Why is it that some people store their body-fat around their middle while others store it on their thighs and bottom?
According to the medical community, your genetic makeup predisposes you to be either an “apple” or a “pear” when it comes to your body-fat distribution.
So what kind of fruit are you?
- Generally speaking, women typically collect fat in their hips and buttocks, giving their figures a “pear” shape. In medical terms, this fat distribution pattern is referred to as gynecoid.
- Men, on the other hand, usually collect fat around the belly, giving them more of an “apple” shape. In medical terms, this fat distribution pattern is referred to as android.
Keep in mind, this is not an absolute. Some men are pear-shaped and some women become apple-shaped, particularly after menopause.
Health Effects of Fat Distribution Patterns
To put it bluntly, apple-shaped people are more likely to develop many of the health problems associated with obesity. They are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution. While obesity of any kind is a health risk, it is better to be a pear than an apple.
Note: For a more thorough discussion of the health implications of being an apple or a pear, click here.
So What Makes Someone an Apple or a Pear?
- Attached to all of your fat cells, you have hormone receptors which are designed to accept specific types of hormones.
When it comes to weight loss and your fat cells, we are concerned with the adrenoreceptors designed to accept adrenaline and noradrenaline. Think of the receptor as a lock and the hormone as a key. Only specific hormones can “unlock” the receptor and open up the fat cell membrane to allow for body-fat storage or release.
Of all of the different types of hormone receptors, fat cells have only two – Alpha 2 (A2) and Beta 1 (B1).
- B1s are the good guys.
B1 receptors activate lipase (the enzyme that breaks down fat). Lipase causes your fat cells to break down the stored fat into fatty acids and glycerol to be used as energy throughout your body. This fat breakdown procedure is initiated when B1s hormone receptors link up with the key hormone nor-adrenaline.
Note: Adrenaline could also set off this procedure, but your body-fat lacks the major arteries and veins that adrenaline needs to travel in.
- On the other hand, your A2 receptors are the bad guys.
Their job is not only to keep fat inside the cell, but to encourage the formation of new fat into the cell. As a special bonus, they decrease the body’s generation of nor-adrenaline. Making things even worse, when you go on a low calorie diet, you are increasing the number of A2 receptors.
Doesn’t sound good does it?
But this still doesn’t answer why my love handles / butt / etc… is fatter than the rest of my body. Hopefully this does:
Why Apples are Apples and Pears are Pears
- Problem area fat cells have very few B1 receptors. This means they do not release much stored fat – diet or not.
- Problem area fat cells have lots of A2 receptors. And that number grows when you diet.
This means that a typical yo-yo dieter is actually making their problem areas much more stubborn every time he/she jumps on and off the diet bandwagon.
So what do I do NOW?
- STOP DIETING – Microwaved diet entrees are not the answer.
- START EATING HEALTHY… Fruits…Vegetables…Lean Protein…Nuts & Seeds…Fish
In the meantime, be aware that lots and lots of lab coat wearing scientists are working night and day to discover the perfect A2 receptor antagonist – that perfect pill that will block the Noradrenaline key from fitting into the A2 receptor lock. And when they do, you can go back to eating cheesecake.