Not Losing Weight in Stomach, Thighs, Face?

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.

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 upper area of the upper arm – typically covering the tricep 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 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 and is our lead macro coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see our personal coaching options.

131 Comments

  1. John 2 weeks ago

    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
  2. Marian Rohrbaugh 2 months ago

    I have lost 31 lbs but still have a spare tire and belly. Walk on a treadmill every day. Eat small portion of food. I like to eat a salad for lunch per package with calorie on it.what can I do to get this smaller have lost some there and in smaller clothes

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 2 months ago

      Hi Marian, Great job on your success so far! It would probably be helpful for you to have a more dialed in idea of how much you should be eating. Have a look at our macro calculator here: Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator

      Reply
  3. KAE 3 months ago

    Very good article. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Stephen 3 months ago

    After Giving up Smoking & Drinking Alcohol I have now Targetted My Weight/Diet!,
    I have lost Nearly 2 Stone (28 Pounds) over the last 6 Months or so by Improving My Diet & Exercising but My Main wish is to get rid of My Pronounced Midriff so I can Wear Shirts/T-Shirts inside My tucked inside My trousers again without a Bulge that makes Me Self Conscious!,
    Any Tips to Target Belly Fat?,
    Thanks!.

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 3 months ago

      Hey Stephan, Great job so far. Just stick with the program and be consistent. The ability to target certain areas for fat loss is a myth. For men, belly fat is usually the last to go.

      Reply
  5. Barbara 5 months ago

    I’m at a stall. I lost ten pounds, now no matter what I do can’t break it. Work out every morning,cardio for an hour, eat low carb no sugar. In ketosis the whole time. I do see a difference in how my clothes fit and feel though. Is there something I’m not doing? Need 25 more pounds gone.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 5 months ago

      Hi Barbara, It sounds like you may have slowed your metabolism from a long period of undereating while exercising. Give this article a read and see if it resonates with you.

      Reply
  6. pumaina 6 months ago

    hey. I’m 16 and 80kg.. my whole is getting fat day by day.. chest, armpit,legs and specially belly and face. but I even don’t eat much.. facing a lot of problems related to weight these days.. any surgery,treatment or solution to solve this?
    please help.. seriously in need.

    Reply
  7. Rosalie 7 months ago

    I’m 18 years old, I’m 5’6 1/2, and 132 pounds.. generally I would say I’m on the thinner side.. however my stomach and love handle area are horrible. Even when I was at my lightest weight (118), which is nearly underweight for my height, I still had horrible love handles. I don’t know what to do or how to get rid of them. Even though the rest of me is generally thin, my stomach area is not.. does anyone know what I can do?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 7 months ago

      Do you do core/ab work? A bigger stomach can be caused by weak lower ab muscles that allow your internal organs to push out. Conversely, if you overtrain your Obliques (love handles) they can become bigger and be more pronounced.

      Reply
  8. Sebastian Oyola 10 months ago

    Wait so a friend told me you lose more fat by eating less, or healthy food than to exercise. Is this true?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 10 months ago

      Diet is about 85% of the recipe for fat loss, exercise is the other 15%. You always have to have your eating in check before you can count on sustainable results.

      Reply
  9. Børge Blåtind

    Hi, I am 62 years old, have the last 2,5 year lost about 55 kg. I am 183,5 cm tall. Now I see a slight six pac. All due to low carb, 30% protein from eggs, fatty fish and lamb, pluss real butter and virgin olive oil.
    Keteonic diet and also OMADD, one meal a day, I eat about 3500 calories, feel full all the time and become stronger using my Bullworker and Convict Conditioning for an hour 3 days a week.
    I dont believe you can do massive weightless on calorie reduction. Read the book:
    Why we are fat and what to do about it.

    Reply
    • Liz 8 months ago

      This is so true! I am 52 and lost 32 lbs in 6 months going low carb/sugar. I FEEL 100% better! With better eating habits, good nutrition, and exercise my cholesterol dropped into the normal range and I can run 5 and 10Ks now.

      Reply