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Nutrition Column

Areas where fat is gained first is often where it is lost last

My title basically says it all - the areas where an individual gains weight (fat) first is usually the area which is most resistant to weight (fat) loss and the area where it is lost last.

While there are gender differences - with most women gaining more fat in their breast, hip and thigh regions and most men gaining fat in their waist area - there certainly area individual differences.

Fat storage and removal has a lot to do with the activity of the two primary enzymes responsible for triglyceride (fat) removal - lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), respectively. The former is not to be confused with LDL (low-density lipoprotein - a transport form of cholesterol and termed "bad" cholesterol).

I've already posted on these two enzymes and fat metabolism in the forum entitled:
Turning up the heat: fat cell metabolism. You can also read more about LPL and HSL is chapter 7 of my Fuel Up book dealing with fat cell metabolism and weight loss.

Not only will you store more fat where your LPL activity is greater (something genetically determined), but also you will burn less fat if you are less able to activate HSL. Studies have shown two types of receptors which are involved with the activation of the HSL enzyme - alpha-2 receptors which inhibit HSL activation and limit fat breakdown and beta receptors which stimulate HSL activation and increase fat breakdown.

Genetics, diet, and exercise will all impact your alpha-2 to beta receptor concentration. However, realistically everyone will always have areas which are more resistant to weight loss. EVERYONE.

Being realistic is important as is continuing to eat healthy, exercise, and lead a healthy lifestyle. While you can't control your genes you do have control over the rest of your life.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 2.27.06