Thick thighs can make it difficult to find pants that fit, and they can create uncomfortable rubbing when you wear shorts or a mini skirt. You may want your thick thighs to slim down, but it's impossible to target specific body parts for isolated weight loss. Certain exercises may help you create shapelier, toned thighs, but this muscle forms beneath the overlying fat. You have to target all your body fat with a reduced-calorie diet that emphasizes healthy foods, in addition to exercise for you to lose weight all over -- including your thighs.
How You Lose Weight
How your weight is distributed is genetic and is dictated by your body shape. Losing weight shrinks your entire body, but it doesn't change your proportions. If you have heavy thighs in relation to the rest of your frame, the actual size of your thighs may shrink as you lose weight, but so will other parts of your body.
Exercising a certain area doesn't cause weight loss in that area. A study in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that participants who performed up to 1,000 repetitions of leg presses on a nondominant leg three times per week for 12 weeks experienced no change in fat on the legs. They did lose upper-body fat as a result of the exercise, though.
You can't reduce fat in a specific area by exercising it because the muscle cells activated there don't use triglycerides -- which is the type of fat in fat cells -- for fuel. The body must undertake a metabolic process that turns the triglycerides into glycerol and free fatty acids, which then enter the bloodstream and are used as fuel. When you exercise a certain area, the energy required to do that exercise comes from fat cells all over your body that have been broken down into glycerol.
Comprehensive Weight Loss
A low-calorie diet helps you use more fat for fuel, so you get slimmer all over -- even in your thighs. To lose a pound, you must create a deficit of 3,500 calories between what you consume and what you burn. Make that deficit equal 500 or 1,000 calories per day, and you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
You may want your thighs to shrink more quickly, but faster weight loss results in greater water loss and in greater muscle loss -- rather than in fat loss. It can also bring your metabolism to a grinding halt, making weight loss more difficult. Faster weight loss isn't guaranteed to reduce your thighs, as speeding up the process doesn't change your body's general shape and weight distribution.
Meal Plan for Quick Fat Loss
Your daily calorie needs depends on your activity level, size, age and gender. An online calculator or a dietitian can help you figure it out. Once you know how many calories you need, reduce your intake by 500 to 1,000 calories -- but don't dip below 1,200 per day, or you risk extreme deprivation and nutritional deficiency.
To stick to your weight-loss calorie goal, eliminate foods that have minimal nutritional value such as sugary treats, sweetened drinks, saturated fats and refined grains. Instead, meals should contain a lean protein, fresh vegetables and a small serving of whole grains. Focus on fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt or cheese and cut-up vegetables as snacks. Measure your portions to get an accurate estimate of your daily calorie intake to sure you're meeting your goal.
Exercise to Slim Your Thighs, and More
Squats, lunges, step ups and jumps build muscle in your legs, which can create a shapelier appearance in your thighs when you lose the fat. These moves can actually help you lose fat overall, too, when they're included as part of a comprehensive strength-training plan. You should also train all of the major muscle groups, which also include the chest, back, hips, arms, shoulders and abs. Your goal is to build more muscle throughout your body. Muscle requires more energy to maintain, so it helps raise your overall metabolism and fat-burning capacity.
Cardiovascular exercise increases your daily calorie burn so you can create a larger daily deficit and lose weight faster. The American College of Sports Medicine explains that 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise can help you maintain your weight, but if you want to lose significant weight, aim for 250 minutes or more per week. Options include brisk walking, dance fitness, pedaling a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer and jogging.
- CNN: When You Lose Weight, Where Does the Fat Go?
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Regional Fat Changes Induced By Localized Muscle Endurance Resistance Training
- National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths
- Go Ask Alice: Ideal Calorie Intake
- Yale Scientific: Targeted Fat Loss: Myth or Reality?
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss