If you turn on the TV, or flip to a page in a fitness magazine, you’ll probably be bombarded with advertisements boasting about how to lose that stubborn fat at your hips, or promising to reveal your six pack in 60 days. But the truth is, this sort of spot reduction is nothing but a marketing ploy. It just does not work.
I honestly wish that I could just pick a spot on my body to lose weight at. It would make my appearance goals more attainable, and that specific desire is what makes it so easy to get fooled into believing in spot reduction. If someone is promising you the chance to lose the fat at the one spot you’ve been trying to for the past 3 years, you’re going to jump at it! But try not to believe the hype! If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it probably is. 😉
Spot reduction, what?
Spot reduction is based on the idea that you can focus on one set of muscles, work on them for a bit and simultaneously lose fat there. But.. this mindset is scientifically inaccurate. When you eat food, your body is going to utilize the calories it needs to survive and to be able to perform whatever activities you need to do that day. The excess calories (energy) that you don’t use, will be turned into fat. This fat can come in two forms: subcutaneous, which is just under the skin, and then visceral fat which is deeper in the body and around the body’s organs.
So, the fat in your body can be best understood as excess calories that are stored for future use. In order to lose that weight, you need to burn off more calories than you take in. This means that you will eat at a caloric deficit. If you don’t eat enough calories in a day that your body needs, it’s going to go for your stored energy (fat).
If you eat at a caloric deficit and exercise regularly, you’re going to end up needing a lot of calories, thus forcing your body to burn that excess fat. This is weight loss! The thing is, there is absolutely no way to tell your body where to take the energy from. It’s not as simple as going: “Hey, body..can you take off the energy from my stomach? Maybe my thighs?” Instead, your fat will be reduced in your whole body.
Genetics & Fat Storage
While it is overall fat that gets reduced through a healthy diet and exercise, there are genetic factors that influence where you are going to lose fat from first. The first genetic marker is your gender. Most of the time, men put on visceral fat around their abdominal area, while women commonly stock up on subcutaneous fat at their hips and thighs. This has evolutionary significance since these spots ensured that women’s bodies are ready for pregnancy. This also means that the female body protects fat in these areas like it is a prized possession.
This makes the fat that is stored in this area pretty stubborn to remove. Women may do absolutely everything right, and only end up losing in their face and upper body, while that lower-body fat stays right in place. The good news is, that eventually, the fat in those areas will move. It just isn’t the go-to fat store for your body, so it will take some time before your body will remove the fat from that area.
On top of that, I’m sure you’ve noticed that your friends gain weight in certain places that are different from where you gain. That’s also based on your genes and your specific body profile. Just like your genetics determines your height and hair color, it also determines where you gain and lose weight first. Generally, fat tends to leave from the most recent places that they appear. So if you notice that you gain fat in your bust, or your face, then that’s probably the places where you’re going to lose it from quickly before you notice differences overall.
So, the next time you see a health gimmick boasting about the ability to burn fat in a specific part of your body, recognize it for what it is: a hoax. Spot reduction never was, and never will be scientifically supported.
All you can do is live as healthily as you can. Once you lower your overall body fat, you will be able to reach your problem areas in time! And if you find yourself in a slump, just know that you will eventually get the results you crave. You just need to stay dedicated to the process. Slow and steady does win the race, as they say.
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