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The role of toxins

But, according to a study published in 2012 in the scientific journal Obesity, stomach fat can also be related to environmental factors. It found that having high levels of the environmental toxin PCB (a stable man made organic compound used in industry until it was mostly banned in 1986, but which is still found in detectable levels in animals, particularly non grass-fed animals), fish (tuna and swordfish. For example, which tend to live longer and therefore face greater exposure times) and humans was related to a high proportion of fat in the abdomen. “These findings may indicate that PCB189, which was also related to developing diabetes, may be of significance in how fat is stored in the body,” says Monica Lind, the study’s author and associate professor in environmental medicine at the Section for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Similarly, recent research published in the US has linked a chemical found in non-stick pans and water resistant fabrics to an under-functioning thyroid. So, what’s a girl to do?

“What I prescribe is a three-pronged approach that includes targeted exercise and corrective eating in addition to taking specific supplements,” says Tomlinson, who insists we can’t get enough vital nutrients from modern foods.

“The Agency’s advice is that the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet, outweigh any risks from dioxins and PCBs.”

“The Agency’s advice is that the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet, outweigh any risks from dioxins and PCBs.”

Poliquin also believes in supplements to counteract the effect of ingesting inevitable environmental toxins, suggesting natural supplements such as glycine, vitamin C, selenium and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC).

The UK Food Standards Agency, while agreeing that “PCBs are found at low levels in all foods, including foods that are important sources of nutrients”, disagrees: “The Agency’s advice is that the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet, outweigh any risks from dioxins and PCBs.”

So what should we believe? Best to ask someone who’s tried it: Katie Dixon first had her Biosignature test done at the start of 2012 and ended up winning Britain’s strongest woman under 75kg in September of the same year. She was so impressed that she’s now signed up to become a Poliquin practitioner herself. Initially, she was struggling with fat around the hamstring (that’s fat around the back of your thighs. Believe us, it exists). Poliquin puts fat stored here down to too many toxins in the body. As such, Katie, followed a 12-week liver protocol, taking various supplements supposed to help boost liver function (the primary detoxifying organ in our bodies) and says: “After completing it, my hamstring readings were the lowest they had ever been. Nothing else changed, my diet stayed the same but the supplements I took helped me strip some of the fat from my legs.”

“After completing it, my hamstring readings were the lowest they had ever been. Nothing else changed, my diet stayed the same but the supplements I took helped me strip some of the fat from my legs.”

“After completing it, my hamstring readings were the lowest they had ever been. Nothing else changed, my diet stayed the same but the supplements I took helped me strip some of the fat from my legs.”

The role of vitamins

The problem remains that we don’t actually know for sure whether these changes are definitely the result of supplementation (they could be psychosomatic, for example). Even Poliquin devotees, like Dixon’s trainer, James Smith of Elite Bodyworks*, often believe that supplements should be handled with care: “For most women, there’ll be a big improvement in hamstring fat levels with an increase in fiber, green vegetables and the removal of sugar from the diet [...] I’d try to get everything else on track before we look at supplementation. Nobody takes enough omega-3s, nobody produces enough magnesium or zinc; I’d suggest those whether you’re an elite level athlete or a coach potato. A bit of vitamin B might help, too. But the lifestyle changes, such as eating the right things at the right time and recovering effectively from the training sessions, are the most important things in losing fat.”

eating the right things at the right time and recovering effectively from the training sessions, are the most important things in losing fat

eating the right things at the right time and recovering effectively from the training sessions, are the most important things in losing fat

In fact, he insists that sleep is the unsung hero when it comes to getting rid of fat in those stubborn areas: “Regulating your sleep patterns is really important as sleep is one of the most powerful ways your body regulates hormones.”

So what (and who) can we believe for sure? It’s still an ongoing argument but for now we do know that these four study-backed tips, below, will go some way to targeting your belly. And that’s not a bad place to start, right?

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