Understanding the science behind losing and gaining weight in different parts of the body

I'm always perplexed by the ways in which our bodies work. However, I'm not alone. Once my mom exclaimed, my face is always the area in which I lose weight fast. This surprised me as well. It forced me to think about whether the observation is correct or it is just because we pay attention to our faces that we notice it losing weight. However, the truth is that whenever I gain weight, the stomach and the thighs always gain the fat first. Besides that, these are the parts of the body from which it is difficult for me to eliminate fat. When I attempt to lose weight, I usually lose weight first from the upper body rather than the stomach area or the thighs.

I'm amazed by the ability of the body to transform itself. However, how it does so is always surprising. That is why I decided to find out whether the weight loss process is uniform along all the body parts or whether you lose weight from some parts of the body first compared to others.

I consulted various fitness experts regarding the same and will share with you my findings below.

Which parts of the body lose weight first?

According to Lisa Wheel from Apple Fitness+, you will usually lose fat from the trunk and abs first compared to the leg and the gluteal area. That is the reason why it might appear that men lose weight faster as compared to women. She further adds that women with a lot of fat accumulated in the trunk and abs area might seem like they are losing weight faster than women who have fat accumulated in the gluteal and leg section of the body. In a nutshell, weight loss and weight gain can vary according to gender and from one individual to another.

In which parts of the body do you gain weight faster?

Most experts agree that the midsection is prone to gaining weight at a faster pace than the calves and forearms. This is because the fat cells in the body, also known as adipocytes, are present in greater quantity in women's hips, butt, stomach, and thigh areas. For men, they are found plentiful in the stomach. Overall, they are present throughout the body but are more concentrated in these areas. That is why women gain weight faster in the areas mentioned above.

According to Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, F-Factor Diet creator also calls it sex-specific fat in her best seller The F-Factor Diet. This fat in women also serves as an energy reserve and is used by the body in pregnancy and lactation. The body uses them as fat reserves for energy generation and therefore uses them only when needed during demanding situations like childbirth.

Men are more prone to gaining belly fat. This fat envelopes the various organs in that area of the body and slows down metabolic activity. She further adds that such fat is easy to break, and therefore it is not as difficult for men to lose weight as for women in these areas of the body. According to some research, this dangerous fat, also known as Visceral fat, can be reduced by increasing fiber consumption.

According to wheeler, genetics cannot be ignored when considering fat accumulation. Usually, there are four different patterns of fat storage in the body. These include:

1. Even distribution of fat

2. Fat deposition in trunk and abdomen (common in men)

3. Fat deposition in legs, clothes, and trunk (common in women)

4. Fat deposition in the abdominal area

Factors that impact weight loss:

The basic principle to burning more calories is to limit the number of calories you are consuming than you are burning. If you're wondering about the exact numbers, if you have a deficit of 3500 cal, you will lose 1 lb of fat. However, there are quite a few factors that govern weight loss:

  • Age
  • Daily physical activity
  • Genetics
  • Stress levels
  • Hormonal levels
  • Thyroid health
  • Diet
  • Sex
  • Sleep cycles
  • Medications
  • Health ailments
  • And so on

Can you lose fat from specific parts of your body?

While many fat-burning elixirs claim to help you lose stomach fat but the claims are seldom true. According to Zuckerbot, the visceral fat in the abdominal part of the body can be reduced with increased fiber consumption. This is especially true for subcutaneous fat, which is the fat that is directly underneath the skin. Similarly, just by eating certain foodstuffs, you might not be able to lose weight from a particular part of the body. Similarly, burning more calories than you're consuming and having a healthy diet devoid of excessive fat and sugar will also help you lose fat from your entire body rather than just a particular part.

Another way to lose fat in your body is through a proper exercise routine. However, contrary to popular opinion, reducing fat only from certain targeted body parts with targeted workouts seldom works. You can tone these areas and burn more calories, but if you are targeting only a single part of the body, you won't be able to lose weight only from that part of the body. A better approach is to focus on your overall fitness.

According to Amanda Butler, NASM certified personal trainer, it is much better to opt for complete body workouts, which will help you reduce the overall body fat. High-intensity interval training(HIIT) and lifting weights will help you build your lean muscle and improve your metabolic activity, which will help you with fat loss. After that, you can opt for strength training which will tone and build up the muscles to provide you with the look you have been striving for.

According to Jeffrey GLadd, MD, member of Care/of Scientific Advisory Board, it is not advisable to opt for targeted workouts. Rather than that, a holistic approach is much more effective. He further adds that just by targeting a particular part of your body, like the abs, you will be wasting time which you can otherwise spend working on muscle groups. Working on muscle groups rather than a single muscle or area will help you lose weight faster rather than getting disappointing results by just working on a single body part.

How much weight should you attempt to lose?

The Centre for disease control and prevention states that you can safely lose up to 2 lbs of weight per week. This is also a sustainable rate that ensures you won't suffer from any side effects by losing this much weight over a longer time. Anything over that can prove to be unsafe in the longer run. Not only that, sustaining a higher rate of weight loss is very difficult, and you will fail eventually. Also, to lose weight at a higher rate, you might have to opt for extreme dieting or exercise routine, which might make you prone to injury and eventually slow down your metabolic activity.

You need to keep in mind that it is necessary to lose weight and not muscle when you're attempting to become lighter. That is why you have to be satisfied with a slower rate of weight loss and take a more measured approach.


The best way to lose 1 lb of fat per week is to simply create a deficit of 500 cal.

What are the healthiest ways to lose weight?

Many people who work in the fitness and weight loss industry state that just by balancing your hormones in a much better way, you can lose weight. Charles Passler, a nutritionist who works with many models, states that estrogen imbalance may make individuals immune to weight loss. On the other hand, such individuals can easily gain weight. The job of estrogen in our body is to ensure that the insulin produced by the body can control blood sugar levels. In case the estrogen levels are not appropriate, the body starts gaining weight at a rapid pace.

For some, regulating hormones might seem pretty difficult. The simplest way to do so is to monitor your diet. Charles further adds that insulin reduces sugar deposition in your body in three different areas. When it is working appropriately, the insulin levels are proper, the amount of glucose supplied to your lever is low, more glucose is supplied to your muscles, and very little to no glucose is used for fat storage. Consequently, when your body produces a proper quantity of insulin, your sugar levels will be maintained, and the fat deposition rate will be lower.

Many experts warn that higher estrogen levels hamper the functioning of insulin and can even make your body insulin resistant. When that happens, the glucose might not be supplied to the liver or muscles. This glucose will deposit as fat, increasing your body's fat deposition rate. That is why estrogen imbalance leads to more fat being accumulated around the hip area. Charles explains this will result in a pear-shaped body type. It is also the reason why the pear-shaped body is more common in women than men.

According to him, to avoid this problem, you should simply consume foodstuffs that reduce the amount of estrogen in your body. These include kale, cauliflower, sprouts, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, and so on. Simultaneously you should keep away from foodstuffs that increase the estrogen levels in your body, like soy-based products, red meat, sugar, dairy products, and liquids stored in containers that might have BPAs. Another way to reduce estrogen levels is to manage stress better and increase your physical activity and sleep duration.

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