Not Losing Weight in Stomach, Thighs, Face?

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Evan is a male aged 20, 5′ 6″. He went from 180 lbs to 140 lbs, BUT now…

He can’t understand how he’s lost all this weight but thinks “my stomach still looks terrible!”

His first 33 were from dietary changes alone, the last 6.5 lbs he introduced cardio. (he got a stationary bike).

Why isn’t fat melting off of his stomach yet?

Relax. There is an Answer to This

Do you aspire to a certain body shape?

I guess we all do. The bad news is that genetics dictate certain things. The good news is that we do have the power to change some things.

We can’t change our bone structure, and the way our body burns fat in specific areas is also something that is unique to us.

Check out these inspiring folks who have found the answer.

Where Does Fat Disappear First?

Do you find when you lose fat it disappears from the places you want to stay big?2186-bodyfat

Maybe it stubbornly holds on to the places you really want to slim down.

Some of the books we’ve read tried to sell us “spot reduction”. It’s a myth. We cannot choose to burn the fat on our waist over that in our face.

There Are 2 Kinds of Fat

We have adipose tissue all over the body.

This tissue is made of adipocytes (fat cells) whose sole job is to store energy in the form of fat. Body fat distribution differs from person to person.

There are generally two types of fat storage:

  • visceral (surrounding organs).
  • subcutaneous (beneath the skin – about 80% of all body fat is this type (src)).

Does eating fat make you fat? We get to the bottom of that myth here.

Where Do We Gain Fat?

apple-pear
Typical Areas

  • Women – around the buttocks and thighs (gluteofemoral): “pear-shaped”.
  • Men –  around the abdomen: “apple-shaped”.

These are the predominant patterns – but both ‘apple’ and ‘pear’ shaped distribution can be found in either gender.

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Specific Areas

Knee Fat often builds up on the inside region of the knees in women.
Upper Arm Common in women, fat build up can occur in the middle to the upper area of the upper arm – typically covering the triceps area. Some women elect to have arm liposuction procedure to remove fat from this area without the marks caused by surgery.
Abdomen Fat buildup around the navel area is common in both men and women. It is also one of the few fat deposits that are also found in slim women.
Inner Thigh Fat storage between the thighs is common in women – but also occurs with men. It is more noticeable in women due to the width of the pelvis that in turn influences the position of the thigh (femur).
Outer Thigh Sometimes called “Riding Breeches” – this area is the most likely place for the pitted or ‘quilted’ appearance of cellulite. This fat concentration also blends with fat tissue on the inner thigh and the buttocks.
Buttocks Without fat here – sitting would be quite uncomfortable. Fat is held in place by the gluteal fold. If significant fat is lost from the buttock, only appropriate training can prevent the buttock from sagging down against the thigh.
Lower Back This fat concentration often merges with the buttock area.
Chest Breast tissue comprises the mammary gland (one’s ‘endowment’) surrounded by fat. Men also have atrophied glands and fat in this area. Both sexes gain fat in this area. In men, this can sometimes be mistaken for gynecomastia – a condition that includes not only fat build up, but growth in gland tissue.

Ethnic Variation
There is considerable research showing that fat distribution varies between ethnic groups.

  • Asian adults are more prone to visceral and central obesity than Europeans.
  • Mediterranean women are prone to fat gain in the outer thighs.

Where You Lose Fat First

For most people, fat acts like the layers of an onion.

It doesn’t disappear from a particular place but comes off layer by layer from the whole body.

However, in some people there are localized areas where fat loss (and gain) is more pronounced, and while fat is still shed from all over the body, the loss is proportionately different in different areas.

It tends to go from the most recent place it appeared.

If your tummy started gaining first – this will be the very last place for the fat to disappear from.

This is why a man can get thin in the face – and yet still have a small ‘spare tire’ around his waist. Or a woman may complain of a smaller bust, and yet her hip size has dropped only a tiny amount.

See here: The most important tool for fat loss

Cellulite is Different

White areas are fatty tissue. The person on the left has fat surrounding internal organs.

White areas are fatty tissue. The person on the left has fat surrounding internal organs.

This is further compounded by cellulite. With cellulite tissue, fatty acids are contained in a net of fibrous connective tissue.

As fat loss occurs the net becomes compressed – making it difficult for the blood supply to readily remove the fat from these stubborn areas.

