FITNESS

The Best Way to Target Body Fat

Tighten, tone, and keep it off

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By Maddy Barney

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Body fat is a fickle tissue that just never seems to leave. Belly fat, leg fat, arm fat… It’s everywhere! One of the most frequent questions posed to those who work in the fitness industry is how to go about losing it or how to target specific problem areas. Before we get into that, we need to discuss the importance of fat in our bodies. It may surprise you to learn that our bodies need fat to live. Yes, that’s right! You’d die without any body fat.

Fat is the primary energy source for your body during rest and normal daily activities, so it’s important to fuel your body with healthy fat sources. Fat provides insulation to keep us warm during colder temperatures, and keeps us cooler during hotter seasons. It also absorbs important nutrients and creates crucial hormones. Without fat, our bodies wouldn’t be able to function or provide energy. What’s more, fat is stored everywhere. Firstly, there’s the obvious fat that sits closer to the surface. There’s also a sheet of fat that sits on top of your organs to protect them, called the omentum, and even intramuscular fat; pods of fat that are quick energy sources the body can utilize when needed. Our bodies need fat to survive, so how can we make sure we’re incorporating the right types of fat into our diet?

Eating high amounts of trans and saturated fats can raise your cholesterol and may lead to heart disease, so it’s much better for your overall health if you stick to the unsaturated kind. You can find healthy, unsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish, as well as a range of other sources.

These fats are excellent in lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, and lowering inflammation. However, remember that everything should be eaten in moderation. Eating fats won’t make you gain fat, but consuming too much will result in weight gain, as with any food. You should aim to eat approximately 20-30% of your daily caloric intake as healthy, unsaturated fats.

So, back to the burning question: how do we lose fat? The answer is simple. A combination of a healthy diet and cardiovascular exercise is the best place to start. In terms of cardio, beginners should aim for three sessions a week and try to focus on the Fat Burning Zone. If you feel like you’re ready for more, add another day or two! Over on the diet side of things, you want to focus on your caloric and nutrient intake. Nutrient-dense foods are the way to go here, which include things like fruits, vegetables, eggs, chicken, fish, nuts, rice, and potatoes. You should avoid junk foods like chocolate, candy, ice cream, and potato chips, but we all know it’s hard to cut out the treats completely. What fun would that be?! As long as you remember to eat everything in moderation, one cookie won’t affect your weight loss goal too much. However, eating that entire pack of cookies is probably not the best idea.

A good way to balance your diet is to keep 70% of your daily foods as nutrient dense produce, and 30% as whatever you want. You don’t want to think of your weight loss as a diet, but more of a sustainable and maintainable lifestyle. Cutting out the treats entirely might trigger you to binge on the unhealthy snacks and undo everything you’ve worked so hard on.

As we’ve said, consuming everything in moderation will allow you to enjoy the foods you want while still seeing the weight loss you crave.

Now you’ve learned how important fat is to our bodies and the best way to lose it, you’ll want to know how to target those specific areas. Unfortunately, when it comes to losing fat, we can never choose where to lose it. No matter what, everyone drops the pounds in different ways. For example, some people might find that their back and arms lean out first, followed by the legs, and the stomach fat last, even though we might want it to occur the opposite way. Sadly, we can’t target specific areas for fat loss, but you can help them look a bit more toned. Targeting these areas in your workouts will help the muscle development and tighten up the desired areas. For example, if you’re looking to tighten that tummy, try some ab workouts. If you’re after toned legs, have a go at some squats. A lot of work goes into fat loss, and you’re much more likely to reach your goal with a consistent, balanced program.

Maddy has worked in the health and fitness industry for 5 years. She has a bachelors in Exercise Science and has recently received her Masters in Exercise Physiology. She has worked with a wide demographic of clients as a Personal Trainer and loves helping people reach their goals and continue to grow.  She is an outdoor enthusiast and dedicates her workouts to rock climbing, hiking and whatever new experiences may come her way.

Main Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Alexander Prokopenko/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock.com