“How do I get rid of my fat at the bottom of my belly?”  

“How do I get my butt to lift up?”  

“How do I get rid of my bingo wings?” 

These are just some of the questions I get asked everyday when it comes to exercise and although these may sound superficial, they are many people’s main reasons for exercising. But is it even possible to spot reduce body fat and how can I do it (without liposuction)? 

The 101 on Body Fat

Well first of all you must appreciate when people are talking about toning their body they are essential talking about two things happening:  

  1. Increasing muscle mass 
  1. Reducing body fat mass 

Without muscle you will look like a saggy skeleton and with too much fat you will look like the Michelin man. And it is not a case of your fat turning into muscle when you exercise, these are too separate structures that work independently of each other. So what is the best practice? 

Reducing Body Fat 

When it comes to reducing body fat you cannot target a certain area of the body to reduce it. You must decrease your overall body fat mass. To get an idea on what your percentage should be see (http://www.betterbeing.com.au/what-is-the-best-way-to-measure-body-fat-why-i-dont-step-on-the-scales/).  

When it comes to reducing body fat the key is getting your calorie intake right. To ensure you are burning fat and not losing muscle you should have around 500 calorie deficit (around 1500 calories for 70kg male) and consume at least 1.8-2.7g of protein per kg of body mass per day (if you are 70kg around 150g per day). 

Increasing Muscle Definition 

However the good news is you can target particular muscles with resistance training. And that after burn you feel two days after your session, commonly known as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) isn’t your fat melting away, but is your muscle tissue growing. The added benefit of more muscle mass is your body will burn more fat on a daily basis.  

Feel like you have enough muscle and want to reduce your body fat?  

The key is maximise the calories you burn continue with resistance training but do so in a manner where you don’t work one particular muscle group but rather the whole body. Throw in some high intensity interval training at the end of your session to really maximise results. 

The real challenge comes in trying to increase muscle and decrease body fat at the same time. Essentially you are trying to do two conflicting things at the same time, particularly if you have been exercising on a regular basis. If you really want to maximise your results, focus on doing one of these at a time. I tend to focus on building a foundation of muscle mass first followed by reducing overall body fat mass. 

So you can’t spot reduce fat but you can spot increase muscle. It is important to make sure your nutrition and exercise are complimenting each other by focusing on achieving one outcome at a time.