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Spot reducing: loosing love handles, belly fat, & other undesirable body fat.
    

Brian Bambl, B.S. Exercise Science 2010-02-20

Female waist pinch

People often ask questions such as, “How do I get rid of my love handles?”, “How do I get rid of my belly fat?”, or “How do I lose back fat?”   

 The idea of selectively removing body fat from specific areas is known as “spot reducing.”  Women typically want to remove fat from their hips, thighs, buns, stomach, back of their arms, and back while men typically desire to remove fat from their stomach, chest, back of their arms, and back.

In hoping to remove fat from specific areas people have performed exercises that are specific to the area of fat.  For example, some people have performed crunches in hopes of removing unwanted belly fat.  However, the reality is that body fat cannot be selectively burned by working a specific area.  The best way to think of body fat distribution is that your body has a specific map for the distribution of fat.  In order to simplify this idea let’s assume that our bodies have only three areas to store fat: our belly, our thighs, and the back of our arms.  Now, using arbitrary numbers made up by me we could say that anytime we have an excess of Calories from carbohydrates, protein, or fat in our diet, that 50% is stored as fat in our thighs, 40% as fat in our bellies, and 10% as fat on the back of our arms.  So, the distribution of fat throughout our bodies is predetermined by our bodies “fat map.”  Humans have fairly similar “fat maps”, but still everyone is unique in where their body stores fat.  One of the reasons for similarities is that “the activity of enzymes that store fat in women’s thighs and hips is very high compared with the enzyme activity in other fat storage areas in women and to fat storage in the hips and thighs of men.  Moreover, activity of the enzymes that release the fat is low, making it difficult to lose fat in these areas.” (Clark)

Conclusion

 We really cannot determine where body fat is stored when we have an excess of Calories or what body fat we remove when we have a Caloric deficit from dieting and or exercise.  The best and only way of removing body fat from specific areas without major surgery is to lose fat all throughout the body until enough fat is lost in the specifically desired areas.

 

1.  Clark, Nancy.  Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Third edition.  2003 

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