fat smaller.  There is no exercise that can make a body part smaller.  Think of a body builder and their bulging muscles.  Those muscles have responded to the repetitive stress of lifting a weight over and over by getting larger.  That is what happens.  It is called “hypertrophy “.   So, if there is no exercise to make a body part smaller, how can you get rid of a muffin top or large hips or chubby arms?  Well, you can increase your physical activity, you can start or increase the amount of cardiovascular exercise you do every day, but there are some studies that show that increasing activity also increases appetite, so that might not be the answer either.  It all goes back to what you eat.

What should you eat to lose weight?  Eat as many foods in their natural state as possible.  Greens, mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.  Read labels.  There is a big difference between nuts.  A lot of them are fried in canola oil and then covered in salt.  Those are less preferable than nuts in the shell.  Actually, picking nuts out of the shell as you are cracking them slows down how fast you can eat them.  After dinner when you might be tempted to nibble on something sweet, put a bowl of grapes and some nuts in the shell out to pick on.  Here is a little Brazil nut fat – 4 Brazil nuts eaten once a month lower your cholesterol as well as a statin drug!  Don’t believe me?  Go to and watch the video yourself.  Dr. Greger is awesome.  The site is full of useful health information.

What should you avoid if you want to lose weight?  Stay away from anything wrapped in Mylar.  Stay away from food you can get handed to you in a drive through window.  Stay away from food that will stay fresh for 6 months without refrigeration.  Stay away from food that has ingredients in it you don’t have in your kitchen.

Some of the benefits of eating a whole foods diet include losing weight, lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, lowered risk of stroke, lowered risk of heart disease and lowered risk of some types of cancers.  Sounds like a good deal to me.