Stubborn Fat: Everything You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Doctor David Wee on Jun 16, 2019


Have you ever noticed how it is harder to slim down some parts of your body compared to others? This is due to the accumulation of ‘stubborn fat’ or subcutaneous fat in that area. Subcutaneous fat is harder to lose (thus the name ‘stubborn’) compared to visceral fat and intramuscular fat. According to a Harvard’s research, about 90% of body fat is subcutaneous, whereas only 10% is made up of visceral fat.

The difference between these 2 are subcutaneous fat are visible under the skin whereas visceral fat is far beneath the muscles. Aside from that, it is more difficult to get rid of stubborn fat compared to visceral fat.

What is Stubborn Fat

Generally, for women the stubborn fat can be found around thighs, abs, and buttock whereas for men it can be found around the waist area, otherwise known as the love handle. Stubborn fat also often referred to as belly fat, because of this.

There are some sportmen who are famously trying to lose weight but still stuck at a phase, like Charles Barkley, Mike Tyson, and Diego Maradona.

What is Stubborn Fat


Before knowing how to get rid of stubborn fat, it is important to know how fat is formed first.

As we consume our daily meals, we take in protein, carbohydrates and fats that are providing our bodies with caloric energy. Although carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, fats contain the densest energy. This energy is used in our daily lives in activities such as walking, working, and swimming.

The unused energy then will be absorbed by fat cells, making it larger. Contrary to popular opinion, fat cells don’t multiply. The number remains constant throughout our lives. However, it can expand or contract depending on the energy absorbed.

Mostly, these fat will accumulate around the belly area, as this area tends to store more energy. That’s why it is harder to get rid of belly fat.

How is Fat Formed in the Body

How is Fat Formed in the Body


There are 3 types of body fat: 

Visceral Fat

Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs. Depending on the levels, visceral fat can be healthy as well as known to cause serious health problems like heart disease, pulmonary diseases and high cholesterol related problems. Normal amount of 10% of visceral fat is permissible, however, excessive amount may cause you more damages.

Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous or stubborn fat can be found right under the skin. It usually dictates the percentage of body – fat ratio. A study in Europe showed that women with bigger hips tend to develop heart diseases 2 times higher than those with small hips. Men also tend to experience this belly fat. If your body fat analyser noted between 13 – 59 scale, it is recommended to do a lifestyle change.

Intermuscular Fat

Intermuscular Fat

Intramuscular fat is located inside skeletal muscle fibers. Often associated with insulin and diabetes problem, this fat secretes lipid droplets to let go of energy.


There are several reasons to having stubborn fat. Subsequently, it all comes down to your metabolism and the factors that contributes into it. Here are some factors that leads to the deposit of stubborn fat.

Stress: Having high stress level pushes your body to release a hormone called cortisol, that will cause a high insulin level. As this hormone released, you will feel the needs to consume sugary foods. The unused energy from the sugary food will be absorbed by the fat cells, causing it to enlarge.

Diet: Your diet can also influence the fat development in your body. If you are consuming more products in carbohydrates, fat and sugar group, it will definitely result in a high stubborn fat deposit around your waist.

Lack of exercise: All in all, it comes back to your lifestyle. To avoid fat from forming in the first place, it should be used in the form of exercises. Swimming, jogging and lifting weights are effective exercises to release the energy.

Insulin level: If you are having a thick middle section it might be because of your body isn’t handling insulin very well, which often results in fatty deposits around the waist.

Causes of Stubborn Fat


There are 2 key components to reducing body fat: diet and exercise. By keeping your sugary diet under control, you can help to reduce the amount of fat consumed and used in your body. You can also do intermitten fasting or keto diet to lose the fat easier.

By exercising, your body will release the energy in the fat cells, causing your fat cells to shrink. However, to make sure it helps in reducing the belly size, a strict regime of exercising needs to be in place.


It’s important to remember the first step of losing fat – consume less than what your body needs. The recommendation is to reduce 20% – 30% of your body calorie intake. For example, normal people uses around 2000 calories per day, so we’d recommend to take only 1500 calories daily. Of course, this would differ from one person to another. If you are an active individual, you might need more.



The key word to this question is ‘stubborn’. As subcutaneous fat is denser compared to visceral fat, it is harder to get rid of it. To lose it, one must have a strict regime of diet combines with a vigorous training to help burn off that fat. The process of losing stubborn fat will be a slow. So, you must have the faith in the plan and process while continue doing it.


If you’d like to know more about stubborn fat and its solution, please call us to arrange a consultation session. We are available from 8am to 12 midnight DAILY.

Call/Whatsapp: 012-662-5552


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