Spot Reduction : Myth or Reality ?
“How can I reduce my belly fat/thighs/hips?” or “ Yaar , mera baki sab theek hai bas pet thoda ander kaise jayega” are some of the frequently asked questions in the Fittr FB group and Fittr application and not just that, we also see many trainer in the gym making their student do 500-1000 crunches/ leg raises in a single session, in order to reduce their belly fat. Thereby promoting the fact that more we move specific body part , the more will be fat reduction from that body part. While intuitively for any novice person [I am talking about person who is novice to fitness, forget about being novice to science], it does sound convincing that doing more of certain body part will lead to greater fat loss of that area. Like, if I am moving my abs, why the hell would body go all the way to burn fat stored in my biceps or my face to generate the energy for that abs exercise? To answer that question, we need to understand that our body stores fat in the form of “Triglycerides” and unfortunately, these triglycerides cannot be picked directly used as a fuel source to generate energy (ATP’s). To use these triglycerides, they are first broken down into the Glycerol and Free Fatty Acid, which then go into blood stream, which of course circulates in whole body and further goes through a very complex processes into order to generate the ATP (Energy). Thereby, indicating the fact that burning of fat at a certain area or body part might not be a function of moving/exercising that body part. However, just because metabolizing of fat is a complex process doesn’t necessary mean that spot reduction is completely anecdotal. There are 5 studies available on spot reduction, out of 4 have concluded spot reduction is certainly something which is not a reality, which was also the scientific consensus till 2017 until one study came in 2017, which clearly highlighted that spot reduction does come into play when specific body part exercise is followed by an low intensity cardio session. [Details of all the studies are in the pic attached]. However, reviewing the latest 2017 study Dr. Eric Helms mentions that “We need to be cautious before we confidently accept these findings of spot reduction. This is one study after all and it is a low sample size cohort with less than ideal measurement tools, so it is possible these finding might be erroneous” Practical takeaway: While the spot reduction does have seems to have mixed views when it comes to scientific literature and all the 5 studies does have their fair share of limitation. however personally speaking, having done 200-300 side bends per session in the past to reduce my love handles. I can confidently vouch for the fact that sustainable calorie deficit along with progressive resistance training and little bit of patience is the best way to lose fat from any specific body part or area. Reference: https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/685223/thickness-subcutaneous-fat-activity-underlying-muscles?doi=10.7326%2f0003-4819-74-3-408 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17596787 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21804427 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23222084 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28497942