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Is it Possible to Spot-Target Weight Loss?

Written by Courteney

Posted on December 16, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Is it possible to target what areas of your body you wish to lose fat from? There are plenty of advertisements, infomercials and products that will try to lead you to believe that weight loss can be strategic like that, but unfortunately science doesn’t quite back up this idea. Let’s take a closer look:

Does Spot Reduction Work?

Targeting specific areas for weight loss is known as ‘spot reduction’. It is quite an appealing notion, as many of us have “problem areas” we’d love to firm up or reduce, however, it isn’t that easy. One good example of a study that debunks this theory is one conducted by the University of California on the subcutaneous fat content of tennis players’ dominant tennis arms as compared to their opposite arms. The study yielded no noticeable difference between the more active arms and the unused ones. So, if professional tennis players who work those arms daily can’t achieve target fat reduction, how will the average Joe?

So, Why Can’t We Target Areas for Weight Loss?

Yale Scientific speculates that one reason spot-targeting isn’t effective is because many exercises that target specific areas are strength-training-based and not cardiovascular activities. You burn more calories and fat by doing cardio than by doing things like sit-ups or weight lifting. Don’t get us wrong, those activities are still excellent for building and firming muscle, but cardiovascular exercise is what really burns fat.

How Does the Fat Burning Process Work?

Cardio is generally a whole-body exercise, so you don’t really get to choose the areas the fat will burn from. It works by converting triglycerides in our system into glycerol which travels through the bloodstream to the muscles, which release this energy as heat, essentially ‘burning’ up the fat. So it just isn’t the type of process that can localize itself to a particular problem area, it involves the whole system.

So How Do We Change Those ‘Problem Areas’?

Just because exercise doesn’t discriminate where it works, doesn’t mean you won’t eventually start seeing positive changes in the areas you wish to target. By engaging in the recommended amount of weekly exercise and eating a balanced diet, you should start seeing whole-body weight loss, which will help those problem areas as well as the rest. And remember, we are all too hard on ourselves sometimes. As long as you’re doing everything you can to live a healthy lifestyle, try to cut yourself a break when it comes to the little things!

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