Muffin Top Madness
Dr Michael Colgan 22 January 2014
Even with a stringent diet and exercise program, the Chihuahua on the belly and muffin atop the hips often refuse to leave the building. In many folk who hit this plateau, there is usually a lot more, visceral fat hidden deep inside, plumping them up like a goose.
You can’t see visceral fat. It hides around your liver and kidneys, intestines and reproductive system. Visceral fat really clings. It can add 3-6 inches to your waist and hips long after you do lose most of the pooch and muffin top.
The Internet, Facebook, and YouTube portray hundreds of exercise programs claiming to get rid of muffin tops. The lean and well intentioned young men and women who present the exercises (most of whom never had a muffin top) seem to have forgotten their high school human biology. Fat oxidation and use by the body is unrelated to the particular muscles being worked. Fat is taken from throughout the body, and used by a complex process through the bloodstream. No matter how hard you do these exercises, you will not budge the muffin.
Here’s the bottom line. You are exercising particular muscles. You are not exercising the fat that surrounds them. You are hardly affecting that fat at all. A solid hour of muffin top exercises in the gym uses less than half an ounce of fat.(1) And that is fat from the whole body fat store. You can’t spot reduce fat. No matter how much the muscles ache, only an insignificant amount of the energy comes from the fat surrounding them.
These abominable abdominal exercises, including leg lifts, sit-ups, knee kicks and bum wiggles, usually done lying on the floor. They have zero effect on muffin tops. Standing exercises are just as bad. Often targeted to small muscles like the obliques, standing muffin top “melters” such as side bends with dumbbells, and twists with a pole on your shoulders, may cause you to quickly feel a burn in those muscles. But they burn insignificant fat from that area, less than a tenth of an ounce per hour of work.
These exercises actually make muffin tops worse. Over a period of months the exercises do develop and tone the targeted muscles. Most of the overlying fat remains, while the muscles grow bigger from the work. This is especially so with the obliques, those two muscular bulges at the sides that work to twist the body. The net effect is to increase the size of the waist and make the muffin top look bigger.
Working with top modelling agencies who want their models to have hips the size of their bust, and a waist 10 -12 inches smaller than either, we know that neither particular exercises nor starvation diets work worth a damn. Exercises increase muffin tops, and starvation strips off your facial fat before touching visceral fat, or the last of the muffin. Starvation creates that gaunt, pale, vampire face, and bumpy hips that likely started the Goth craze.
Starving and muffin exercises are useless for models, who depend on their looks for a living. We had to develop some special strategies to remove the muffin and the visceral fat while saving the face. Together with decent proteins, such as Isagenix Isalean every day, and the full complement of micronutrients provided by the Ageless Essentials, these strategies have boosted many a modelling career.
Muffin Top Strategy No 1: Thermogenesis
Thermogenesis means creation of heat. When you are not exercising, the body creates heat through activating a mechanism called brown-adipose-tissue (BAT). Activating BAT permits production of heat directly from bodyfat without going through the energy cycle or being burned in muscular activity.(2) That is, you can lose bodyfat without moving a muscle, even while you sleep. Animals that hibernate, such as the grizzly bear, activate BAT to burn up to one quarter of their total bodyweight during winter, without any exercise at all.
Usual diet and exercise programs do not activate BAT. Just the opposite. If you go on sudden food restriction, yet force yourself to exercise, your body automatically turns on defence mechanisms to conserve its fat. It turns heat production down and use of BAT, and drastically reduces energy. That’s why strict dieters generally feel cold and exhausted, and tend to give up exercise after a while.
Scientists used to think that thermogenesis would not work for people, because, unlike bears, humans cannot hibernate. A hibernating bear can lose 300 lbs of fat while it sleeps, as its body converts fat directly to BAT, which then creates the heat required to keep it from freezing over the winter. Recent technology, however, has allowed us to measure human BAT. Though not as efficient as bears, the body of a 40-year-old man or woman can make sufficient BAT to provide 15% of their total energy, and get all of it from bodyfat, without any exercise.(3)
There are four strategies to activate thermogenesis to burn fat. You need follow all of them carefully to succeed. Make these strategies a daily habit along with IsaLean shakes and Ageless Essentials, and your muffin will slowly disappear without any exercise. Of course, if you want to show a six-pack when the fat goes, you have to do the right ab exercises to develop the muscle heads.
Step 1 Melatonin
The first and most important strategy is to use melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that turns on in the brain for your sleep cycle. It’s no accident that bears turns on copious melatonin to activate BAT during the sleep of hibernation. In both bears and humans, melatonin is essential to convert white body fat to BAT and thence to heat.(4)
After about age 20, melatonin declines in the human body. By age 40, it has declined by half. You can get some melatonin from almonds, sunflower seeds, coriander, cardamom, and mustard greens. Unless you eat a lot of them, however, it is insufficient to activate much BAT.(5)
The alternative is supplementary melatonin. But most melatonin pills do not work. They are about 90% deactivated by digestive acids in the gut and their first pass through the liver. A liquid melatonin spray such as the Isagenix Sleep Spray is much better. Held in the mouth for 30 seconds each night it is quickly absorbed and passes directly through the blood/brain barrier into the brain.
