You might long for a lean and toned lower body, but you can't selectively lose weight from your hips, thighs and buttocks; instead, you'll lose pounds from your entire body. Losing body fat requires that you burn more calories than you eat each day, which creates a caloric "deficit" and makes your body burn fat to make up the difference. Pair a calorie-controlled diet with an exercise routine that targets your lower body to get the physique you want.
Cut Your Calorie Intake to Lose Fat
To lose weight, you'll need to cut your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit. An online calculator or a nutrition professional can help you estimate how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight. For long-lasting weight loss, reduce your calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily. That translates to losing an average of 1 to 2 pounds of fat each week -- a safe and recommended rate of weight loss, according to the University of Michigan Medical Center.
Don't dip below 1,200 calories daily for women or 1,800 calories daily for men, notes the McKinley Health Center. At such a low calorie intake, you risk not getting enough nutrients or going into "starvation mode," a state in which your body will resist burning fat. If your 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit takes you under these minimums, plan to cut fewer calories from your diet. You can either burn excess calories through exercise or simply plan to lose weight at a slower pace.
Choose Low Energy Density Foods for Weight Loss
Load up your plate with foods that have a low energy density -- that is, a low number of calories per gram -- like vegetables and fruits. These foods allow you to eat a relatively large portion size without significantly upping your calorie intake, and they can help you feel satisfied on the calorie-controlled diet needed for trimming down. Low energy-density foods also tend to be higher in fiber, which promotes weight loss.
In addition to fruits and veggies, round out your diet with other fiber-rich fare, like legumes, nuts and whole grains. Lean proteins also supply amino acids -- the building blocks of muscle tissue that gives you a lean and toned appearance -- and are also an essential part of a weight loss diet. Skinless white meat poultry, salmon, tuna, tofu and tempeh all offer lean protein.
Limit Foods Linked to Weight Gain
You'll also want to limit or avoid foods linked to overall weight gain, including the hips, thighs and buttocks areas. Consider cutting out potatoes -- whether you enjoy them mashed, baked, fried or in chip form. Potatoes and potato chips account for two of the top five foods linked to weight gain, according to a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Red meats and processed meats -- like bacon, deli meats and fast food burgers -- also topped the list of weight-gain triggers.
Avoid drinking your calories on a weight-loss diet. While sugary drinks can up your intake by hundreds of calories -- a single 12-ounce can of cream soda has 189 calories, for instance -- they're not as filling as regular food. Sugar-sweetened beverages are also closely linked to weight gain in the New England Journal of Medicine study.
While you don't need to cut your favorite foods out of your diet indefinitely -- you don't want to feel deprived and end up abandoning your weight loss goals -- eat them as an occasional treat, not an everyday indulgence.
Work Out to Tone Hips, Thighs and Buttocks
Pair your diet with an exercise program for optimal results. Increasing your activity level helps you burn more calories so you can more easily reach your 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit. Strength training also helps you hold on to muscle tissue as you lose weight -- which boosts your metabolism, since muscle tissue burns calories just to maintain itself -- and helps you build muscle to get the toned appearance you want.
Burn calories and tone your lower body with a strength-training program that includes squats, deadlifts and lunges -- plus variations, like Romanian deadlifts or side lunges, to hit your thigh, hip and butt muscles from different angles. Use heavier weights to help you build muscle on your lower body, or perform higher reps with lighter weights for a more cardio-focused strength workout. Other lower-body moves, like kettlebell swings and step-ups, also help you burn more calories as you tone your lower body. For a personalized program suited to your unique goals and current fitness level, consult a personal trainer.
- University of Michigan Health Service: Weight Reduction
- Penn State University: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Harvard School of Public Health: Changes in Specific Dietary Factors May Have Big Impact on Long-Term Weight Gain
- New England Journal of Medicine: Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men
- McKinley Health Center: Breaking Down Your Metabolism
- HealthAliciousNess: Nutrient Facts Comparison Tool