Have you ever been told that you need to perform specific exercises to target fat on specific areas of your body? Crunches to target your stomach, or rows to target your back fat? Well surely it would make sense to first understand how the human body is designed to store and lose fat. Then from there, it’s easy to know what steps to take to burn it off.
So where do we put on fat?
When the free fatty acids enter our bloodstream, we have no control over where the fat is going to be stored. For this reason, people may notice that we tend to put on fat everywhere, all at once. It can be stored:
- Subcutaneously: Between the skin and the body
- Intramuscularly: Inside skeletal muscle fibers
- Viscerally: Amongst the organs
- In the joints
Is there anywhere that my body doesn’t store fat?
A few places in the body where fat is not stored include the:
And where do we lose fat?
Similarly, to how fat is gained, when we lose fat, we also have no control over where this will occur on our body, as it tends to come off everywhere at the same rate. With this in mind however, men and women are designed to carry more fat in some areas compared to others, due to their requirements from back in the hunter and gatherer days.
Men tend to carry more fat around the abdominal region because the fat cells in this region are larger and are more metabolically active, meaning that the fat is more easily released into the bloodstream. This meant when they went on long hunting trips, they could easily access this energy source and essentially their fat storage was like a spare packed sandwich they could take with them. This is also the main reason why men respond better to weight loss programs and are able to burn off fat faster than women. But nowadays there is no need for men to leave the house for hunting trips and use that stored energy, because they can simply pick up the phone and have a pizza delivered to their doorstep if they wanted. This means their three-course meal often remains stored as fat in their abdomen region.
On the other hand, women tend to have a higher fat concentration around their hips and thighs, as well as under the arms. This is because women are physiologically designed to preserve and reproduce life. From a reproductive point of view, women need enough energy to provide for their baby for nine months, compared to men who require smaller bursts of energy for hunting. Their fat that is stored around the hips and thighs is in close proximity to the reproductive system to enable the provision of energy for their baby, while the fat that under the arms is used to supply energy for the lactate system. Fat cells in women are also smaller and more metabolically restrictive in letting fat out of the cells. This is because the body wants you to hold onto fat, so that if pregnant you have enough energy to preserve life for 9 months. The restrictive nature of the fat cells combined with having naturally less muscle mass and therefore a lower metabolic rate, means it is harder for women to lose fat, particularly around the hips and thighs.
So even though we all have different body shapes and sizes, it’s clear that no one actually has control over where fat will be stored or removed. If you have a problem area where you’re looking to shred fat, you need to expend more energy than you’re taking in, which will consequently burn off fat everywhere, all at once. Just remember; even though we can’t target fat burn, the one thing we can control is our exercise and healthy eating to determine how much fat we gain or lose.
DID YOU KNOW?
The first places where you will often put on fat are the throat and the tongue. This can be a big factor to why people snore, as their tongue falls down into the throat and partially blocks their airway.