Those body fat spot-reduction schemes and routines don't work

By Haley Holmquist - Staff Reporter

Summer is just around the corner, and the prospect of being seen in a swimsuit has many people heading to the gym to begin new exercise routines and programs. 

So-called spot reduction is the foundation of many exercise programs, products and services in the fitness industry marketed to many of those aspiring new fitness enthusiasts. 

Spot reduction refers to the myth that training a certain area of the body with specific exercises for that area might selectively reduce fat stored there. 

This concept is commonly used to promote belly fat burning workouts, or those with the goal of creating slimmer thighs. However, one cannot lose fat in any one specific area through isolated training. 

Hundreds of crunches will not result in a diminished belly fat. 

Countless lunges will not lead to smaller thighs. 

The muscle may turn out stronger, but the fat will remain because localized fat loss is impossible to attain through exercise. 

Companies that use these claims to market themselves are prioritizing aesthetic appeal over education. 

Here the facts involved in fat loss and how to lose fat both effectively and healthfully:

The body has two types of fat, essential and stored. 

Essential fat is found in our organs and is necessary for them to function properly. 

Stored fat is located around our organs to protect from trauma. It is also stored under our skin as subcutaneous fat for energy reserves. 

Genetics and one's sex determine where most of an individual's subcutaneous fat is stored. 

Fat loss occurs through regular exercise and diet. 

Diet here doesn't mean restricting any foods, rather it refers to how you fuel yourself daily with food. 

You don't need to track calories. Instead, focus on eating more nutritionally-dense foods. 

Replace snacks such as chips or crackers with fruits and vegetables. Replace grains that are white (e.g. bread, rice) with whole grain items. 

Additionally, drinking water frequently throughout your day can assist with weight loss.  

Exercise is also key. 

When the body is involved in exercise, subcutaneous fat is used as fuel to keep moving. During exercise, blood flow is increased to and from the muscles. This allows the body to better metabolize fat into energy. 

Walking, jogging, swimming, or biking are all examples of exercise that may be effective in reducing body fat, especially when combined with a complete resistance training program. 

Resistance training helps build more lean muscle and increased muscle mass increases one's basal metabolic rate, which determines how many calories the body burns at rest.

Although you can't target fat loss in specific body areas with exercise, you can work on improving your diet. You can also add more cardiovascular and resistance training exercise to reduce body fat stores throughout your whole body.  

While reducing body fat may be a worthy fitness goal, remember to keep a focus on just becoming more active and healthy the rest of the year.

Haley Holmquist is a student in Highline's Personal Fitness Trainer program.

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