For stubborn fat loss we have used up to 15 mg of liquid melatonin taken right before bed every night and held in the mouth for 30 seconds. Some folk sleep too soundly on that much and wake up groggy. So, if you use it, start with 1-3 mg. Do not miss a single day or the body will strongly turn off BAT. Then you are two days behind.
Step 2. Sleep
Inadequate sleep disrupts BAT activity. So you have to get sufficient, that is, 7-8 hours actually sleeping every night. To ensure an effective melatonin rhythm, sleep in the natural dark cycle where you live, not during daylight hours. Sleep cool, which encourages heat production. And sleep dark (not even an alarm light) which optimizes melatonin release.
Don’t use your cell phone, pad, or computer in bed. The wavelength of light used to backlight these devices effectively turns off your melatonin rhythm.(6) Alternatively, you can get an app called f-lux. F-lux changes the backlight wavelength so that it does not affect melatonin.
Step 3. e-shot for Morning Thermogenesis
To continue the thermogenesis and fat loss after you wake up in the morning, take a strong cup of arabica coffee on an empty stomach. The Isagenix e-shot, with its botanicals from green tea and yerba mate is even more effective.(7,8)
Then do some light exercise for just 5-15 minutes to raise your metabolic rate. We encourage push-ups, crunches, lunges, squats, and high kicks, in the bedroom. But even walking the dog will work. Do only what you know you can do again tomorrow, because missing a day puts you two days behind. Make this routine a habit and thermogenesis can continue for up to four hours afterwards.(7)
Remember, each day you get a new 24-hour circadian cycle of growth and development that controls all the changes that will prevail in your body. Whatever you do during each 24-hour cycle, will reflect in your growth that night. If you miss a cycle it is gone forever. Learn to live in tune with your circadian cycles, each one born pure and new, ready to be made your personal masterpiece.
The botanicals in the e-shot, especially the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), in green tea, make it likely more effective than coffee.(7,8) The Isagenix Brain Boost, designed for use in the morning, is also a good way to get more EGCG. It contains 40 mg per dose. For muffin tops in fitness and fashion models, we use 100-300 mg EGCG every day.
In a recent controlled study, two groups of, healthy men used a moderate reduced calorie diet, plus tea for 12 weeks. One group had green tea extract added to the tea to yield high levels of EGCG. The group consuming the higher levels of EGCG lost an average of 5.4 lbs of bodyfat, approximately twice the loss of the control group. One important finding: was that much of the fat loss was visceral fat from around the organs.(8) Loss of visceral fat always reduces the muffin top.
4. Step 4. IsaOmega for All-Day Thermogenesis
To turn on thermogenesis, the body has to produce proteins called Uncoupling-Proteins. These uncouple the use of some of our oxygen from the production of ATP (our energy molecule). The oxygen can then go direct to production of heat by mixing with and burning the BAT you have activated. But, whenever its visceral fat is under threat, the body turns Uncoupling-Proteins way down.
Recent research shows that high levels of the long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, from marine sources, strongly turn up the uncoupling-proteins again.(9) With models, we use up to 4 grams of each daily. Isagenix IsaOmega is a great source. You get best results by using 6-12 of them daily. As with every nutritional supplement, you should start low and slow. Spread out use with each meal during the day to aid assimilation.
Summary Steps to Really Melt the Muffin
1. IsaLean shake and Ageless Essentials
2. Melatonin. Sleep Spray held in mouth 30 seconds every night.
2. Sleep. Cool, dark, quiet, and 7-8 hours.
3. E-shot, and Brain Boost, each morning
4 EPA plus DHA, 8 grams from IsaOmega spread throughout the day.
As with all supplementation, because I do not know you, and you are not enrolled in my clinical program, you use these fat loss strategies at your own choice and risk. We will continue this series with further strategies in the near future that I hope will help you achieve the body you desire. Given the right information, your body has ample power to make it so.
1. Melanson, EL, et al. Exercise improves fat metabolism in muscle but does not increase 24-h fat oxidation. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2009 April; 37(2): 93–101.doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e31819c2f0b
2. Stock MJ. Thermogenesis and brown fat: relevance to human obesity. Infusionstherapie, 1989;16(6):282-284.
3. Giralt M, Villarroya F. White, brown, beige/brite: different adipose cells for different functions? Endocrinology. 2013 Sep;154(9):2992-3000. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1403.
4. Jiménez-Aranda A, et al. Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. J Pineal Res. 2013 Aug 12. doi: 10.1111/jpi.12089.
5. Colgan M. Sound Sleep. American Fork UT: Sound Concepts, 2012.
6. Wood B, et al. Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Applied Ergonomics 2013 Mar;44(2):237-40. doi:10.1016/j.apergo. 2012.07.008.
7. Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Green tea catechins, caffeine and body-weight regulation. Physiol Behav. 2010 Apr 26;100(1):42-6. Doi10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.02.005.
8. Wang H, et al. DJ: Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2010, 18:773-779.
9. Flachs P, et al. Cellular and molecular effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on adipose tissue biology and metabolism. Clin. Sci. (Lond.) 2009;116:1–16.