Can You Target Body Fat During Weight Loss?
When attempting to lose weight and reduce fat in the body, people may look for exercises that target body fats. Extra stomach crunches for the abdominal section, leg lifts for the thighs and squats to tighten the buttocks are all done for the sake of reducing fat in those specific areas. Unfortunately, exercising the sections of the body where fat reduction is wanted will not produce the desired results. The human body stores away fat to burn for energy at a later time. It does not select specific areas of fat to use based on which muscles are being worked. Strength and resistance exercises do increase muscle mass where the muscle was exercised, yet any fat on top of the muscle may still remain. While overall fat may be reduced, zeroing in on precise areas is not possible. However, with enough weight loss and exercise, the fat will eventually be reduced from all areas of the body.
In 2007, the University of Connecticut performed a study on resistance training. Subjects only used their non-dominant arms to complete resistance exercises. Each subject was examined through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in both arms prior to and following the exercises over a period of three months. When using MRI for measurements, there was no difference between the arms in either gender. The conclusion reached was that spot reduction was not achieved as a result of resistance training.
In 2013, a similar study was performed over the same period of time with similar results. The conclusion again was that while targeted exercises did reduce overall body fat or fat mass in the subjects, it was not reduced significantly in the targeted body segment.
Exercise Machines That Target Fats: Myth or Fact?
Television commercials proclaim statements that their exercise devices can burn fat from the midriff or other specific areas of the body. There is no evidence substantiating these claims, meaning the devices are no more effective at selective fat reduction than manual exercises. They are simply gimmicks designed to relieve customers of their money.
Focus on Fat Loss Throughout the Body
There are three effective ways to lose fat in the body: eating healthy, burning more calories than are being consumed and performing the right exercises designed to lose weight. By combining the three practices, the body will burn off fat while increasing the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
Burning Calories – When consuming foods and drinks throughout the day, keep track of how many calories are contained in the food products. Know the recommended daily allowance (RDA) set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The RDA depends on the age and gender of an individual as well as how active that individual is each day. A 20-year old woman who is active would need 2,400 calories per day while a sedentary woman of the same age would only need 2,000 calories to maintain the same weight. Remember that it is necessary to burn more calories each day than are ingested in the same day to lose weight.
Opting for a healthier diet – Watching calories is not enough when trying to lose body fat. Carbohydrates that are not burned off are instead stored as body fat. Avoiding food products that contain unhealthy fat does not help if there are refined sugars present. To help stick with a healthy diet, keep healthy fruits on hand in conspicuous locations so it is easier to select them instead of less nutritional foods. Choose foods with low or no carbohydrates.
Exercise routine – Any amount of exercise can be beneficial to the body but to burn fat, the best exercises are a combination of strength or resistance training and high intensity cardio training. Resistance training results in continuous calorie burning while intense cardio burns large numbers of calories in shorter amounts of time.
Tricks to Looking Leaner
It takes time to lose weight, burn fat and reach body composition goals. However, the body can be made to look leaner with a few adjustments to the workout routine. Start with adding some strength training exercises to target the upper body, back and shoulders. With this exercise adjustment, the upper body will increase to make the waist appear proportionally smaller. Working the shoulders and back will also help to improve posture. When standing up straighter, the body usually also looks thinner.
When Nothing Is Happening
After weeks of working out and eating healthy, you may step on the bathroom scale or measure your waist and see that nothing has changed. Instead of giving up, stand back and analyze what has happened.
- Check that the number of calories being ingested each day is less than the number of calories being burned off through exercise.
- Analyze your daily nutritional diet maintenance. Remember that refined sugars and high carbohydrates can hinder weight loss.
- Review your exercise routine and confirm that it combines both intense cardio and strength training. Standard exercises are not enough to burn fat. Consider using a fitness trainer to help modify the exercises so you can gain the most benefits. If exercising at home without exercise equipment, consider obtaining a gym membership to use equipment for a more intense routine.