Blazing across the covers of fitness and beauty magazines you’ll often see article titles like “Ten Days to Thinner Thighs” or “Lose the Belly Fat with These Ab Workouts!”
It’s not just magazines either.
Books, diet plans and workout videos all claim that by exercising a certain area of the body you can slim that area in particular.
Unfortunately, these claims simply do not live up to the actual science of weight loss.
Genetics play a large role in where and how we store body fat.
Women are more predisposed to gain weight in their hips, butt and thighs whereas men are more likely to gain weight in their stomach. Exercising these areas will help the muscles underneath grow. If you are not carrying a large layer of fat over these muscles they will become more visible with growth and may make the area look slightly tighter and more muscular than previously, but you won’t actually be losing any fat in that area.
In fact, if you gain a large amount of muscle like through a strength-training or weight lifting regimen those areas will look larger than they would if you simply had a low body fat percentage.
The only reliable way to slim down your problem areas is to lose body fat overall.
Unfortunately, we can’t determine which areas shed fat first. If you carry most of your weight in your stomach along with a little excess fat overall, you may notice your face, arms, legs or breasts slimming down before the weight on your stomach starts to drop. Only by continuing to drop weight will you eventually see results in you abdomen.
If doing 100 crunches a day won’t help you lose your stomach pooch, what will?
Most doctors and fitness experts agree that real fat loss begins in the kitchen not in the gym.
Think of it this way, many people average about 100 calories burned when running a mile. 100 calories is roughly 2/3rds of a Twinkie. Skipping that Twinkie is often easier than making it to the gym every day. For people without certain health issues, maintaining a caloric deficit every day-eating fewer calories than you expend-will drop the weight eventually.
Many doctors and nutritionists cite 2lbs per week as a healthy weight loss goal.
While it may seem pointless to exercise there are two main reasons why it is important for people with the aesthetic goals of achieving the perfect beach body.
People who exercise along with dieting are more likely to keep the weight off than their counterparts who lose weight simply by dieting.
While this may partially have to do with the fact that exercise helps you retain lean muscle mass while dieting, which keeps your metabolism from bottoming out, it is also because working out and eating right are part of a healthy lifestyle and committing to a healthy lifestyle is easier for many people to maintain than yo-yo dieting.
The other reason exercise is important to people looking to lose weight for an aesthetic reason is because of muscle hypertrophy.
Muscle hypertrophy is where your muscle increases in size often becoming visible under the skin, think six-pack abs or bulging biceps. Simply losing weight won’t make you look fit or cut, it will simply make you skinny. By pairing fat loss with periods of caloric surplus and muscle gain you can achieve the idealized fit body.
There are many health and beauty benefits to working out regularly; unfortunately, doing 30 squats a day won’t give you a ballerina’s long, lean legs.
Like so many other things in health and fitness, there is no shortcut to losing fat in a certain area.
Your year-round beach body can only be achieved through hard work on the right diet and exercise, and a commitment to perseverance.