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You Can't Lose Just Belly Fat

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
17th March 2021
You Can't Lose Just Belly Fat
It is not possible to do spot reduction (Getty Images).

The Claim

You can lose just belly fat.

Emerging story

Many on social media often complain of fat around their abdomen (belly fat). In response, some social media users offer cures to eliminate belly fat. 

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Misbar’s Analysis

Targeted fat loss, also known as “spot reduction,” is a popular idea since we each tend to carry excess weight in different areas of our body. For example, hormones drive the deposition of fat around the pelvis, buttocks, and thighs of women and the bellies of men according to Scientific American. However, Misbar has discovered that the idea that we can lose weight in a specific place is misleading.

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According to Mercy Health, when it comes to body fat, there’s no such thing as “spot” reducing. When you lose fat, it comes off proportionately from your entire body. Unfortunately, we cannot directly burn the fat in fat cells, because fat takes the form of triglycerides and muscle cells do not use triglycerides as fuel. Fat must be metabolized into glycerol and free fatty acids, which enter the bloodstream, so in reality, fat broken down for fuel can come from anywhere in the body according to YaleScientific.org. This is true even if we focus on exercising that particular body part. 

In a 2007 study led by the University of Connecticut, 104 participants completed a twelve-week supervised resistance-training program in which their non-dominant arm was selectively exercised. MRI assessments of subcutaneous fat before and after the program revealed that fat loss tended to be generalized, rather than only occurring in the trained arm.

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According to the American Council on Exercise: “For years the word has been out that spot reduction doesn’t work, yet popular workouts and recommendations continue to suggest that it does. Fat does get released from fat cells for energy. Unfortunately, the systems responsible for this process do not take into consideration the parts of the body you would most like the fat to be drawn from.”

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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