Why Do I Lose Weight But Look the Same?

fat-jiggler

  • Obese men tend to lose more visceral (internal) fat while obese women lose more subcutaneous fat (src).
  • Exercise seems to result in more subcutaneous fat loss.
  • Diet alone results in more visceral fat loss (and less surface fat loss) (src).

This explains how you can lose weight – but not necessarily have any radical change in appearance.

What You Can Do

There is very little you can do to influence specific subcutaneous fat distribution.

Exercise should always be a part of any fat loss program – but vigorously exercising a specific body part will not have any influence on local fat in that area. This myth has been debunked again and again.

High-repetition (e.g. 20-30 reps) weight training will not lead to greater fat loss.

In fact, the loss of intensity may ultimately result in less fat loss than lower-reps with heavier weights. Higher reps are good for muscular endurance (more).

Switch Up Your Diet. If you have been in a regimented plan and your fat loss has stalled, it may be time for something different.

It can be very frustrating but everybody is different.

Stay committed to your training and nutrition – and don’t be dissuaded by the commercials and images that show perfectly proportioned clones.

Understand how your body works, and set achievable goals accordingly.

Photo: Pareerica countrykitty

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.
Updated October 1, 2019

149 Comments

  • Wilson 2 months ago

    Hey my name is Wilson I was 115kg but now I’m stuck at 90kg
    I’m even doing CrossFit now but the scale is not working in my favor. I started last year July with my journey.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 2 months ago

      Yey Wilson, Great job on your progress so far. Are you tracking your nutrition? It sounds like you need some adjustments.

      Reply
  • Neha 6 months ago

    I was 69kg and by strength training and cardio i lost 6.3 kg in 8 weeks which is 62.7 kg now…i have to loose 10 more kgs to reach my goal…but im not loosing around hips thighs and love handles…is it much harder and slow process to loose around these areas ?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 6 months ago

      Hi Neha, Good job on your efforts so far! This is typically where fat gets stored first and where fat is last to leave. Just be patient and you’ll get there. It sounds like your deficit might be a tad too severe so make sure you are supporting the exercise you’re doing with enough nutrition. Check out my calculator here: Macro Calculator for Accurate Daily Macronutrients and Calories

      Reply
  • Vicky 11 months ago

    Hy,am losing belly fat but not at fat , what can I do??

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach) 11 months ago

      Hi Vicky, It looks like there are some typos in your question and I’m not sure what you are asking. Could you clarify?

      Reply
  • Fatima

    My name is Fatima. I am a teenager.
    I am first class obese and have to lose 48 lbs. I lost almost 10 lbs today in weight scale but I dont see any difference in mu body why? 😣

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Fatima, The body has external and internal fat deposits. Sometimes the first to go is internal which isn’t as noticeable from the outside. Just make sure you’re trying to lose weight in a healthy way. See here: Counting Macros for Losing Weight Without Starvation

      Reply
    • Jumanji miya

      Princess u will see changes soon first reach ur goals for lossing 48lbs

      Reply
  • Michelle Gonzales

    I highly suggest to everyone to download an app from the Google store called my fitness pal. I have been using this app sense March 17th and it is now June 12th and I have lost 27 pounds. I work 10hr days 6 days a week. With this schedule I just don’t have enough time to work out. I lost all of this weight by using this app. I hope that this helps with your weight loss goals.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  • Elva Le Roy

    I lost 30 pounds due to stress all on my legs and arms , how do I get muscle in legs and arms ?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Elva, You can build/strengthen muscle tissue by doing weight-bearing exercise and eating the right diet. For the diet part use my macro calculator: Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator

      Reply
  • Anjali

    I’m 38.my wt is 95 kgs which I gained during twin pregnancy 3yrback n still not loss even 1 kg.. Joined gym inch loss is there but no weigth loss. Irregular periods

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Anjali, It sounds like your nutrition is off. It’s helpful learn how much you should be eating based on your stats, lifestyle, and goals. Here’s my page that calculates this for you. Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator

      Reply
  • John

    I am 21 yo male, 5’11 and 73 kg. It seems that most of my fat goes into my hips and thighs. I lost 10 kgs but my lower body fat is almost the same as before. I lost my self-confidence because of this and try to avoid going out as much as possible.

    Reply
    • Suzanne Borelo

      Have you tried the keto diet? It has done wonders for me and I’m 30 years older than you! Check it out. You can eat delicious foods too!

      Reply
      • Alan

        Keto diet just cuts water weight initially. If you eat a high fat diet you eat less food than high carbs and protein. Just facts. You can get the same dry look keto gives you by hopping in the sauna.

        Reply