If you're a woman, your body may be predisposed to storing body fat around the hips and thighs, but men can store excess fat here too. No matter your gender, there is no "magic" food to reduce thighs and hips or any other single body part. The idea that you can lose fat from just one area of your body is a myth. But a healthy diet that focuses on whole fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats can do a lot to help reduce excess fat all over your body, including your hips and thighs.
While there is no single "magic food" to reduce fat on your hips and thighs, a diet that focuses on nutrient-rich, minimally processed foods will help you lose excess fat from all over your body, including your hips and thighs. Increasing your level of physical activity also helps you lose weight and keep it off.
Check Your Calorie Intake
Before tackling a new "hip fat loss diet," it's helpful to set a ballpark calorie goal for yourself. Believe it or not, the key to losing excess body fat is not reducing your diet to starvation levels. In fact, that tactic can backfire because even if it gives you a dramatic weight loss in the short term, the pounds you lost usually come back, and sometimes they bring friends (i.e., more pounds than you started with) along for the party. As an example, a study published in a 2017 issue of the journal Obesity showed that the more drastic a person's initial changes in weight, the more likely he was to have trouble keeping it off.
Your body also needs a certain number of calories per day to stay healthy. Your ideal calorie intake depends on a number of factors, including age, gender, body composition and your level of physical activity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, offers a handy range of estimates to suit your age, gender and activity level.
For example, if you're a moderately active 40-year-old woman, your ideal diet is about 2,000 calories per day. If you're sedentary, it's just 1,800 calories. For a moderately active 40-year-old man, aim for about 2,600 calories per day, whereas a sedentary 40-year-old man needs about 2,400 calories.
A Diet to Reduce Thighs and Hips
Counting calories is just the start. Ultimately what your diet is made up of is actually more important than the final number of calories. So if you want to lose excess body fat, focus on these key principles of a healthy diet, as laid out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020:
- Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables.
- Swap processed grains for whole grains.
- Eat high-quality lean proteins, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Consume fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Avoid highly processed foods whenever possible.
- Limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugar and added sodium.
Although you should limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, your body actually needs healthy fats to function. These come from healthy oils (aim for those that are rich in _un_saturated fat), nuts, fish and some plant foods such as flax and hemp seeds.
Read more: Which Cooking Oil Is Best for Weight Loss?
Foods to Avoid
If you're physically healthy and consistently eating a mostly healthy diet, the occasional splurge won't hurt you. But if you find sweets, salty foods and highly processed foods showing up in your diet every day or in large quantities, you may have a problem that's going to show up on your hips and thighs. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans issues some helpful recommendations to help you steer away from too much of a "good" (or at least, tasty) thing:
- Of your daily calories, less than 10 percent should come from added sugar.
- Less than 10 percent should come from saturated fat.
- Limit your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams.
- Limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
If you really want to lose weight from your hips and thighs quickly, cut out alcohol entirely, at least for a while. One beer or glass of wine can easily have more than 100 calories without delivering much nutrition.
How do you tell if you're getting too many calories from a certain category, like saturated fat or added sugar? Get used to looking at the nutrition labels on everything you buy in the store. These labels break down the nutrient content into categories, including added sugar and saturated fat.
Look at the ingredient lists on any packaged foods you buy. If the list is very long or contains words that you don't recognize as food items, it falls into the "highly processed" category and should go back on the shelf or be reserved for the occasional splurge. You'll find more minimally processed foods if you shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, which is also where the fruits, veggies and other fresh produce usually live.
Home Exercise to Reduce Thighs and Hips
It's possible to lose weight with diet alone, but adding some extra physical activity to your day makes the process even faster and can help you keep the weight off. Consider these statistics from the National Weight Control Registry, which is a long-term effort to track how people lose weight and keep it off. They report that 94 percent of the entrants in their registry used increased physical activity to help get the weight off and keep it off.
That doesn't have to mean getting an expensive gym membership. The most common type of exercise that participants in the registry reported using was walking. In fact, there are lots of ways to add extra physical activity to your daily home life.
The more intense your workouts, the more calories they'll burn, which generally equals faster results. But all movement counts toward your goal. You can do yoga, hold private dance parties, try body weight calisthenics like squats, lunges and pushups (which have the added benefit of sculpting lean muscle and a strong body). Lace up your shoes for a run outside or grab a bicycle and pedal your way to not just slimmer hips and thighs but a healthier heart too.
If you're truly serious about losing weight, you can even take the drastic but effective step or replacing your favorite TV-watching chair with an exercise bike or treadmill instead. You might be surprised by how quickly it becomes second nature to walk or pedal while you watch TV instead of sitting.
Read more: Best At-Home Workouts
Take Your Time
Once you decide it's time to lose some weight, the desire for fast results is perfectly understandable. But take heart: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you lose the weight at a gradual rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week, you're more likely to keep it off. That's because you're building healthy habits that you can sustain for a lifetime.
And while a healthy diet and physical activity are the cornerstones of those healthy habits, there's more. Drinking plenty of water (your urine should be clear or light yellow), getting plenty of sleep (aim for at least seven or eight hours a night) and taking at least one rest day a week are all important components to a long-term, healthy lifestyle that can deliver all sorts of health and weight-loss benefits.
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level
- ExRX.net: Spot Reduction Myth
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Key Recommendations: Components of Healthy Eating Patterns
- Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol Calorie Calculator
- National Weight Control Registry: NWCR Facts
- Mayo Clinic: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What Is Healthy Weight Loss?
- Obesity: Variability in Weight Change Early in Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment: Theoretical and Clinical Implications