How do I lose the fat around my belly? Facts about Spot Reduction

This article has been reproduced with the kind permission ofhttp://www.weightloss.com.au/exercise/exercise-articles/spot-reduction.html weightloss.com.au.

We’ve all seen infomercials selling abdominal or thigh “blasters” that claim to help us lose fat ‘effortlessly’ in just ‘minutes a day’ around problem areas like our waist, hips and thighs. This article will tell you the truth about how to get six-pack abs and trim down other problem areas, how to tackle them properly and in doing so hopefully help protect you from all the marketing hype surrounding misleading exercise equipment infomercials.

Spot Reduction

In the fitness industry, trimming down specific areas of the body is called Spot Reduction.

Contrary to what the infomercials suggest, there is no such thing as spot reduction, other than that achieved via unnatural means like liposuction.

Body fat distribution

Where our body stores fat depends upon our:


As these factors affect where our body stores fat, they also affect where and in what sequence fat is lost on our bodies.

Fat storage and loss sequences

Approximately half of our stored body fat is stored in between the skin and muscles and the other half is stored around our organs.

But the fat stored under the skin is not distributed evenly around the body. Typically we all have thinner layers of fat on our face, hands, neck, calves and forearms. The layers around the core of our body (including upper arms and legs) are usually a lot thicker.

Generally speaking, when our body draws on fat stores for fuel, it draws it relatively evenly from all over the body. However, it is also believed that fat will generally be lost first from the area of the body where it was last deposited.

For women, this means that we will lose fat first from places like our face, neck, wrists, hands and calves, and lastly from places like our hips, thighs and upper arms. For the guys, the last place they will lose fat is usually around the tummy.

Problem area fat loss

The key to looking our absolute best and being healthy is to minimize excess body fat and have strong, well-toned muscles.

Luckily both of these can be achieved by us all with the right approach, which includes the right combination of diet, incidental, cardio and strength or resistance exercise.

Sorry to disappoint those of us that were hoping that we could achieve the results we want by doing effortless stuff for only a few minutes a day!

So now that we’ve swallowed that hard little pill, let’s get on with it! Let’s explore each of the four things we can and should do to get rid of fat from our problem areas, no matter where they are.

Cardio exercise

Cardio exercise is critical if we want to maximize total fat loss. One of the great things about this form of exercise is that it also helps tone some muscles, particularly those in the legs, hips and arms.

The best cardio exercises to do are those that we like and will do regularly.

Doing a variety of cardio workouts, as well as keeping our body challenged and burning a maximum amount of fat, helps with motivation and alleviates boredom.

Choose from the following list of enjoyable alternatives to walking, jogging or aerobics classes:

Mountain Biking
In-line Skating
Line, Flamenco or Ballroom Dancing
Martial Arts
Swimming or water sports
Spin cycling
Circuit training

At a minimum, we should all do aerobic exercises that raise our heart rate to around 70 – 80% of our maximum, for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. For the best results, we should try hard to gradually increase our cardio exercise to sessions lasting between 45 and 60 minutes, five to seven times a week.

For those days when it’s cold and wet outside, it’s a great idea to invest in a few fitness tapes or DVD’s so we can workout in the comfort of our own home. Better yet, if we can afford to, investing in a good quality exercise bike or treadmill means we can exercise all year round and whenever we want to.

Strength Training exercise

Weight training is the only natural way to individually shape and sculpt our muscles and is one of the best ways to alter our appearance and balance our proportions.

Strength training is also the key to really toning and strengthening our muscles, so that when we do lose the fat from our problem areas, the muscles visible look shapely and strong.

In addition to helping us look our very best, strong, toned muscles help us burn more calories in our daily life and therefore work in combination with our cardio exercise in keeping excess fat stores to a minimum.

The best strength training exercises to do are the ones that use the biggest muscles (such as our thighs), and tone the muscles we want most to show off after we’ve lost our body fat (like our triceps at the back of our upper arms for example).

The resistance exercises we do should also be tailored to our body shape. For example if we are very slight in the upper body we may want to do exercises like shoulder presses and chest presses to help balance our upper body and lower limbs.

For good results, try to weight train two to three times a week, exercising each muscle group once or twice a week.

General exercise tips:

To help us get the most out of our cardio and weight training workouts we should all:

Focus on enjoying the exercise, not on what we are trying to achieve by doing it

Begin our program at a comfortable level and progress slowly
Get expert help from a personal trainer or gym instructor
Check with our doctor before beginning any exercise program

Incidental exercise

Incidental exercise is that exercise we get doing everyday things like walking to the train station, climbing stairs, washing dishes or the car, gardening, playing with children, walking the dog, etc.

By looking for opportunities to increase the incidental exercise we get, instead of trying to avoid it, we’ll burn far more calories than normal and this will help us immensely in our fight to rid our body of unwanted fat.

Dieting for fat loss

Dieting for fat loss does not mean starving ourselves or denying ourselves some of the foods we enjoy eating.

On the contrary, it simply means trying to keep our fat intake down below 30% of total calories consumed, eating fresh foods and minimizing process foods wherever possible, keeping salt and sugar consumption down to a minimum and keeping our portion sizes down.

It also means keeping total calories down, avoiding high calorie drinks and drinking plenty of water every day.

Basically, we just need to try to eat healthy.

Strict diets aren’t healthy and can actually be counter-productive to fat-loss.

We should all use the food pyramid as a guide and try to eat 4 to 6 small meals each day.

Other stuff

Of course there are a couple of other things that we can all do to minimize the anguish caused by having too much fat in all the wrong places:

Dress appropriately for our shape to show off our assets and hide our flaws
Stop judging ourselves too harshly and be happy if our weight isn’t so high that it is currently causing, or is likely to lead to, weight related health problems

The bottom line

OK, so now we know the cold, hard truth, the rest is up to us.

We should never again be tempted by clever marketers into believing that with a cheap little machine, and just a few minutes a day of effortless exercise we can lose fat around our waist, hips and thighs, and have the body of our dreams.

Sure, with just a little resistance training we can all “spot tone”, but we can’t “spot reduce.”

The best way to achieve the firm, slender body we all want is to get rid of excess fat through aerobic exercise and healthy eating while doing strengthening and toning exercises to define the muscles that lie beneath.

Forget cheap equipment, simple and easy solutions and spot reduction.

Instead, say hello to healthier eating, exercise, discipline and patience, and the new body we’re going to be proud to show off.


We’ve all seen infomercials selling abdominal or thigh “blasters” that claim to help us lose fat ‘effortlessly’ in just ‘minutes a day’ around problem areas like our waist, hips and thighs.

This article told you the truth about trimming down problem areas, how to tackle them properly and should help protect you from all the marketing hype surrounding misleading exercise equipment infomercials and the spot reduction myth.

Good luck with your fat reduction and thanks for visiting weightloss.com.au.

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