Fat Distribution & Spot Reduction

Fat Distribution & The Spot Reduction Myth

Are you suffering with thunder thighs, a muffin top, bingo wings or a serious case of love handles? The majority of people will have at least one of these dreaded stubborn areas which they seem to not be able to shift.

body fat

Fat is stored on our body as a system for survival, fat is essentially stored energy. Back in the days when our ancestors had to hunt for food, they would sometimes go weeks without eating a proper meal. However when they had a successful hunt, there would be plenty of food and they would therefore overeat. These extra calories are stored as fat and this fat would be used as energy for when there is no food available. Our bodies are not designed to be exposed to daily overindulgence, however modern living has promoted binging, causing some people to store more fat than our predecessors.


The majority of fat is distributed evenly across the body however, fat is stored differently for everyone, mainly depending on their genetics and hormone levels. Some people have trouble losing fat on their lower bodies, some on their backs and some around the torso. These are called stubborn areas and this is where our body will hold on to fat and will store more than other areas of the body. Men will commonly have problem areas around their torso section and women commonly struggle with fat storage on their legs and arms, although there is no right or wrong place for your body to store fat.


The leaner your body is, the less prominent your stubborn areas will be. When our bodies get down to extremely low body fat levels (4-7% for men or around 15% for women) there will be such a low amount of fat that your body will be lean everywhere. A lot of people will discover that after getting this lean, once they start to gain fat again, there body will store it much more evenly across their body, however it does not work like this for everyone.

Fat spot reduction

So how can we battle these stubborn areas?


Surely doing countless sit ups will burn fat on our bellies, wont it? And thousands of squats will burn off those thunder thighs, right? Well, unfortunately not. Our bodies do not work like this. Think about it, if everyone could burn fat from specific areas of their body, we would have men at 30% body fat but with abs like Alon Gabbay. It just doesn’t make sense.


The only way to reduce fat on our stubborn areas is to, well… lose fat!


Our bodies’ burn fat pretty much evenly across our entire body and we cannot spot reduce fat in certain areas of our body without using surgery. At the end of the day fat loss is down to energy expenditure. When we burn more calories than we consume, our body loses fat. Doing certain exercises will not burn fat from one specific region of the body.


The only way to make a part of your body appear to carry less fat is to grow the muscles around it. For example a great squat program will improve the look of your lower body even if it is carrying the same amount of fat. This is because the muscles in your legs have gotten larger and therefore the fat is spread over a greater amount of muscle, which in turn gives your leg a leaner look. Building your body frame will greatly improve your body image, even at higher body fat percentages.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile oranisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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