How to target fat loss: The spot reduction myth
When it comes to fat loss, we all have our trouble spots. Weight loss goals are often focused on targeting those trouble spots. For example, people want to learn what exercises can burn stomach fat or give them “wedding dress arms”. The idea that we can achieve spot reduction is one of the biggest fat loss misconceptions.
The spot reduction myth is a lie propagated by infomercials and websites that promise a few simple exercises will achieve fat loss in a specific area. This sales pitch works because it targets what consumers want. A quick fix to our one problem. The truth is there that there is no specific exercise, workout routine, pill or supplement that can target one area for fat loss over another area of your body.
Just as men and women store fat in different places in their bodies, individuals store fat in their own unique places as well. It is a matter of individual genetics.
We don’t get to choose where we store our fat, so what makes you think we can choose where we burn it from?
When people hear this from me, they often get upset. That is not what they want to hear. No one likes finding out they’ve been lied to.
The good news is, you absolutely can lose fat in your trouble spot, but simply targeting the muscles underneath the fat will not help with fat loss in that area. This is why doing endless crunches and ab workouts will not give you a flat stomach. Crunches work your abdominal muscles, but do nothing to burn the fat on top of them. The results of your ab workouts will go largely unnoticed if you try to burn fat this way. Instead of just doing crunches, start an integrated exercise program, begin eating healthily and start burning more calories than you consume. Then you will see fat loss.
Dr. Mike Clark of Sharecare Fitness says, “To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume, putting your body in an energy deficit forcing your body to use your excess fuel (ie fat) to keep you moving throughout the day.”
Understanding your caloric deficit is fundamental to losing weight. A Calorie Counter does a great job explaining this concept. But in a nutshell, the woman who wants to burn fat from her thighs and the man who wants to burn it from his stomach will both have a similar path to achieve their goals. Diet and exercise.
Part of the reason the spot reduction misconception is so persistent is because we can successfully target body parts when we do resistance or weight training. For example, there are exercises we can do to can make our legs or arms stronger and more muscular. So, if your goal is to lose fat from your thighs, doing leg exercises can help you achieve your goal of having strong, sexy legs. However, don’t think that doing squats will remove the fat on your thighs just because it is a leg exercise.
If you exercise, your body will burn fat, and if you maintain a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. Your overall fitness will improve. Fat will be lost. If you are committed to a lifestyle change — not a quick fix — you can transform your trouble spots, but it will be part of an overall transformation, which is what your body really wants anyway.