Fat seems to be genetically pre-programmed to its final destination
I often get asked whether Pilates will help to lose abdominal fat. I usually answer 'no', as fat must be burned away through cardio-vascular exercise that really gets our hearts pumping. Pilates can, however, definitely tone the abdominal region, giving you a shapelier waist line.
Perhaps the true secret to a flatter tummy is all in our genes?
I recently stumbled across a short but very interesting article about fat cells. The article made frequent reference to 'bad' belly fat that causes cardiac disease. It compared this fat to the 'heart-friendly' less dangerous fat of the lower body, or thigh and hip fat.
As we would all be aware, men seem to deposit their fat stores around their middle, while women tend to be more pear-shaped, with higher fat deposits around their hips and thighs when compared to their tummies. Research also seems to point to the belly fat as a greater predictor of heart and cardiovascular disease and diabetes, when compared to thigh fat.
A recent study in 2012 published in the 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism' concluded that fat cells are 'pre-programmed' genetically to land either in your belly or thighs. In this research, genes were expressed very differently in the same individual's belly and thigh fat cell samples. This possibly dictated where each fat was to be deposited. These same fat cells (grown from the fat stem cells in a petri dish) showed the same differing gene expression, further supporting the thoughts that all fat cells are genetically destined to their final location, even when not in the body and grown in a laboratory.
Further research is needed, but it is thought that this will bring a shift in the thinking and management of obesity and its relationship to heart disease and diabetes. Perhaps finding a way to change the gene expression of our fat cells will allow for a redistribution of our fat away from the tummy and into the thighs.
We may one day all look very pear-shaped in our figures- both men and women alike. My advice? Low fat diet and exercise. All 'fatty' food and drink in moderation to lower your fat cell count and of course, Pilates to stay shapely and strong.