Is it possible to target fat loss to specific problem areas?
Read about my personal campaign to target fat loss in specific areas and discover what worked where, when and how. And discover my thoughts on how to tackle different areas of your body.
As I started losing weight, (I’m 5’6″ and my starting weight was 178lbs) I began to realise that not all my fat was equal. It became clear that my upper arms, mid back and calves (one calf in particular) were hanging on to the fat longer than say my rib cage and thighs. And I’d always hated that poc
ket of fat on my tummy aka (belly fat) – whilst it was reducing, it was still there.
The more fat I lost, the more aware I became about my body shape. So, I began to take measurements and kept going
with my diet as I watched the progress on the scales and in my measurement chart.
Most, but not all of my stubborn areas of fat are now resolved.
Identifying truly stubborn areas of fat
The first conclusion I came to, was that some of my target fat loss areas weren’t actually stubborn pockets of fat at all. They were in fact just areas of my body where the fat was more noticeable to me. And which made me feel more conspicuous when wearing certain clothes. For example bare upper arms in public, even after I was within my ideal weight range, made me feel fat. And yet as my weight dropped another 7lbs, my arms started to look more like those belonging to Michelle Obama! Result!
What’s your ideal weight got to do with it?
My point here, is that your ideal weight is somewhere within quite a wide range and is very personal to you. As I lost weight, I was excited when I finally got into the target range. But then I started to see these areas where I still had too much fat.
As I reduced my weight within the ideal range, I began to see that my ideal was certainly not at the top. And those areas of fat on my upper arms that I had thought were stubborn fat pockets, were in fact just areas that were still holding my excess weight.
At this point I was around the middle of the ideal weight range for my height.
But what about the real stubborn areas of fat?
So this pattern of uneven weight loss continued as I lost weight. When I reached 123lbs, pretty much at the bottom of my ideal weight range, I still had excess fat pockets. These are in my calves! And one calf is bigger than the other, which is really frustrating. People have now used adjectives never before applied to me, such as skinny and tiny. And whilst it feels great to hear this, I’m still quite self conscious about my calves.
Is there a solution to target fat loss in these areas?
Well, as you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of research into this in my quest to target fat loss in localised areas. And, whilst I can’t guarantee results, here’s a summary of my beliefs on what I’ve found.
My conclusions on the best way to target fat loss
We are not all equal in the way we gain weight and store fat. Some carry fat on the thighs, and for me it’s my calves.
It seems that fat localisation says a lot about the processes that led to weight gain and at the same time, the solutions to consider for effective and targeted weight loss.
Let’s look at some examples and ways to get rid of the problem fat.
Tummy or belly fat
Weight gain around the belly often suggests hormonal imbalance, including insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that allows us to regulate our blood sugar but also the storage of fat.
If you’re resistant to insulin you should prioritise good fats by favoring Omega 3 (virgin rapeseed oil, camelina, flax, oily fish). Because in reality, abdominal fat, unlike fat in other locations, is active. Abdominal fat produces inflammation that aggravates fat storage and prevents fat loss. The omega 3 will reduce the inflammation of visceral fat cells making it easier to shift.
Reducing the carbohydrate portion of your diet could help control insulin. Carbohydrates are found in sweet products of course, such as sweets, honey and chocolate. But also in cereal products, legumes and potatoes, as well as fruits. Limiting carbs and maybe supplementing with chromium or cinnamon rich foods could help in the regulation of insulin.
Chest, arms, back hanging onto excess fat?
Stress makes you fat. Rather, weight gain on the upper body suggests that the person has a high level of cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone. A person very stressed and for a long time will deplete their resources and produce a lot of cortisol, which will then put the body in “survival” mode and thus increase the feeling of hunger and fat storage. To fight against stress, opt for a neuro nutritional diet. There are some foods that seem to be particularly good for our brains, when eaten as part of a balanced diet:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Oily fish (examples: salmon, herring, mackerel)
- Berries and other deep-coloured fruits and vegetables (examples: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, spinach, beetroot, beans)
- Foods containing ‘good fats’ (nuts, seeds, fish, leafy green vegetables) and monounsaturated fatty acids (extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts)
- Dark chocolate has high levels of antioxidants, but is also high in sugar and fat. One small piece of dark chocolate per day is enough to get the antioxidant benefit.
- Green tea
You may also supplement with Iron and Magnesium.
Hips & Buttocks
Storing fat on the hips is a typical female problem since it is related to our hormone production of estrogen. A high production of estrogen can be manifested by localised fat on the lower body. To help with weight loss, you could consider alfalfa-based herbal supplements. Alfalfa is a source of vitamins A, C, E, and K4 and minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and iron. It’s thought that it helps prevent cholesterol absorption in the gut.
Very often, this weight gain is accompanied by cellulite. Cellulite is an inflammation of the fat cells. To promote its elimination, take natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories such as omega 3 and pomegranate polyphenols, or extracts of turmeric .
Legs & Arms
Now this area is of particular interest to me. I used to have an issue with storing fat on my upper arms. And still have the issue with my lower legs despite being slim every where else. Apparently. the problem here is often circulatory. Not only is the circulation bad, but often the fat cells are inflamed. Those of us in this category should consider a diet rich in antioxidants. Our diet foundation could be based on fresh fruits and vegetables, essential fatty acids (vegetable oils, fatty fish). Also herbal supplements including extracts of turmeric, red vine and witch hazel plus polyphenols such as fermented pomegranate juice concentrates.
Why I’m going to give this a shot
When I read about that poor circulation could be a possible cause for my target fat loss areas (my calves) it rang true. Up until 2014 I had been a 20 a day smoker and since losing weight, I feel the cold terribly in my hands and feet. These are known symptoms and risk factors for poor circulation. Watch this space to see how I get on and please comment and let me know your thoughts and experiences too.