Fat Loss and Spot Reduction

body fatSpot reduction is the attempt to lose body fat from a specific area of the body by doing exercises that target the area of interest.  Although exercises performed for a particular body part will result in an increase in strength in that area, it is not possible to target fat loss to one specific location.  Another misconception is that you can turn body fat into muscle.  Muscle and fat are two different types of tissues and you can not turn one into the other.  Participation in an appropriate weight management program will result in a decrease in subcutaneous body fat and an increase in muscle tissue.  An acceptable range of body fat is 14-24% for men and 21-31% for women.

During a weight loss program, fat is lost from the entire body.  This is accomplished when a calorie deficit is created.  If you burn more calories than you consume, your body will start to burn some of your fat stores.  However, there is more to it than just calories in verses calories out.

Uncontrollable factors that effect body fat:

Gender:  Men typically have an easier time with weight loss compared to women due to a greater amount of muscle mass.  Men have more testosterone which leads to greater muscle mass.  A more muscular body burns more calories.

Age:  As we age our metabolic rate (rate at which we burn energy) decreases.  In addition, as a woman become perimenopausal, which can start to occur as early as age forty, hormonal changes result in fat deposited in the abdominal area.

Genetics:  Your genes determine your unique fat distribution.   If everyone in your family tends to gain weight in the thighs for example, you will be prone to storing fat in the thighs.

Controllable factors that effect body fat: 

Sleep:  Sleep deprivation causes hormonal changes that lead to weight gain.  Most adults require about 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Nutrition:  Consuming a high fiber diet will help prevent you from overeating because fiber will help you feel full and prevent you from consuming extra calories.  Fiber can be found in vegetables, fruit and whole grains.  Skipping meals also results in overeating when you finally get to a meal.  The excess calories consumed will be stored as body fat.

Exercise:  Have a fitness program that includes cardiovascular and strength training exercises.

Exercising a specific area of the body where fat is stored does not result in fat loss from the target area.  However, consistency with nutrition and exercise will lead to a reduction in overall body fat.  As you begin your weight loss journey focus on what you can control which are healthy lifestyle choices.