What Causes Stubborn Fat and What You Can do About It

Does your body refuse to follow directions? Shouldn’t your diet and exercise efforts be clear enough instruction? You want the fat gone. Yet, no matter what you do, in places like your hips, your thighs, or belly, you can’t get rid of stubborn pockets of fat.

Would you like to know what causes fat to cling to you like a child wanting candy? One answer is genetics. We humans come in all shapes and sizes, and our genes dictate the actions of our cells to a large extent. Another cause of fat persistence is hormones. Estrogen causes the body to retain more fat, and fat itself produces estrogen, leading to a cycle of fat maintenance that is difficult to break.

A third answer could be lifestyle. Below is a list of changes you can make today to burn more fat. And don’t worry, even if you’ve exhausted those options, you can enlist the help of your plastic surgeon and consider fat removal procedures.

Let’s take a look at both approaches:

Lifestyle Changes

Eat Regularly Timed Meals

Imagine that every time you eat a meal, a clock starts ticking. It measures the time until your next meal. The more time in between, the more calories you burn. However, when you sleep, your body burns many fewer calories. Either way, loading your body up with food, and then not giving enough time to burn calories, forces your body to store what you ate – in fat.

Therefore, it’s best to eat smaller, evenly-spaced meals that aren’t close to bedtime. It’s a way to keep your body’s calorie burn on pace with your food intake.

Limit Junk Food and Alcohol

While it’s no surprise that neither temptation is healthy, we often don’t realize why. You may think the ingredients (sugar, fat, and salt) in these foods are your only enemies.

In reality, the real problem is how our body responds. Junk food and alcohol cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop, often making you feel tired and hungrier than you were before. Therefore, it’s best to consume these foods in moderation, despite how good they taste.

Stay Active and Getter a Better Night’s Sleep

Your body will always burn more calories moving than stationary. It’s ok to relax but that doesn’t require you to sit still. Your favorite Netflix series can be just as enjoyable while walking on the treadmill. And reading can easily be done listening to an audiobook on a walk or run in the park.

And on the flip side, when the day’s done, go to sleep. Establish a regular bed time and stick to it. Without enough sleep, your body won’t produce enough of the hormones that regulate your appetite.

Decrease Stress and Anxiety

Some of us eat more when we’re anxious. Still, when it comes to how this affects your body’s fat stores, there’s more to the story. When we feel stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. This causes our bodies to slow digestion and prepare itself for survival – as if you’re in physical danger.

The problem? Most of us, at work or at home, are not in danger. And in the fight against fat, you need your metabolism running in high gear. To limit the amount of stress you feel, try taking breaks, meditation, or improving your work situation.

Add Muscle to Your Frame

While you’ve probably heard that muscle weighs more than fat, you may not know that more muscle burns more calories. Think of your muscles like a fat-burning engine. And the bigger the engine, the more fuel (in the form of calories) your body burns.

No, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to increase the number of calories you burn. With cardio, you burn calories while you work out; with weight training, you burn afterward as well. Putting on even modest amounts of muscle can increase your overall metabolic rate.

Surgical Options

Still, aren’t we talking about stubborn fat? You know, the kind that hangs around even if we’ve made all the healthy life changes. Now you’re fighting genetics. And to turn the tide in your favor, here are some ways your plastic surgeon can help:


CoolSculpting is a noninvasive, fat-freezing procedure performed in a doctor’s office. Using a hand-held freezing wand, your physician can destroy a layer of stubborn fat cells without harming your skin. Your body then processes and removes the cells over two to four months.

Reliably, Coolsculpting can remove about 25% of the fat in a given area. So, if you’re patient and have realistic expectations, it can bring satisfying results.


To take fat removal a step further, patients often look to liposuction. It involves the suctioning of up to 10 pounds of fat cells straight from a trouble area. Once removed, the fat cells don’t come back, making the area forever smaller in proportion to the rest of your body.

Liposuction requires only very small incisions, so it’s considered minimally-invasive. And because fat removal affects nerve connections, there is some bruising and soreness involved. Therefore, it’s best to plan a week off from work for recovery. To be a candidate, you also must be a non-smoker.

Ready to get some help in your war against stubborn fat? If so, contact Dr. Zochowski’s Columbus, OH office online or at (614) 490-7500 to schedule your consultation!