Where you store fat – Biotyping
I have been working with clients for over 10 years and every 6 weeks measuring them fat % using a skin caliper. Many years of meticulous readings based on 7 skin fold and a specific software helps identify the correct reading. I measure fat % in the following areas: Tricep (back of the arms), Subscapular (shoulder blade), Pectorals (chest), Suprailiac (love handles), Abdominal (tummy), Mid Axillary (between the ribs and hips), Quads (tights). Clients and newbies always seek the reasons for storing fat in certain areas. Then the big question: How to get rid of the fat…?! The answer is Biotyping.
Biotyping is gaining popularity amongst healthcare professionals, personal trainers and Nutritional Therapists. I work with 25 Biotype – aka body types – The BodyID System. Not surprising, as it’s a principle whereby nutrition recommendations are individualized to suit metabolism and biochemical individuality to help boost weight loss and improve health.
Charles Poliquin developed his form of biotyping whilst working with athletes, gaining data from blood, urine and saliva tests. His BioSignature Modulation system focuses on achieving specific body fat reduction through hormone balance. Poliquin believes that fat accumulates in specific body areas because certain hormones are too high, too low or just out of balance and this belief is based on 20 years of his own data. There is research to suggest that higher body fat levels disrupt hormones causing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer and there is also evidence to support some of Poliquin’s assertions of hormones causing regional fat distribution.
The BioSignature system relates six different hormone types to the accumulation of fat in different body areas.
Androgen type – accumulation of fat on upper arms and chest
Insulin type – accumulation of fat on shoulders and hips
Thyroid type – accumulation of fat on ribs
Cortisol type – accumulation of fat on abdomen
Oestrogen type – accumulation of fat on bottom and thighs
Growth hormone type – accumulation of fat on knees and calf
The BioSignature system suggests that fat on the Tricep (back of the upper arm) indicates low androgen levels (male sex hormones) including testosterone. This does correspond with studies which report that obese men tend towards a decline in testosterone levels. Researchers from California found that lowering circulating testosterone of healthy young men led to increased fat storage on the appendices and abdomen, whereas elevating testosterone concentrations above normal levels caused fat loss in these areas. Similarly, male adolescents with low DHEA, a precursor to androgens, were found to have significantly lower levels of mid-arm muscle mass compared to boys with normal levels of DHEA. According to this system, the excess fat on the Chest indicates the conversion of male sex hormones to female sex hormones. There’s research from Canada that demonstrated this conversion of hormones related to between 6 and 30 times greater fat deposition on the torso than on the abdomen. The Department of Paediatric Endocrinology at Süleyman Demirel University in Turkey has found that leptin, a hormone released from fat cells, stimulates the conversion of male sex hormones to female sex hormones causing breast tissue to grow in boys. So the more body fat you have, the more leptin you release which changes your hormones and tells your body to grow ‘man boobs’.
Fat reduction – androgen type
To prevent further fat deposits on the arms and chest boost your testosterone naturally by consuming more protein and increasing magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. Flavonoids help reduce the conversion of male hormones to female hormones. These include quercetin, naringenin, chrysin, daidzein and genistein found in flax seeds, apples, berries, onions, soya products and green tea. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, has also been found to help.
This hormone type has a regional fat distribution on the shoulder blades and top of the hips, commonly referred to as ‘the muffin top’ which reflects insulin resistance. Research from The Medical College of Wisconsin suggests that the shoulder blade skinfold may help identify risk of type 2 diabetes in pre-menopausal women. Additionally, research from Spain reported that obese pre-pubescent boys and girls had significantly elevated insulin and glucose levels which correlated with shoulder blade skin fold thickness. Researchers from the Department of Human Biology at Maastricht University reported that shoulder blade skinfold thickness is significantly associated with persistent impaired glucose tolerance. There seems to be good evidence to support Poliquin’s association of these fat sites with poor insulin function.
Fat reduction – insulin type
To prevent the muffin top from progressing it’s advisable to consume more oily fish and eat a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet as well as eating regular meals with additional fibre to stabilise blood sugar. The prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a low GL diet helps to reduce insulin and triglycerides and aids weight loss in overweight and obese people. Various herbs such as fenugreek, bitter gourd and Gymnema sylvestre help to lower blood sugar, inhibit glucose uptake in the small intestine and have adaptogenic properties on insulin production. A scientific review from Thames Valley University indicates that cinnamon has been shown to improve insulin function and possesses blood sugar-lowering properties. Researchers from Cambridge University demonstrated that chromium deficiency is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Chromium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity, reduces blood pressure and reduces free radical damage to DNA.
The BioSignature system suggests that there is a relationship between fat stored on the rib cage, (midway between the armpit and the top of the hips) with thyroid activity. This system suggests that the less fat you have in this area the healthier your thyroid gland and activity. However, at present there is little scientific research to support the theory that rib cage fat deposits reflect thyroid function. There is research to suggest that as waist circumference and BMI increase so T3 and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels increase whilst T4 levels decrease, suggesting a change in thyroid function.
Fat reduction – thyroid type
Nutrition recommendations for this site include eating fish, onions, asparagus and seaweeds for iodine and poultry, fish, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds for tyrosine. These nutrients are required for the body to make thyroid hormones. Foods containing selenium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin B6 help the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3).
This type shows an accumulation of fat on the tummy region which, according to Poliquin, reflects excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Research from the University of California demonstrated that women with a higher waist to hip ratio and central obesity reported more chronic stress and secreted significantly more cortisol during a stress test than women with a low waist to hip ratio. Similarly, research from Spain demonstrated that disrupted cortisol levels leads to a distribution of fat on the abdominals.
Fat reduction – cortisol type
Removing and reducing your exposure to stressors thus reducing cortisol is called for to reduce abdominal fat accumulation. Poliquin suggests one of the most common stressors is the consumption of foods to which we are intolerant. Suspect foods include wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, yeast and corn. According to Poliquin, by reducing exposure to these foods, you reduce the stress on the gastrointestinal and immune system, lowering cortisol. Another important stress reducer is controlling blood sugar by eating regular meals that have a well balanced protein, fat and carbohydrate ratio. There are various herbs that are known to help reduce stress, one of the better known being rhodiola. Vitamin C, B5 and magnesium are also traditionally used to help with stress as they are used by the adrenal glands to make stress hormones. Supplementing with these nutrients may be of benefit.
Fat accumulation on the buttocks and thighs reflects raised levels of oestrogen (both self-made and environmental) along with possible poor oestrogen metabolism according to the BioSignature system. Research from Denmark has shown that fat cells of both men and women contain oestrogen receptors, with men having more receptors on fat underneath the skin and women having more receptors on fat around the organs as well as fat beneath the skin. Women have also been shown to have a higher number of fat cells on the buttocks and thighs and have higher enzyme activity causing the absorption of fat from the general circulation in this area. Research studies have also shown that leg fat, such as that on the buttocks and thighs, increased in response to oestrogen hormone treatment. Other research conducted on drugs that suppressed the body’s oestrogen production showed significant increases of trunk but not leg fat. Oestrogen administered by a drip also demonstrated that the breakdown of fat decreased in fat underneath the skin, particularly on the thighs. These studies support the suggested role played by oestrogen in fat accumulation on the buttocks and thighs.
Fat reduction -oestrogen type
Supporting oestrogen metabolism and elimination helps reduce fat accumulation. Studies have shown that sulphurophane and indoles found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage help to regulate liver enzymes that metabolise oestrogen. Other nutrients that are beneficial to oestrogen metabolism are phytoestrogens found in soy products and flax seeds. Estrogens are also metabolized by the process of methylation in the liver, so consuming foods rich in methyl donors such as B12, B6 and folic acid may also be useful.
Growth hormone type
Poliquin suggests that excess fat on the knee and calf reflects low levels of growth hormone. Research has found that growth hormone-deficient adults had more body fat, which normalised after growth hormone replacement therapy. However, there’s insufficient research linking these sites of fat accumulation to growth hormone levels. We rely on Poliquin’s own data for this association.
Fat reduction – growth hormone type
Growth hormone can be boosted by the use of both glutamine and arginine supplements.