Why Spot Reduction Doesn't Work
Attempting to reduce the size of specific areas of the body, also known as targeted fat loss, is a common goal for many people, but unfortunately spot reduction is a myth. Here's what you need to know about why it doesn't work.
How your body works
A good way to think about it is like a bucket of water. As you add more water to the bucket, you can't choose which parts of the bucket fills up faster. If you're emptying the water out of the bucket, you also can't choose which parts of the bucket recede.
This is the same for your body, you can't select which areas gain or reduce fat, it happens across your whole body. However, the initial distribution of body fat is different for each person for a number of reasons.
Everyone is unique
The areas where we gain more body fat are typically down to individual genetics, whether we're male or female, and sometimes our stress levels and hormones can also be at play.
There's a lot about these factors that we can't do anything about. Targeted resistance exercises may help improve the appearance of the muscles in specific areas, however, it won't help spot reduce body fat which is layered over the top of muscle.
Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are associated with retaining fat around the belly, while other hormones can also influence our appearance. As women, this can shift and change as we age and progress through puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause.
It's common in the health and fitness industries for hyped-up marketing that promises to reduce your waistline, shrink love handles, and make your thighs smaller. Unfortunately, no cream, lotion, fitness programme, detox, cleanse, or special food ingredient is going to help with targeted spot reduction. What does work is getting active on a regular basis, basing your diet on eating quality whole foods, and allowing your body the time to rest and recover.
Aim for overall health
Exercise, healthy nutrition and a balanced approach to recovery will help you make progress towards your goal. Remember that you're in this for long term sustainable results, and zoning in on a single area of your body won't help with that.
Regularly getting your body moving will help reduce body fat and maintain a healthy body weight, resistance training will do that plus tone muscle. Eating nutritious whole foods and learning to listen to your body's signals will help with weight management and reduce bloating, and keeping yourself hydrated will help reduce water retention. Getting plenty of sleep and doing activities that actively allow for recovery will help balance your hormones.
All of these things intertwine with each other and there are no short cuts to this, so aim for overall health and that's what will help you to be the best version of yourself!
- Study: Stress May Cause Excess Abdominal Fat in Otherwise Slender Women. Yale News. https://news.yale.edu/2000/09/22/study-stress-may-cause-excess-abdominal-fat-otherwise-slender-women
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