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What Parts of the Body Lose Fat First?

author image Morgan Rush
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.
What Parts of the Body Lose Fat First?
A mature man is running on a wooded trail. Photo Credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

People tend to carry fat differently in their bodies; you might notice heavier jowls in some, or a pudgy muffin-top creeping over the waistband. You might prefer to smooth your stomach or trim your thighs, but it’s not possible to isolate body regions for weight reduction. You might first lose weight in your arms, breasts or hips -- it all comes down to genetics. Losing fat throughout your body, though, will help reduce fat in any area you’re targeting.

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Why You Can’t Spot Reduce

Targeted fat loss doesn’t work because of the way fat cells are composed, according to Yale Scientific Magazine. In order to function, muscles rely on substances called triglycerides. These exist within your body’s fat cells, but muscles can’t use them as they are Instead, triglycerides convert into glycerol and free fatty acids, which enter your blood stream and become fuel for muscles. Your body could draw on triglycerides from anywhere within the body for fuel; it’s not possible to decide which body fat stores will be tapped first.

White Fat, Brown Fat

Not all fat cells are created equal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that your body contains two types of fat: white and brown fat cells. Brown fat cells, typically stored in your body’s neck and shoulder regions, are a “good” type of fat that are often associated with lower body weight. High levels of white fat cells are associated with health problems including heart disease and diabetes.

Burning Visceral Fat

Visceral fat lodges itself between your internal organs, and can be the cause of health problems. By contrast, subcutaneous fat -- the kind that you’re able to pinch at your body’s pudgier sections -- does not necessarily lead to major health problems. Visceral fat can secrete a substance promoting insulin resistance, leading to diabetes, according to the UT Southwestern Medical Center. To burn visceral fat, combine aerobic exercise with weight lifting, consume fewer carbohydrates and aim for adequate amounts of sleep each night.

Fat Loss and Body Size

Your body may lose fat differently depending on your size, according to the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. When you lose weight, your body burns through both fat and lean tissue, but the proportion might differ depending on your body composition. Thinner people may experience more lean mass loss compared to fat mass loss after exercising; obese individuals will burn through more fat mass.

Fat Burning Strategies

Reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories daily for seven days will result in 1 pound of fat tissue loss per week, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most adults need about 2,000 calories per day. You’ll need to maintain current levels of physical activity, or even increase physical activity, to start burning through fat reserves.

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