Upper hip fat is the same as fat in any other area of your body. It's caused by your body storing excess energy, or calories. Although there are genetic factors and some health issues that can be to blame, this is largely the result of eating more calories than your body needs.
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In order to shed hip fat -- and total body fat -- you have to flip the balance, taking in fewer calories than you expend each day. How do you do that? It's actually pretty simple: Exercise more and eat less.
You'll see a lot of claims about cardio workouts that torch 800 calories an hour or are guaranteed to get you an hourglass figure by Sunday. The fact is those results are inflated and intimidating if you're just embarking on an exercise plan. Here's the truth: Any cardio you do will burn calories and fat -- as long as you actually do it.
Step one is the hardest—getting started. What do you like to do? Jogging, swimming, using the elliptical at the gym, taking an aerobics or dance class, hiking? Do it, and do it as often as possible.
At a minimum, you should be getting two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise every week. Instead, you can do a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. For example, jogging is a moderate-intensity activity, while running is vigorous. The higher the intensity, the more calories you'll burn.
However, if you really want to see those hip deposits skedaddle, you need to up your cardio game, doing 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 2.5 hours of vigorous cardio each week.
If you're already doing cardio and not seeing results, either increase the amount of time or the intensity of each session.
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For a tight, toned midsection, you need more muscle. Muscle takes more energy to build and maintain than fat. As a result, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns even while you're doing nothing.
If you're not currently strength training, you're going to want to start out slowly and gradually increase your knowledge, exercise vocabulary and ability. For now, you probably remember calisthenics -- good old bodyweight exercises -- from school. These are just as good for building muscle as anything else.
Choose several exercises that target all your major muscle groups -- chest, shoulders, arms, back, abs, butt and legs. Do lunges, squats, step-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, crunches and Supermans.
Arrange the exercises in a circuit-style workout by doing a set of each, one after the other without resting in between. Then, repeat the circuit two to five times. Add in some jumping jacks or jump rope to get a great cardio boost as you build muscle.
Experiment with a weight training class at your gym or hire a trainer to show you the basics of weight lifting. You can use the machines at the gym to get you started; eventually, add in free weight exercises for variety.
Some of the best weightlifting exercises for burning fat and building muscle are deadlifts, squats, leg press, row, lat pulldowns, bench press and overhead press. You can also take a vigorous yoga or kickboxing class, or any other type of class that builds strength. Aim for two to three total-body workouts each week.
Here's what not to consume if you want to lose your muffin top:
- Processed foods
- Junk foods
- Ice cream
- Baked goods
- White bread, pasta and rice
- Fried foods
- Sweetened drinks
Here's what you should eat:
- Fresh, whole foods in their natural state
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean, clean proteins, such as light meat chicken, fish and beans
- Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil
You want a healthy balance of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats, and you need to stay within your calorie budget for the day. What that budget is depends on several factors, including your age, current weight, gender and activity level. A health professional, such as a doctor or nutritionist, can help you find your magic number.
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