14 Apr Spot Reduction: Is Targeted Fat Loss Possible?
Take a moment to think about this:
Every time you are staring at yourself in the mirror, what’s the first spot on your body that your eyes zoom in on? The “problem area” that you’ve been trying to lean out for month or even years.
Whether it’s your stomach, upper arms, or love handles, we all know what it feels like to wish there was a way to target ONLY that spot.
Well, there just might be.
Spot reduction is the idea that it is possible to isolate fat loss to one specific area of the body such as the belly or arms.
Once thought a myth, some studies are suggesting that spot reduction might be possible if you know how to modify your training, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Let’s review some simple changes you can make along with fitness gear and supplements that can help to target fat loss.
How to Spot Reduce Fat
Is there a secret exercise or magic supplement you should take to spot reduce fat?
Sorry to break it to you but there’s not one miracle trick to targeting fat loss.
However, there are several things that you can change starting today to encourage fat loss in specific areas, and it all starts with nutrition.
Nutrition and Targeted Fat Loss
It’s not the sexiest part of fitness but being mindful of your caloric intake is essential to spot reducing fat.
We highly recommend chatting with a licensed nutritionist or using our Calorie Calculator to discover your ideal caloric range. From there, a nutritionist or coach at Faster can help customize a meal plan that works for you.
Another alternative is calorie-counting apps such as MyFitnessPal that provide you with a daily caloric range based on your current activity level and goals. These apps are easy to use, quick to update, and helpful for watching your daily intake.
GET SMART ABOUT CARBS:
When you hear the word “carbs,” what do you immediately think of?
If you’re like most, you’ll imagine potatoes, salty snack foods, and sugar. But did you know that healthy vegetables such as broccoli are a form of carbohydrate?
Consider swapping some calorie dense carbs such as white rice and potatoes for cruciferous veggies like broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower.
You’ll see a dramatic drop in your caloric intake, and you’ll get a much-needed boost of the mineral, zinc.
HORMONES CAN HELP OR HURT:
Hormones dictate where the fat is stored, so it’s important to have your hormone health in mind when making different nutritional choices.
Aside from avoiding processed sugars and getting enough sleep, you can support your hormone health by being mindful during meal prep. Use glass containers and avoid plastics as they contain chemicals that leech into your food and disrupt your hormones.
Also, avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake as this can increase cortisol levels and promote fat storage.
SUPPLEMENTS CAN HELP:
After nutrition, training and sleep, supplements are one of the more impactful things that you can add to help spot fat loss. Fat loss supplements are very effective, and some target specific hormones that influence body fat storage in certain areas.
For example, supplements (and other modifications) that lower cortisol can contribute to a reduction in fat in your belly and love handles. Supplements that improve sleep such as melatonin and magnesium are one general example, but there are specific supplements such as Relora that have been proven to lower cortisol up to 37% as one example.
We suggest asking your coach or health care professional for more advice for specific supplements.
Exercise and Spot Reducing Fat
There are two things to focus on for your training to promote spot reduction: intensity and blood flow.
You’ll want to start doing more workouts that are intense such as high-intensity interval training, fast-paced cardio workouts or spin class.
You’ll also want to start adopting fitness habits that promote better blood flow. Thankfully, these two things can go hand in hand as intensity can increase blood flow.
There is a link between increased blood flow and spot reduction.
Think of blood flow as a superhighway that carries nutrients, oxygen, waste, etc. to where it needs to go in the body.
If there’s a traffic jam, nothing moves. Adipose tissue – fatty tissue – is that traffic jam, preventing things from moving. Studies show that blood flow is notoriously weak in adipose tissue.
Another substance that is carried on that superhighway is fatty acid. When you burn fatty acids for fuel, they are carried out via blood flow. But adipose tissue prevents fatty acids from being broken down and utilized as fuel. Even worse, the more fat that an area has, the worse the blood flow.
Thankfully, there are ways to increase blood flow to an area, thereby making it possible to spot reduce.
