Can abdominal exercises help reduce stomach flab? (Photo: Igor Mojzes / www.123rf.com)
Some fitness myths never seem to go away, making you wonder if there’s any truth to them. Dr Lim Hun Teck, chief physiotherapist at Raffles Rehabilitation Centre, Raffles Medical Group, sheds light on spot reduction and if muscle turns to fat.
1. Can you spot reduce fat?
The spot reduction myth goes that fat from specific body parts can be reduced through exercise of those muscles. Unfortunately, ‘spot training’ doesn’t burn fat, says Dr Lim.
When you lose weight, you are unable to choose the area in which the reduction will occur. Your body predetermines which fat stores it will use.
For instance, doing sit-ups will strengthen your abs but will not take the fat off of your stomach. Similarly, an activity like running burns fat all over your body, not just your legs.
You can, however, complement a balanced exercise programme with a selection of weight training exercises to gradually lose weight and tone the body.
2. Does muscle turn to fat if you stop exercising?
Fat and muscles are two different tissue types. One cannot convert to the other.
The truth is that muscles shrink when not used. Therefore, if you continue to eat as you always have, but stop exercising, you will see an increase in body fat and a loss of muscle mass.
How about compensating by eating extra protein instead? While it is a fact that protein helps build muscle, extra protein may hurt you if you have a pre-existing condition, like kidney disease.
Studies have shown that extra protein in the diet of those with underlying kidney disease can lead to kidney issues such as renal failure.
This article was written by Nur Asykin Ismail and first appeared in Raffles Healthnews. It has been adapted for www.shape.com.sg.