The weight loss myth we've ALL been fooled by: Renowned obesity scientist and ... trends now
It's one of the most common weight loss requests.
But targeting fat loss from specific areas of the body may not actually work after all.
Ads for exercises, pills and supplements often claim they will blitz fat in one part of the body — known as 'spot reduction' — usually the belly.
It is, however, 'simply not possible to target the location of fat loss', a leading weight loss expert has claimed.
Dr Nick Fuller, an author and senior lecturer in the treatment and management of obesity at the University of Sydney, labelled targeted fat-loss a 'myth'.
Instead, factors out of our control — such as genes, gender and age — as well as how much fat and muscle a person has, dictates the areas and order in which our bodies store and lose fat.
Dr Nick Fuller (pictured), an author and senior lecturer in the treatment and management of obesity at the University of Sydney , said factors outside of our control influence the areas and order in which our bodies store and lose fat
Studies have also shown genes can account for up to 60 per cent of where body fat is distributed, Dr Fuller argued. Gender and age may also play a role, with changes to muscle mass, metabolism and hormone levels impacted by the ageing process. 'Women tend to lose weight from their face, calves and arms first because they impact childbearing the least, while holding onto fat stored around the hips, thighs and buttocks,' he added
Writing in The Conversation, he added: 'Our muscles can't directly access and burn specific fat stores when we exercise.'
Instead, they use a process called lipolysis to convert triglycerides — harmful fats in the blood — into free fatty acids and a compound called glycerol, 'which then travels to our muscles via our bloodstream'.
'As a result, the fat stores we're using for energy when we exercise come from everywhere in our bodies – not just the areas we're targeting for fat loss,' he said.
Additionally, research suggests working out specific muscles has little impact on reducing fat in that area.
One 2015 study of 45 women who followed a weight-loss diet found that those who also performed abdominal exercises saw no greater improvement in reducing belly fat compared to those who only dieted. The researchers in Iran concluded 'there were no significant differences between the groups'.
Studies show that genes, gender and age all influence where people put on and lose fat as their weight fluctuates.
Genes can account for up to 60 per cent of where body fat is distributed, meaning that where a person's parents store fat is often a marker of where they will as well, Dr Fuller said.
Gender also plays a role. For example, women store more fat than men — to support pregnancy and breastfeeding — and tend to lose weight from their face,