In an informal 2011 Glamour magazine survey of more than 300 women, 97 percent of the respondents revealed that they disliked some part of their body. The thighs emerged as one of the most-hated areas. Weight loss can help you reduce your overall body size, but you can't directly choose your thighs and glutes as the areas you'd like to shrink. Where you lose weight is based on genetics and shape -- not on directed exercise or on eating certain foods.
When you adopt a healthier eating plan with modest portions and engage in more exercise, you will lose weight proportionally, so your entire body gets smaller -- including your thighs and glutes. However, because the fat on your thighs and glutes is stubborn, it may take longer than a month to achieve noticeable, lasting results.
Spot Training Is Futile
Magazines and fitness gadgets promise that if you squat, lunge and use their products, you'll get thinner thighs and a shapely booty. Unfortunately, you simply cannot use exercise to specifically target the fat on your thighs and glutes. A study published in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that participants who repeatedly exercised their non-dominant leg three times per week for 12 weeks experienced overall body fat reduction, but had no change in the worked leg.
Even if you leg lift until you feel the burn, your thigh fat isn't melting away. Fat reduces when you burn more energy than you consume.
Comprehensive Weight Loss
To lose a pound of fat, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you eat and drink. Making this difference equal to 500 to 1,000 calories per day leads to a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, which is a sustainable, manageable rate. This means that in one month, you can expect to lose 4 to 8 pounds. Depending on your size, this may -- or may not -- be enough to see a dramatic change in the size of your glutes and thighs. Attempting to lose weight more quickly in a month through fad diets or supplements will potentially create nutritional deficiencies, extreme deprivation that's impossible to maintain, as well as muscle loss. Weight lost quickly is also more likely to be regained.
Thigh and glute fat tends to be the subcutaneous fat -- meaning that this fat sits right beneath the skin. This type of fat is difficult to lose, especially when located on the thighs and buttocks of women. Women's hormones drive fat to this region to support childbirth and breast feeding.
Effective Exercise to Reduce Fat
Embark on a comprehensive training program that involves strength-training your biggest muscles -- which include your thighs and glutes -- via squats and lunges, and also your upper body, with presses, pushups and pullups. Training more muscle means you'll build a body that has a greater amount of muscle, which burns more calories at rest that a body that has a greater proportion of fat.
Cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, swimming or dance fitness, also helps you burn more energy, so you will help your thighs and glutes -- as well as the rest of your body -- burn fat. Perform interval training for a few of your cardiovascular sessions per week. A paper in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity demonstrates that this form of cardio, which involves alternating short periods of very intense work with rest, burns fat better than always doing your workout at a moderate pace.
Eat to Reduce Your Thighs and Glutes
Consuming fewer calories contributes to weight loss because you're making it easier for your body to burn more energy than you take in. The exact number of calories that will help you lose weight depends on your size, activity level, gender and age. But, if you reduce your portions and focus on healthy food choices, it will complement your exercise strategies. You shouldn't eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day or risk slowing your metabolism and cheating yourself of important nutrients.
Fiber-rich foods that have few calories, such as watery vegetables, help fill you up so that trimming calories is easier; include a serving or two at every meal. Protein also helps you feel full, and a higher intake -- about 0.5 grams per pound of body weight per day -- helps with weight loss, reports a review published in a 2012 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition. Make sure the protein comes from lean sources such as white-meat poultry, tofu, white fish and eggs. Round out a sensible diet plan with small servings of whole grains, low-fat dairy and healthy unsaturated fats, such as an ounce of nuts or an eighth of an avocado.
- Glamour: Shocking Body-Image News: 97% of Women Will Be Cruel to Their Bodies Today
- CNN: When You're Losing Weight, Where Does the Fat Go?
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Regional Fat Changes Induced By Localized Muscle Endurance Resistance Training
- American Council on Exercise: Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- Go Ask Alice: Ideal Caloric Intake
- British Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health
- Scientific American: Why Does Fat Deposit on the Hips and Thighs of Women and Around the Stomachs of Men?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight