“I only want to lose my double chin” – The myth of spot reduction

How many times have you looked into a mirror and criticised one part of your body?
“I wish my legs were thinner.”
“I wish my upper arms weren’t so rounded.”
“If I could just lose my double chin, I’d look very nice.”

These thoughts have crossed our minds at some point of time or the other. The problem in thinking like this is that it perpetuates a belief in spot reduction – or a belief that with exercise, food, or miracle cures, you can “reduce fat” from a certain part of your body.

Is spot reduction possible?

Where your body stores fat is somewhat beyond your control. Your genes, your hormones, even your gender – these things have a large role to play in how your body is shaped.

When we combine eating healthy, limiting our calorific intake, and appropriate exercise, our body starts to lose fat. But where we lose it from cannot be decided beforehand.

What about exercising certain parts of the body?

All forms of exercise help with toning the muscles. Certain exercises tone certain parts of the body. Sit-ups, for instance, tighten the muscles in the abdomen. But it’s important to note that it is only with a combination of eating the right amount of calories and being active that overall weight loss will happen.

To end with an example: Someone who has fat stored on their sides above the hips (“love handles”) may use a side-bend or an abdominal side-to-side twisting exercise in an attempt to reduce this fat. Such exercises may strengthen the muscles responsible for those movements, but they will have a negligible impact on reducing the amount of fat stored there.

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