Can You Lose Weight in Specific Areas of the Body?

by Joseph P. Kearney, Educator and Weight Loss Coach

The best approach to losing fat in those stubborn areas

If you are happy with your body weight but frustrated with the flabby arms, thighs or tummy — you are not alone. A lot of people feel the same way. Many try to tone up and slim down their problem areas using special machines and gadgets to aid them. But their efforts may be fruitless. According to research findings, spot reduction is wishful thinking and simply doesn’t work.

Research findings

One study measured the subcutaneous fat of competitive tennis players, reasoning that their dominant arm would have less body fat than their non-dominate arm. This wasn’t the case. In another study, participants exercised their non-dominant arm for several weeks, but it showed no change in body fat.

Why doesn’t spot reduction work? Because our metabolism doesn’t work that way. Fat cells have many functions, one of which is the storage of fuel obtained from the food we eat. When extra energy is needed, the body releases it from fat cells found throughout the body — not just in the area you want to change.

The best approach

So will the fat remain forever? Not necessarily. But we do need to work at it.

The best approach is the holistic approach — regular exercise which includes moderately-intense daily aerobic exercise like a 30-60 minute brisk walk; non-aerobic muscle strengthening exercises such as resistance training; and interval exercises which vary the intensity throughout the workout. You will also need to incorporate a balanced and calorie-controlled diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-sugar snacks.

Yes, weight loss is about looking good. It is also about being healthy. So, find a sustainable program that will help you reduce excess body fat and improve your lifestyle in the process.

This health and wellness tip was provided by Joseph P. Kearney, a behavioral health educator and weight loss coach at Scripps Clinic Center for Weight Management.