What diet is best for stubborn fat?

Best Diet for Stubborn Fat

What is the best diet for fixing stubborn fat? Mediterranean, Keto, DASH, Carnivore, MyPlate, or something else? Let’s take a look.

What is stubborn fat?

As I cover in the Outlive programs, there are many types of fat in the body. Fat is sometimes considered an organ in the body. In research, some of these types of fat include:

  • Fat around the organs. This is called Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT).
  • Regular fat. This is called Superficial Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue (SSAT).
  • Stubborn Fat. This is called Deep Superficial Adipose Tissue (DSAT)

Regular fat (superficial subcutaneous) is not related to bad health. In fact, it’s a healthy type of fat.

The deeper, superficial fat is deeper, more irregular in shape, and harder to use as energy (DSAT and visceral fat) is directly linked to diabetes and heart disease. This is why some researchers have dubbed this style of fat storage pattern as diabesity.

Deep stubborn fat

Research shows us that the body begins storing extra fat around the organs when battling chronic inflammation. The best theory right now is that the stubborn fat there is to protect the organs. So fat begins to store around the neck to protect the thyroid organ and around the belly, to protect the liver, kidneys, etc.

As the body continues to battle inflammation, the body becomes depleted of critical vitamins and minerals. This means that it has fewer nutrients to spend on maintaining and building muscle and even bone density. This causes the limbs (arms/legs) and the bones to become weaker. This leads to the infamous body type we see today—where someone will be less muscular in the arms/legs while storing too much fat around the belly and the neck.

Can You Fix Stubborn Fat By Changing Your Diet?

Stubborn fat is linked to chronic inflammation, heart disease, and diabetes. You can’t permanently solve this type of fat by starving the body through a calorie deficit.

Someone may see results temporarily by eating a calorie deficit. You can eat less food than you need to live *temporarily.* Eventually, your body won’t be able to live in a calorie deficit forever. Many people will “break” their diet and binge at this point. They’ll often feel worse as the diet has cost the body nutrients to mobilize and use their fat to live, such as vitamin A, the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, potassium, etc.) 

This is why many dieters experience the “yo-yo” effect, where after the diet ends, they often end up storing more stubborn fat and gaining more weight than they had in the first place.

Resolving inflammation By Changing Your Diet

The solution to fixing stubborn fat is to resolve chronic inflammation. Two things must happen to resolve inflammation.

  • Reducing the daily burden of inflammation on the body
  • Improving the intake of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) above and beyond what the body needs so that it can begin healing.

Ultimately, all of the diets covered below are trying to resolve stubborn fat by fighting inflammation in some way. 

For example, the Mediterranean diet removes ultra-processed foods. The Keto diet removes white sugar and other carbohydrates that might be difficult for some people to digest. Fasting diets remove all foods for a period of time, removing all potential inflammation caused by food.

Diet isn’t the only factor in chronic inflammation. Inflammation goes beyond what you eat.

For example, drinking water quality is a part of inflammation. In England, most public drinking water doesn’t have sodium fluoride added. In 1955, they started adding sodium fluoride to four areas as a trial (UK Parliament), and since then, about 10% of England has had fluoride added to their water.

Recent studies in England have shown that if someone lives in one of these fluoridated tap water areas, they will have a much higher chance of being hypothyroid and experiencing inflammation. This means that the thyroid doesn’t make enough hormones, leading to a sluggish metabolism, stubborn fat gain, etc.

This isn’t to discount the effects of diet. What someone eats as a daily diet is one of the most powerful ways to improve inflammation quickly.

Types Of Diet For Stubborn Fat

Fasting Diets

All fasting diets work against inflammation by removing all dietary inflammation for a period of time. One of the most popular types of fasting is the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet. It removes all types of food-related inflammation for 16 hours a day.

Fasting ProsFasting Cons
  • Costs no money to try
  • Lowers total calorie intake for most people, helping to reduce subcutaneous fat
  • Prevents consumption of inflammatory foods for a long period of time (that's good!)
  • Stressful on the body as not eating can cause stress
  • Can give people license to eat junk food while still losing body fat due to low calorie intake, causing the risk of future health issues
  • Can give people acid reflux if they eat too much at one time
  • Can make people shaky or irritable if they have a high stress job and they're not eating
  • It's main benefit of not eating inflammatory food could be fixed by simply eating non-inflammatory foods

High-Fat & Low-Carb Diets

High-fat diets such as keto remove all or severely restrict dietary carbohydrates. Many carbohydrates are ultra-processed and are inflammatory such as white flour, high-fructose syrup, and white sugar. Some people may experience delayed allergenic reactions to some carbohydrates, such as whole grains as well. (We’ll cover more about that later.)

Low Carb ProsLow Carb Cons
  • Avoids high-nickel carbs which can feed pathogenic bacteria in those with disrupted gut health
  • Avoids many processed foods which contain sugars
  • Requires less oxygen and so it suits an indoor lifestyle better
  • Needlessly avoids many non-inflammatory carbs like raw honey
  • Needlessly causes restriction and causes longing for carbs
  • Doesn't fix root cause of what's driving carb intolerance
  • Many fats are inflammatory such as margarine and vegetable oils
  • Many foods that are acceptable often cause delayed food intolerances like almonds, walnuts, pasteurized dairy, etc.

