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Fact Check: Is It Possible to Target Fat Loss to Specific Body Parts?

Spot Reduction is a myth. (Image by Andrea Piacquadio)
Spot Reduction is a myth. (Image by Andrea Piacquadio)
Tooba Hashmi

If advertising is to be believed, all you need is the latest piece of 'ab blaster' workout equipment to remove fat off your stomach and reveal the toned muscles beneath. It's a seductive idea that a specific exercise may target your butt, thighs, or stomach, but it is still a myth.

Let’s talk about one of the clearest examples of why "spot reduction" is a myth. Each arm's fat and muscle regions were compared in a study including top tennis players. If there was any truth to the phrase "spot fat reduction," the tennis players' dominant arm should have less fat. After all, that's years of focused one-arm serving, power hitting, and smashing practice. Meanwhile, the opposite arm is a spectator, appearing only for backhand blows with less power.

What did the researchers discover? The circumference of the dominant arm was greater, which was expected due to muscular development. However, there was no variation in fat content between the two arms regarding fat storage. This study explains why you will never see an overweight person with a visible six-pack, no matter how many crunches they perform.

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What is Spot Reduction?

The concept of spot reduction is marketable but a fallacy. The general notion is that performing various activities reduces fat in specific body locations. Leg lifts, for example, can reduce fat around the hips and thighs; ab exercises will result in flat stomach and sculpted abs, and chest exercises will eliminate fat around your chest.

There isn't enough evidence to back up the claim that spot reduction works. A holistic approach that includes both physical activity and nutrition is likely to be more effective if you wish to shed fat in certain body areas.


Does Spot Reduction Work?

In short, no, spot reduction doesn't work!

When you expend more calories than you consume to lose weight, you generate a calorie deficit, which forces your body to consume energy stored in your adipocytes cells as fat. When those cells are used for energy, their size begins to shrink. As a result, the body may shrink due to stored fat reduction.

This is where it becomes frustrating. The body gets energy from more than only the cells in your working area. Leg lifts alone won't do much for eliminating fat from the thighs because it takes energy from the entire body. Leg exercises, on the other hand, can improve lower-body strength and endurance.

So, while exercising to target specific body areas can help you build muscle and shape those areas, it won't necessarily help you reduce fat. Instead, you'll need to improve your overall diet to reduce fat storage and boost your activity level to burn fat that has already been accumulated throughout your body.


Why Do Some People Want to Lose Weight in Specific Areas?

People wish to lose weight for various reasons, including improved health and reduced risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Some people carry excess weight proportionately, while others store fat in places such as the buttocks, thighs, and tummy.

Weight increase and the accumulation of stubborn regions of body fat are influenced by gender, age, genetics, and lifestyle. Women, for example, have a higher body fat percentage than men and tend to retain excess fat in their thighs and buttocks, especially during reproductive years.

On the other hand, men are more prone to gain weight in their midsections. Weight gain can be extremely irritating, leading many people to seek easier dieting options or boost their physical activity. Spot reduction is a misleading approach to losing weight which eventually worsens the situation.

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Want to Lose Weight? Focus on What You are Eating.

All you need to do is to be in a calorie deficit, simultaneously increasing overall physical activity to catalyze the weight loss process. Adding new workouts to your daily routine is beneficial to weight loss and general health.

Sticking to a nutritious diet plan is critical while attempting to lose body fat. Indeed, eating unhealthy foods or overeating can easily destroy all of your workout efforts. Exercise alone is ineffective for weight loss, according to studies, unless a conscious effort is made to reduce calorie intake and make appropriate food choices. Combine the following eating ideas with an exercise plan to lose weight and keep it off:

  • When trying to reduce weight, portion control is essential. Using smaller plates or measuring out serving sizes to educate your eye is one technique to limit your eating consumption.
  • Fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, beans, fruits, and oats, make you feel fuller and can help you avoid overeating. Eating a fiber-rich salad before meals is a great method to lose weight.
  • Limit the consumption of processed foods and added sugar in your diet. To lose weight, you need to avoid processed meals like sweets, chips, cakes, and fast food.
  • Protein keeps you full and may help you avoid overeating. Studies have shown that eating a protein-rich breakfast can help you lose weight by reducing overeating.
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How to Reduce Fat in Problematic Areas

While spot reduction may not be the best use of your time, there are several evidence-based ways to lose fat and tone your complete body. High-intensity workouts and activities that involve the full body, for example, have been demonstrated to be the most effective for weight loss. The following are the greatest exercises for total fat loss:

Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging and cycling, engages vast muscle groups and has been shown to burn calories effectively. It has the potential to help you lose stubborn tummy fat.

HIIT: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that comprises short bursts of intense exertion followed by a time of rest. HIIT is more effective in burning fat than steady-state cardio in studies.

Full-body movements: Full-body exercises, such as burpees, have been demonstrated to burn more calories and result in greater fat loss than isolated muscle toning activities.

Combined exercises: Combining exercises has been proven to be more successful at losing weight than relying on one exercise alone.


Takeaway

Dismiss the misconception that you can spot-reduce fat, no matter how often you see it promoted in magazine articles, on the internet, or in television infomercials. To market memberships, some fitness clubs may even promise a perfect body. You'll notice it everywhere once you're aware of it, and you'll be too wise to believe these bogus promises.


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Edited by Sabine Algur

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