If you're looking for lean, toned thighs and hips, making some modifications to your diet and exercise routine can help. And while spot reduction -- losing fat from one part of your body, like your thighs or hips -- is a myth, reducing your overall body fat percentage will help you look slimmer. Pair fat-burning foods with workouts that target your hips and thighs for a more toned appearance.
Eat Low-Calorie Fruits and Veggies
Veggies and fruits are your best friend for fat loss. They're very low in calories, so you can eat relatively large portions without making much of a dent in your calorie intake. That's great for helping you feel satisfied while you lose weight, since you'll need to eat fewer calories than you burn. Filling low-cal foods like vegetables can keep you from feeling deprived. Fruits and vegetables are also directly linked to weight loss, according to a study published in Obesity Facts in 2011. The study authors looked at the diet habits of more than 400,000 Americans to find connections between fruit and veggie intake and weight. They found that people who eat the most fruits and veggies were most likely to have a healthy weight, even after accounting for other factors that can influence weight, like physical activity.
Eat a green salad drizzled with a teaspoon of olive oil before your dinner to help you feel satisfied on fewer calories. Add sauteed vegetables to soups, pastas and casseroles. Lunch on vegetable soup or snack on an apple or carrot sticks to feel full between meals.
Lean Protein for a Fat-Burning Metabolism
Adding more protein helps you naturally eat less food, which makes it easier to burn body fat and tone your thighs and hips. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that people following higher-protein diets burn more calories throughout the day and reported feeling more satiated after meals than people on lower-protein diets. The study also found that people on high-protein diets retain lean muscle mass as they lose weight. That's essential for getting the toned thighs and hips you want; as you lose fat, those muscles will become more visible, giving you a leaner look.
Make sure you're eating the right proteins for weight loss -- ones that are low in unhealthy saturated fat. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends limiting red meat, as many cuts tend to be fatty. Instead, go for skinless turkey or chicken breast, eggs, beans, fish and low-fat dairy products such as Greek yogurt for quality protein. Nuts provide protein, too, along with a dose of healthy fats.
Reach for Fiber-Rich Fare
Boost your fiber intake, and burn more fat. That's the takeaway message of a 2015 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The study found that just one dietary change -- eating more fiber -- was enough to cause significant weight loss. And if you're looking for the most benefits, pair fiber with protein. A study published in Nutrition Journal in 2011 found that people lost more fat on a high-protein, high-fiber diet than they did on a high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet.
Use especially fibrous fruits and vegetables -- like leafy greens, peppers, apples, pears, raspberries and blackberries -- to boost your fiber intake, and combine vegetables with lean proteins for high-fiber, high-protein meals. Try serving grilled salmon with steamed spinach and baby kale, add chunks of grilled chicken to an arugula salad, or add a handful of black beans to your vegetable soup. You can also get fiber from whole grains, like quinoa, oatmeal and whole-wheat pasta and bread. Just eat grains in moderation if you're following a lower-carbohydrate diet, since they also contain lots of starch.
Workouts to Reduce the Look of Hip and Thigh Fat
While the calorie deficit you create through your diet will help you lose fat all over your body, your workouts can specifically target your hips and thighs to help them look more toned. If your doctor gives the go-ahead for intense exercise, do cardio workouts that challenge your leg and hip muscles -- like sprints, box jumps and lateral skater jumps -- to burn fat while you tone your lower body. Incorporate strength training workouts into your routine two to three times per week, and include squats and lunges, which target several muscles in your hips and thighs. Avoid boredom by incorporating different variations of these exercises -- plie squats, for example, can target your inner thighs, while side lunges shape your outer thighs and butt.