If you’re looking for a way to reduce belly fat or fat in a specific part of your body, then you must be wondering whether or not it’s possible. Proponents of this practice call it “Spot reduction” or “Targeted fat loss”. They claim that you can target your thighs or midsection by following a couple of routines and eating certain foods. But does it really work? We lay out the facts for you.
Localized Fat Loss Is Physiologically Impossible
Here’s what really happens when you exercise. The enzymes and hormones that aid in fat loss are released into your bloodstream. Due to the increase in heart pumps, blood circulation also increases, thereby dispersing the hormones and enzymes all over the body.
For instance, when you do sit-ups with the hope of burning belly fat, your body automatically detects a need for energy and starts releasing the fat mobilizing enzymes and hormones. Since the hormones are carried by the blood and are now throughout your body, they start pulling fat (to source energy) from all over your body.
People have different fat patterns, which means where they hold the majority of body fat deposits vary from person to person. This is determined by hormones, genetics, and gender. Women, who are particularly ‘pear-shaped’ lose fat in their upper bodies fat before anywhere else.
No Evidence to Support Spot Reduction
A number of studies have been conducted to test whether it’s possible to get rid of localized fat. A study back in 1983 investigated a group of participants who did sit-ups to target belly fat. The results didn’t show significant change and the fat cell size or the thickness of the fat layer in the midsection was not any different than those on their backs and butts. A similar study in 2013 investigated a group of participants who did high repetition leg presses with one leg while the other leg remained inactive. The results showed that the trained leg didn’t lose more fat than the dormant leg. Surprisingly though, the majority of the participants lost fat in their upper bodies. Most of these studies failed to firmly conclude that spot reduction is an effective way of losing total body fat.
Although spot reduction may seem impossible and ineffective, you can target specific areas of your body by toning the underlying muscles. This is not to say that you can choose where you to lose fat in your body, it means you can choose where in your body you want to look more toned. There are a couple of toning exercises and strength training exercises that you can incorporate into your daily workouts to burn fat and tone specific muscles. The biggest mistake people make is training the muscles without reducing body fat percentage.
It’s wrong to assume that since you’re exercising, fat will automatically reduce. That’s why you may notice some people with big muscles but still have a big belly. This is because as the muscles grow, the layer of fat remains intact. So you end up looking bigger. For some men, this can be welcome, but for women, the main aim of exercising is to lose excess fat and appear lean not ‘bulky’. For ideal fat loss, you need the right diet that will create a calorie deficit in your body, high-intensity cardio, and strength training to attack the body fat in your body.
Exercises for Fat Reduction High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT involves short bursts of intense activities which are immediately followed by a recovery period. Several studies have proven that HIIT is a more effective way of burning body fat compared to cardio.
Cycling, swimming, and running are examples of cardio. It’s a type of exercise that targets large muscle groups and can also torch an impressive number of calories. This can help reduce the stubborn belly fat.
Full Body Workouts
These are exercises that target the whole body. Burpees, for instance, involve several muscle groups at once and may be more effective than toning exercises that target particular areas of the body.
Doing More than One Type of Exercise
For better results, combining the exercises above is a more effective way of shedding off the excess layers of body fat.
Choose Your Diets Carefully
The exercises above cannot yield the results you want if diet is not part of the program. When you exercise, you increase the level of activity than your body is used to. It’s imperative that you supply the body with sufficient energy to keep up with the routines. Losing weight is the easier part, maintaining it can be a whole lot harder. That’s why you need a healthy balanced diet that provides your body with all the essential nutrients to stay on track. In a nutshell:
- Avoid highly processed foods and sugars.
- Watch your portions.
- Increase your fiber intake.
- Go for protein-rich foods to keep you full and prevent overeating.
There is no quick fix for losing body fat. You need a combination of strength training, cardio, and a healthy meal to burn off the calories and leave your body toned and lean. Ultimately, it’s advisable to focus on losing fat all over the body than in specific areas. As a result, you will be able to achieve your weight loss goals.
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