To effectively increase blood flow to an area with a lot of adipose tissue, you’ll want to increase the temperature of that area.
You can increase blood flow in several ways:
The best exercises to target belly fat are often bodyweight-based and typically used in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. We highly recommend HIIT workouts with a focus on exercises that target your problem area.
For example, if the majority of the adipose tissue is on your belly, you would perform a core focused HIIT workout.
Don’t have a workout plan? We have you covered!
Our world class group personal training program provides HIIT workout that will help you lose body fat, while improving strength and endurance, and energy. Click here to learn more.
Hot yoga has two special benefits for spotting fat loss:
First, you’re in an elevated temperature room, which is usually between 90- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 37 degrees Celsius).
Second, you are performing 90 minutes of yoga. In a hot room, this is going to feel a lot more intense than it normally would.
The great thing about hot yoga – or any yoga for that matter – is that it’s a total body workout, allowing you to increase blood flow while targeting all of your problem areas.
As an alternative, running, or performing some of your workouts outside in warm weather can provide comparable benefits.
WILD IDEAS: HIT THE SAUNA BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT AND THERMOGENIC BELTS:
Saunas are for more than relaxation at your nearby spa, they can also promote short-term and long-term weight loss.
One of the best ways to spot reduce is to go into a sauna before you exercise. Studies suggest that just 10 to 15 minutes in a sauna followed by a workout can effectively increase blood flow and promote a higher level of calorie burning.
Continuing with the point above, consider 10 minutes in a sauna followed by a workout that specifically targets your problem areas.
Another unique idea is wearing a thermogenic belt during your workout. It has been shown to effectively increase blood flow in studies.
Lifestyle Changes To Make For Spot Reduction
This is the MOST important lifestyle change you can make. Poor sleeping habits have been shown in numerous studies to increase weight gain, especially in problematic areas.
Bad sleep can also disrupt healthy hormone production.
Experts agree that it’s important to sleep between 7 to 9 hours each night. The more active you are, the more sleep you tend to need.
If you’re not getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, it will lead to a hormonal tidal wave that increases cortisol and appetite while negatively affecting carb tolerance and many other hormones that will make it feel like your metabolism is fighting you.
Meditation is a deliberate focus on your breathing to reduce stress and anxiety, and promote better sleep.
Studies show that meditation can dramatically reduce the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol. It’s also been suggested as a complementary form of therapy for people who have depression and severe anxiety.
There are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch along with several popular apps that are completely free.
We suggest starting with just a few minutes. Sit down in a quiet room, take in a few deep breaths then close your eyes. Focus on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath only. Try counting each breath to a count of 10, then begin again.
While it might not directly contribute to fat loss, proper posture is important for avoiding muscle and joint strain and ensuring you can get to the gym to exercise.
Proper alignment also allow your body to function properly. Maintaining proper posture and mobility will compound the benefits of every workout into more calories burned every day and ultimately getting the fit physique that many people desire.
Besides keeping mobility in your program regularly, small daily actions such as remembering to keep your shoulders back and chest up goes a long way. We recommend checking in with yourself throughout the day to make sure your posture is good.
Create a Plan for Yourself
You’ve taken notes and you’re ready to go, but it is absolutely essential that you make a plan for how and when you’ll implement these changes.
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
Sit down and make sure you know when you’ll have time to make these changes. Make a schedule, mark it in your calendar, and put some Post-It notes on your fridge.
We would love the opportunity to help you reach your fitness goals.
Our Group Personal Training program utilizes the best fat-burning exercises that help you get lean and athletic.
We also provide meal plans, nutrition coaching and provide accountability to help you get Faster Results.
Click here to learn more.
- Frayn KN. Regulation of fatty acid delivery in vivo. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;441:171-9. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4899-1928-1_16. PMID: 9781324.
- Stallknecht B, Dela F, Helge JW. Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans? Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb;292(2):E394-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00215.2006. Epub 2006 Sep 19. PMID: 16985258.