Balanced Diets

Balanced diets such as the USDA MyPlate or the Mediterranean Diet include a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It emphasizes moderation between the three macronutrients, and in general, restricting ultra-processed foods. By not restricting any food types except ultra-processed foods, its main benefit is removing the risk of creating a deficiency related to consumption.

  • It agrees with consensus so you don't feel weird eating this style of diet
  • Less restriction means it is easy to follow, and to eat foods you enjoy
  • Only suits those without gut disruption that are in good health

Extremely-Restrictive Diets

There are diets such as carnivore or vegan diets that are designed to radically restrict certain types of foods to rule out dietary inflammation. There are considerable risks to long-term adherence to these diets because they restrict more types of foods. When you restrict more types of foods, especially foods that you’re craving for some reason, it may cause imbalances over time.

However, with the carnivore diet, similar to doing a fast, it may be helpful to use it as a complete reset to help identify what foods are causing a unique intolerance. For this reason, it is popular as a short-term reset. It seems to mostly be used as a last resort when many other options no longer work.

Many popular carnivores have slowly reintroduced plant foods, such as Dr Paul Saladino, who wrote the Carnivore Code. He now eats fruit, honey, and raw dairy after experiencing muscle spasms and electrolyte issues from only eating animal-based foods.

  • Carnivore diets might be helpful as a complete "reset" before slowly reintroducing foods to see what foods are causing intolerances
  • Vegan diets increase intakes of magnesium, copper, vitamin C—which many people are low on.
  • Extremely restrictive to the point that dining out becomes so difficult it's near impossible
  • There are no long-term studies on health effects—you're becoming an experiment
  • Ignores the contributing factors of water quality, sunshine and fresh air exposure, sleep quality, and toxin exposures.
  • Vegan diets are shown in studies to cause low levels of zinc, iodine, and vitamin B12. They lack critical amino acids needed to live such as carnitine, creatine, collagen, etc. They are linked to mental health decline and a loss of bone density.
  • Carnivore diets may be low in magnesium, copper, vitamin C, etc. There are anecdotes of muscle-spasm issues, sleep issues, etc.

Why are there so many different types of diets for inflammation?

Based on reading research, having over 15,000 people go through the programs I’ve co-founded, and coaching many people, I’ve found that people have radically different reactions to food.

My best understanding is that this comes down to reduced immune function and the state of their individual gut health. 

There are many studies that measure IgG (Immunoglobulin G) and IgE (Immunoglobulin E) immune proteins after eating foods. There are some patterns, but many people have unique reactions to foods.

Delayed Food Allergy

For example, a recent study on newborn infants found that up to 20% of newborns may already have disrupted gut health and may experience delayed food-allergenic reactions to some foods. 

These delayed allergenic reactions are also seen in adults. They don’t cause immediate anaphylactic reactions but instead come out in delayed symptoms such as:

  • Acid reflux
  • Skin issues such as eczema, acne, rosacea, psoriasis, etc.
  • Gut irritation (IBS, Chrons, etc.)

The top five most common delayed allergens are:

  1. Eggs
  2. Pasteurized Dairy
  3. Wheat
  4. Nuts
  5. Legumes

You could see how some diets might help one person and cause inflammation in another. Someone doing carnivore with eggs might react to the high sulfur and egg proteins. Someone doing keto might react to pasteurized dairy proteins. Someone doing a plant-based diet might react negatively to the nuts and legumes due to high levels of phytates, nickel, or oxalates.

Sensitivity To Other Compounds

Some people will also react to added sodium fluoride, which is added to drinking water in many areas, some salts (Mexico and some European countries) and is found in nearly all toothpaste. While sodium fluoride can help with help teeth remineralization (temporarily), it can cause long-term inflammation by antagonizing magnesium and lowering levels of vitamin D. (There are other less inflammatory types of remineralization toothpaste, including hydroxyapatite.)

That might mean that no matter what diet someone may try, they may experience high levels of inflammation as long as they continue to drink public tap water or anything made with fluoridated water (soup, tea, coffee, soda pop, concentrated juice, puffed cereals, etc.) or brush their teeth with common toothpaste.

Differences in Food Quality

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to having higher allergies (both food allergy and seasonal allergies). One study on organic versus conventional foods found that magnesium content may range from -35% less magnesium to as much as 1206% more magnesium.

Magnesium Content of some foods

This means that depending on the farm, how the soil is taken care of, what fertilizer is used, etc. may play into someone’s own personal gut immunity. (In general, organic foods have higher levels of vitamins and minerals.) Someone raised on a farm, with a hobby garden, or from a household that purchases organic foods may have more freedom with what they can eat while remaining lean and and not inflamed.

The Outlive Diet For Melting Stubborn Fat

In the Outlive programs, we cover all the current research about gut health, gut immunity, and common food intolerances. Then we show them how to do little bets to figure out what foods are inflaming them. Lastly, we teach someone how to improve their gut health to make it more robust and to improve their tolerance of foods that are, in general, more inflammatory. This allows less restriction, which improves how fun life can be (freedom to eat whatever they’d like) while also reducing the risk of deficiencies due to broad food restrictions.

Looking for help to melt stubborn fat permanently?

  1. Get on the free Outlive newsletter, where we discuss all things related to building strength, burning off stubborn fat, and reclaiming our health and fitness.
  2. See our programs which will teach you everything you need to know about fixing stubborn fat. This includes diet but also other things that impact inflammation, such as lifestyle, exercise, and environment.
Burn Stubborn Fat, Gain Muscle

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *