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Why wont my body release fat?

What is body fat?

Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, is made up of fat cells called adipocytes that store energy in the form of lipids. It protects internal organs, provides insulation to help maintain body temperature, and releases hormones. The amount of body fat a person has depends on factors like genetics, diet, exercise, age, gender, and lifestyle.

The body stores fat primarily for future energy needs. When the body needs energy, it releases fat in the form of fatty acids. The fatty acids travel through the blood to tissues like muscle, where they are burned for fuel. This is why exercise helps burn fat – the working muscles are using those fatty acids for energy.

So in summary:

  • Body fat is stored energy in the form of lipids.
  • It protects organs, insulates, and releases hormones.
  • The amount of fat depends on genetics, diet, exercise and lifestyle.
  • Fat is stored for future energy needs.
  • Exercise taps into fat stores for energy.

Why won’t the body release fat stores?

There are several common reasons the body may resist releasing its fat stores:

You’re eating too much

If you consistently take in more calories than you burn through activity and metabolic processes, the body will store the excess energy as fat. To tap into fat stores, you need a calorie deficit – burning more than you consume. Without a deficit, the body has a constant supply of dietary energy so it hangs on to its fat.

Too much stress

Chronic stress causes the body to produce high levels of the hormone cortisol, which can increase fat storage, particularly abdominal fat. Cortisol also makes the body more insulin resistant, leading to increased blood sugar and more fat storage.

Insufficient sleep

Not getting enough sleep alters hormone levels in a way that slows metabolism and increases appetite. Tiredness from sleep deprivation also reduces activity levels, further contributing to positive energy balance and fat storage.

Too much intense exercise

While regular exercise is great for fat loss, too much high intensity exercise like HIIT workouts stresses the body and stimulates cortisol. This can cause your body to cling to fat stores. Balance intense workouts with easier cardio and strength sessions.

Genetic factors

Genes play a role in how your body stores and releases fat. For instance, a “thrifty gene” makes your body very efficient at storing calories as fat so you have reserves in times of famine. Genetics are not destiny but they can predispose you to hold on to fat.

Low muscle mass

Muscle is metabolically active tissue that helps burn calories around the clock. With low muscle mass, your resting metabolism is lower and you burn fewer calories day-to-day. Resistance training preserves or builds muscle so your body taps into fat more easily.

Medical conditions

Certain conditions like Cushing’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and hypothyroidism disrupt hormonal balances in a way that promotes increased fat storage. Treating the underlying condition can help improve fat loss.

Slowed metabolism

Aging, very low calorie diets, and other factors can slow your basal metabolic rate (BMR). With a sluggish BMR, your body burns fewer calories and is prone to weight gain and retaining fat on a lower calorie intake.

Too much dieting

Fad diets and constantly restricting calories often backfire and cause fat storage. Severe calorie deficits and nutritional deficiencies trigger survival mechanisms that slow your BMR and cause fat retention. Get healthy fats, carbs, and protein at regular intervals.

So in summary, the main reasons your body may hold on to fat stores include:

  • Overeating – Positive energy balance
  • Excess stress – High cortisol
  • Inadequate sleep – Tiredness and increased appetite
  • Too much intense exercise – Cortisol response
  • Genetic factors – “Thrifty genes”
  • Low muscle mass – Lower metabolism
  • Medical conditions – Hormonal disruptions
  • Slow metabolism – Aging and dieting effects
  • Severe dieting – Survival mechanism

How can you get your body to release fat?

Here are some tips to help promote healthy fat loss so your body releases its stores:

Eat in a calorie deficit

To tap into fat, you need to give your body a reason to use those reserved energy sources. Eat in a moderate calorie deficit of 300-500 calories daily to start burning fat without starving yourself.

Increase activity levels

More activity burns more calories and signals your body to release fat. Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity like brisk walking.

Lift weights and build muscle

Adding 2-3 strength sessions per week will help increase and preserve calorie-burning lean muscle mass while you lose fat.

Get enough sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours per night minimum. Proper sleep optimizes hormones for fat release and curbs cravings caused by fatigue.

Manage stress

Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other relaxing practices to lower cortisol. Minimize unnecessary sources of stress.

Be patient and persistent

It takes time and consistency to tap into fat stores and build new habits. Stay focused on the long game – even slow progress gets you there.

Avoid extremely low calorie diets

Severely restricting calories often backfires. Get a minimum of 1200 calories daily as a woman and 1500 as a man for sustainable loss.

Eat plenty of protein

Protein is satiating and helps preserve muscle while losing fat. Aim for 0.5-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Include healthy fats

Get 20-30% of calories from sources like avocado, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish. Healthy fats improve satiety and optimize hormones.

Manage medical issues

See your doctor to address any underlying conditions or get medications that may help if health issues are interfering with fat loss.

Optimize hormones

Improving thyroid function, reducing cortisol, and balancing reproductive hormones can all help facilitate fat release.

In summary:

  • Eat in a moderate calorie deficit
  • Increase activity levels
  • Lift weights and build muscle
  • Get enough quality sleep
  • Manage stress
  • Be patient and persistent
  • Avoid extremely low calorie diets
  • Eat plenty of protein
  • Include healthy fats
  • Manage medical issues
  • Optimize hormones


Releasing stored body fat requires creating a calorie deficit through diet and exercise modifications. Be aware that extreme low calorie dieting, excessive cardio, and insufficient sleep will often backfire and cause your body to cling to fat stores. With patience and consistency in making healthier lifestyle changes, your body will let go of excess fat over time. Certain medical conditions may also need to be managed to get your body releasing fat optimally. While losing fat isn’t easy, taking a balanced, patient approach helps set you up for success.