Can You Target Fat Loss?: Busting the Myths and Revealing the Facts

Category: Medical FAQ


Posted on December 30, 2022

Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.

can you target fat loss

Almost three-quarters of adults over the age of 20 (73.6%) in the United States today are overweight or obese, highlighting the size of this health epidemic. Worryingly, 22% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years and 20% of children aged between 6 to 11 years are obese. 

There are many reasons why people seek to get rid of excess fat, including health, lifestyle, and self-esteem reasons. Fat can be stubborn, however, especially in certain areas of the body, such as the stomach.

One of the most common questions that people ask when working out is "Can you target fat loss?" In this blog post, we will bust the myths and reveal the facts surrounding fat weight and working out. Let's get started with this fat loss tips and myths.

Can You Target Fat Loss?

We all have parts of our bodies that we would like to change. Many of us have excess fat around our waistline and on our thighs, arms, and buttocks. That's why many people try to focus their exercising efforts on one specific part of the body, in the hope of achieving targeted fat loss. 

The simple answer to this question, however, is that targeted fat loss, also known as spot reduction, is a myth. The reality is that there is very little, if any, evidence to support this theory.

Targeted fat loss is often promoted as a quick and easy way to reduce fat in problematic areas. Many studies have looked at this theory and shown it to be ineffective. Rather, generalized fat loss occurs when a person exercises, even if they focus on one specific area.

For example, one study looked at the effectiveness of upper body resistance training, where participants completed a 12-week training program that exercised only their non-dominant arms. While fat loss did occur, it was not specific to the arm being exercised; rather it was generalized to the entire body. Therefore, we can conclude fat loss targeting does not work.

Are All Calories Created Equal?

A calorie is simply a measurement of energy and all calories have the same energy content. However, it's important to note that not all calorie sources will have the same effects on a person's weight.

Different foods can have vastly different effects on hunger as well as the hormones that regular a person's body weight because they go through different metabolic pathways.

As you already likely know, a protein calorie is not the same as a carb or fat calorie. By swapping out fats and carbs with protein, a person can boost their metabolism while also reducing cravings and appetite. Protein calories also improve the function of weight-regulating hormones.

So, if you are planning to lose weight, it's beneficial to put an increased focus on protein calories. Many people consume protein shakes in order to increase their daily intake.

Do Carbs Make You Fat?

While we have just discovered that not all calorie sources are equal, it's important to understand the role of carbs, even when it comes to weight loss. We know that a low-carb diet helps to aid weight loss. But it still doesn't mean that all carbs are bad. 

The reality is that whole, single-ingredient carb-based foods are incredibly healthy. Some healthy options here include sweet potatoes, bananas, quinoa, oats, beets, and buckwheat.

That said, you should aim to avoid refined carbs, such as refined grains, given that these are linked to weight gain. It is said that abs are made in the kitchen, rather than the gym. While working out is absolutely important, the choices that you make in the kitchen are also essential to realizing weight loss.

Does Fat Make You Fat?

Here's a question that you might quickly answer "yes" to. Certainly, fat is very calorie-dense, with around 9 calories per gram. This is compared to around 4 calories per gram of protein or carbs.

Still, it's important to highlight that as long as a person keeps their calorie intake within a healthy range, fat will not make them fat. In fact, there are a number of studies that indicate diets that are low in carbs but high in fat can result in weight loss.

The finger is often pointed at fat when we look for something to blame for the obesity epidemic. Sure, junk foods that are laden with calories and fat will make a person fat. But fat is not the only culprit and is still essential for the body to function properly.

Is Weight Loss a Linear Process?

It's easy to assume that weight loss works in a straight line, that we constantly and steadily lose weight day after day and week after week. However, it doesn't work like that. 

The reality is that while a person may lose weight across some days and weeks, across others they may actually gain a little bit of weight. This is normal and not a cause for concern, given that it is entirely normal for body weight to fluctuate.

Weight fluctuations are most pronounced in women. This is largely due to how water weight fluctuates during the menstrual cycle. Over time, however, you should notice a downward trend in weight if you are eating right and working out regularly.

Busting Myths Around Fat and Weight Loss

While we all want to know how to lose fat, it is easy to fall into the trap of certain myths, including the one that says you can spot reduce fat on a particular part of the body. As we have seen when answering the question, "Can you target fat loss?", the answer is no.

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