How to lose fat in troubled areas
Can I lose fat from my waist? I really want my arms to be thinner. Can I have thinner thighs? Why it is so hard to target the troubled areas in my body?
We are seeing more and more blog posts, articles, videos and ads that promise the ability to help you focus on specific “troubled” fat areas. This method is called “spot reduction,” and in today’s blog, we will discuss the science behind this controversial statement and see if it’s truly possible to target unwanted body fat.
- So, what is Spot reduction?
- Why some people carry more fat in certain areas of their bodies?
- Is Spot Reduction really effective?
So, what is Spot reduction?
A lot of people are searching for a quick solution to help burn fat in “troubled area” most commonly stored on our waistline, thighs, butt and arms. As we all may know losing fat through exercise and diet is not as quick or easy as many of us would like it to be. I see articles all the time saying “20 min Abs workout to blast the fat off your mid-section” but is this true? Although this appealing method of targeting specific body area was recently promoted in the fitness and health world, there is not that much of evidence to support this claim.
Why some people carry more fat in certain areas of their bodies?
There are many variables that effect how the body stores fat i.e. age, gender, genetics and of course lifestyle play an important role in the weight gain. As we grow older the harder it becomes to burn that unwanted body fat.
Is Spot Reduction really effective?
This method is based on the belief that exercising body muscles in the troubled areas will burn fat in that specific area. However, fat loss does not work that way!
How does fat loss really work?
Fat is stored in the body’s fat cells in a form of triglycerides. It is a form of energy that your body uses in specific occasions. When your body needs to burn these fat molecules, they must be broken down to smaller pieces, fatty acids, and glycerol. The two small molecules that are coming from the different parts of your body’s fat cells are then used during exercise to produce energy.
So, we can confidently say that spot reduction does not correlate with the way our bodies burn fat.
Are there any scientific studies around Spot reduction?
A 12-week study in 2014 found that abdominal resistance training and diet did not reduce belly fat compared to diet alone in overweight or obese women.[iii]
Another study that focused on the upper body resistance training program had the same conclusion. [iv]
In conclusion research shows that losing fat from troubled areas i.e. “spot reduction” is not possible, as our bodies burn fat in a generalized manner and not in specific areas. Everyone’s body is unique when it comes to what fat storages are burned first, but this is not something to be discouraged about. With hard work and consistence those tighter arms, slimmer mid-section, or whatever your goals may be will eventually come with a proper healthy lifestyle.
[i] University of New South Wales. "Why Do Women Store Fat Differently From Men?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115755.htm. [Accessed 22 August 2020].
[ii] Med.uio.no. 2020. Women Have Healthier Fat Than Men - Institute Of Basic Medical Sciences. [online] Available at: <https://www.med.uio.no/imb/english/research/news-and-events/news/2019/women-have-healthier-fat-than-men.html#:~:text=Men%20store%20fat%20around%20their,is%20generally%20healthier%20than%20men's.> [Accessed 23 August 2020].
[iii] Kordi R, Dehghani S, Noormohammadpour P, Rostami M, Mansournia MA. Effect of abdominal resistance exercise on abdominal subcutaneous fat of obese women: a randomized controlled trial using ultrasound imaging assessments. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2015;38(3):203-209. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.12.004
[iv] APA KOSTEK, MATTHEW A.1; PESCATELLO, LINDA S.1; SEIP, RICHARD L.2; ANGELOPOULOS, THEODORE J.3; CLARKSON, PRISCILLA M.4; GORDON, PAUL M.5; MOYNA, NIALL M.6; VISICH, PAUL S.7; ZOELLER, ROBERT F.8; THOMPSON, PAUL D.2; HOFFMAN, ERIC P.9; PRICE, THOMAS B.2,10 Subcutaneous Fat Alterations Resulting from an Upper-Body Resistance Training Program, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 7 - p 1177-1185
[v] Ramírez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Campos-Jara C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Alvarez-Lepín C, Izquierdo M. Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(8):2219-2224. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e8681
[vi] Frank I. Katch, Priscilla M. Clarkson, Walter Kroll, Thomas McBride & Anthony Wilcox (1984) Effects of Sit up Exercise Training on Adipose Cell Size and Adiposity, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 55:3, 242-247, DOI: 10.1080/02701367.1984.10609359