In the modern world, being overweight is unfortunately quite common. Millions of people would like very much to shed some of their excess pounds. Many plans for weight loss center not around losing weight in general, but on losing weight from a specific spot. For example, someone may wish to drop some pounds from their midsection, while being less concerned about other areas.
The theory behind most plans to spot-reduce fat is that certain exercises can be used to specifically target fat in a given part of the body. Let’s take the previous example of someone who wants to lose weight from their stomach. Here, the idea would be that sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, and other moves that work the abdomen will result in fat loss from the midsection. On the surface, this theory might simply seem like common sense.
But there’s just one problem: that’s not at all how weight loss works. While exercise does help someone lose weight, it doesn’t do so in a manner that would allow spot-reduction of fat. When an excess of calories are consumed, they are stored as subcutaneous fat by the body. When, conversely, the body takes in fewer calories than it burns, the stored fat is metabolized into energy for the muscles, resulting in fat loss.
However, when a muscle is forced to draw upon fat stores for energy, the fat used is drawn from the entire body. This means that while exercise will certainly strengthen the muscles involved, it won’t do anything specifically about the fat stored in the surrounding area. Working a certain muscle group might be wonderful for fitness purposes, but it will never lead to any localized fat loss.
In fact, where a person will lose fat from depends primarily on genetics. Some will lose in one area, others from another. The general rule is that the first place a person gains weight will be the last place they lose it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about such biological tendencies.
All this doesn’t mean that trying to lose weight is pointless, or that exercise plays no role in dropping excess pounds. It simply means that if someone wants to lose weight in a specific location, they are going to have to lose weight everywhere else as well.
While disproved by scientists long ago, the myth of spot reduction has survived, largely because of the efforts of unscrupulous hucksters looking to make an easy buck. Many bizarre weight-loss devices (often marketed on late-night infomercials) base their absurd claims on the logic of spot-reduction. The false theory is also frequently espoused by the sellers of dubious weight loss supplements or fad diet and exercise plans.
In reality, the only way to lose weight from a specific area is to lose weight in general — and the only way to do that is to follow the classic, established, scientifically-proven methods. Namely, exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced diet. The bottom line is that anyone who believes in the myth of spot reduction is only setting themselves up for disappointment. Better to pursue a weight-loss strategy that actually works, even if it doesn’t allow the targeting of fat in specific problem spots.
Are you looking to lose body fat? What we recommend is a combination of our Nutrition Coaching and Group Classes or working with our Online Personal Trainers. Contact us at [email protected] for more information!