Where a woman's weight loss first becomes noticeable really depends on her genes. Many women hang on to weight in the hips and thighs, while others are more likely to have a larger midsection. Weight loss affects everyone's physical appearance slightly differently, but even small losses of 5 to 10 percent can improve your health if you have overweight or obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that this small amount of loss can lead to improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars -- regardless of where you lose it.
Recent Weight Gain is Lost First
Weight loss occurs first in the area where you most recently gained it. For example, if your breasts have enlarged and become heavier, you'll likely notice this area shrink in the initial weeks of losing weight. If your belly expands readily when you gain pounds, then this area will likely thin out first when you make a concerted effort to reduce your food intake and exercise more.
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As you lose weight, you'll also slim down in a way that's proportional for your body type. If you have a pear-shaped frame, you'll keep that general build, just in a smaller size. Weight loss also doesn't make fat cells disappear; it simply shrinks the individual cells, according to Susan Fried, director of the Boston Obesity and Nutrition Research Center at the Boston University School of Medicine. You may find these fat cells shrink in your breasts or belly first, but they always have the capacity to re-expand if you increase your caloric intake and gain weight.
Women Hold Onto Hip Weight
Women tend to have more generous hips, buttocks and thighs than men, which help support pregnancy and childbirth. These areas also contain a greater number of fat cells, with each cell larger than those in many other regions of the body, explains Patrick J. Bird, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida, in a 2006 issue of "Scientific American." Fat accumulates in these areas during the teen years as hormone levels change, and by age 25, women of healthy weight have about twice the body fat of men. The hips and buttocks are also the area where it's usually hardest for women to lose weight, and they could remain stubbornly in place as the number on the scale drops. This may be because other areas, such as the face, belly, calves and arms, play a less essential role in childbearing, and these areas slim down first.
Spot Training Doesn't Work
If you want a perfectly sculpted rear or a washboard stomach, you might work out endlessly in an attempt to achieve it. While exercises for particular parts of your body can sculpt muscles in those areas, they cannot reduce fat in the region. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research had participants work their leg muscles with leg presses regularly and repetitively for 12 weeks. Despite the targeted exercise, they only lost fat mass in the upper body, not in the exercised legs.
The American Council on Exercise points out that spot-training exercise not only fails to achieve targeted weight loss, but also neglects strengthening the entire body and limits the amount of lean muscle mass created. Lean muscle mass is valuable because it boosts your metabolism and leads to a healthier overall appearance. It's best to follow an exercise regimen that strengthens your entire body.
Use Effective Weight Loss Strategies
Expedite weight loss by trimming your calorie intake and increasing physical activity. This creates a calorie deficit that produces a loss of 1 pound when it reaches 3,500. A healthy deficit is 500 to 1,000 calories per day to yield 1 to 2 pounds of weight lost per week. Avoid crash diets and focus on consuming modest portions of quality foods such as lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy to see results. For best results, set healthy goals that include improving your energy and reducing your risk of developing chronic disease, focusing less on losing weight from specific areas. Discuss your weight goals with your doctor or a dietitian, who can best help you develop a healthy eating plan.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- CNN: Can You Really Control Where You Lose Fat?
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Regional Fat Changes Induced by Localized Muscle Endurance Resistance Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Scientific American: Why Does Fat Deposit on the Hips and Thighs of Women and Around the Stomachs of Men?
- CNN: When You're Losing Weight, Where Does the Fat Go?