Targeting Fat Loss: Myth or Reality?

Meagan SwansonGetting Toned, Lifting Weights, Losing Fat, Working OutLeave a Comment

Tell me if any of these sound familiar:

You put on a tank top and notice that your arms are looking a little fluffy, so you instantly think “I need to tone my arms.”

You throw on some jeans and you notice that they’re not buttoning as easily, so you start to wonder “How can I lose my belly pouch?”

You put on a swimsuit and notice your thighs are a bit bigger in proportion to the rest of your body, so you start Googling “How to lose fat on my thighs”

–     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –

We’ve all been there. Seriously, check my Google history, I bet you’ll find it. (Just kidding, don’t, because you’ll find tons of other weird shit too… I have a curious mind).

So what’s my answer to the age old question “can you target fat loss?”
No. Well, not exactly. Let me explain…

Let’s get scientific for a second. When you work out, your body uses the glucose (sugar) in your liver for energy.  When your liver runs out of glucose, it begins to use your stored fat for energy. At this point, your body reaches ketosis, which means is uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates (glucose, sugar, whatever you want to call it).

These fat cells release triglycerides into your blood stream. Your liver then snags these triglycerides, turns them into glucose, and ta-da: more energy. So now that your body is using your stored fat for energy and your fat cells are shrinking, your fatty tissue shrinks which allows for your hidden muscle to make an appearance.

Okay, schools over, but here’s the take-away:

When your body begins to use your stored fat, it pulls that fat from everywhere – not just the body part that you are working. You cannot “spot reduce” when your body has a certain amount of total body fat that is supplying energy in this state of ketosis.


**Disclaimer: depending on your body type and your genetics, you may lose fat easier in certain areas compared to others. For example, if big thighs run in your family, you will most likely lose fat in your arms and stomach before you lose  fat in your thighs. That is normal and expected, but it is not “spot reduction”… it’s science.**


As far as the “not exactly” part of my answer… there is a bit of an exception.

Once a person, male or female, reaches a certain amount of body fat (let’s say around 18% for women and 12% for men), you can do different workouts to target your more stubborn fatty areas.

At these body fat percentages, a person is already fit, they have good muscle tone, and they’ve been training regularly for quite some time. If a person is looking to have bigger glutes, more toned legs, a better 6-pack, etc., they may be able to focus on a certain body part by working that body part more regularly than the rest… But that’s for a different post.



If you want to lose fat anywhere in your body, you need to:

  1. Be patient, because it takes time.
  2. Eat Right
  3. Do total body workouts – a combination of weightlifting and cardio. I can promise you that doing 500 sit ups everyday isn’t going to generate a 6 pack until you’ve reduced your total amount of body fat… And besides, who wants to do 500 sit-ups anyway.


Until Next Time — Meagan