You’re not comfortable with your fat thighs. It could be worse — having some thigh fat is quite normal, but that doesn’t mean you just have to settle for it. While some types of fat can kill you (think belly fat), some research suggests that the fat stored on your hips, butt, and thighs may actually help protect you from the same diseases that excess tummy fat can bring on. People with some fat in their lower body usually have better long-term health.
At the very least, lower body fat doesn’t seem to increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes the way abdominal fat does.
Of course, that isn’t much consolation when you’re trying to pull a pair of skinny jeans up past your knees. The sad irony is that the same properties of thigh fat that make it less dangerous to your health also make it harder to get rid of. It simply doesn’t break down as readily as belly fat does. It is a stubborn kind of fat.
The same methods you’d use to burn fat anywhere else on your body — good old diet and exercise — are your best bet for thinner thighs, too; they’ll just take longer to work. Still, there are some things you can do to make your thighs look firmer and more shapely when all that eating right and exercising finally melt off the fat.
Women and Thigh Fat
Where your body stores fat has a lot to do with hormones, and female hormones direct fat primarily to the hips, thighs, and butt. Unfortunately, once fat gets there, it’s reluctant to move. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes perfect sense because when a woman breastfeeds a baby, her body draws specifically on hip and thigh fat for the extra calories needed for milk production. That’s why pregnant women tend to gain a lot of weight in their lower bodies, and why those who breastfeed usually lose that weight more quickly after their pregnancies. Of course, if you aren’t planning to nurse a baby anytime soon, you’d probably like to tell evolution where it can stick its thigh fat.
While recent years have thankfully brought back more enthusiasm around a little muscle and shape throughout the lower body, most women still prefer not to have excessively thick thighs. The days of balance are here, and if you suffer from excessive lower-body fat, there are things you can do about it.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Thigh Fat Through Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is crucial if you want to lose thigh fat. Thigh toning exercises can firm the muscles and skin to help your legs appear a bit thinner, but they can’t actually force your body to burn fat on your thighs instead of somewhere else. When the body uses fat as fuel, it takes it from all over, not just from the limb that’s in motion. In other words, you can’t really spot-burn fat. But the fact is that you can use some of your own fat cells to actually burn their fellow fat cells on your behalf. It just requires you to sweat and get the heart rate up.
So the best way to reduce inner thigh fat is to work your whole body with 30 to 60 minutes of cardio, five to seven days a week. Focus on athletics like running, swimming, biking, and other exercises that require a sustained effort rather than short bursts of energy. You can get started at home, especially with the variety of online cardio videos from Amazon, many of them free with Amazon Prime.
Weight training is an important way to reduce thigh fat. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body burns to sustain itself while at rest. Again, don’t just focus on your thighs; the leg press will help firm your thigh muscles, but by also lifting weights with your arms, you can improve your body’s overall ratio of muscle to fat even more quickly. And the better that ratio is, the more fat you’ll burn just sitting around. As tempting as spot-toning may be, it just doesn’t work as well as a whole-body approach to burning fat.
A good starter set of dumbbells doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, assuming you are not an olympic bodybuilder. And there are so many types of exercises you can do with them. Here is a good starter set of dumb bells on Amazon.
Pilates can tone and lengthen thigh muscles. By definition, Pilates is whole-body exercise, which is, as we’ve said, the best kind. Because the point of Pilates is to move with precision rather than intensity, it doesn’t burn enough calories to reduce fat deposits on its own. But many people who practice Pilates say that the heightened physical awareness it gives them helps with appetite control. Plus, incorporating movements into your Pilates routine that specifically work the inner and outer thigh muscles will help ensure that when your diet and cardio efforts begin to pay off, the thighs that emerge from underneath that layer of fat will be strong and lean.
The best pilates is usually done at a fitness club or gym as part of a class, but that can get pretty expensive. You can get started at home, using a book like this one by Katherine and Kimberly Corp.
Inner Thigh Exercises
Tone your thighs with inner thigh exercises. The muscles on the inside of your thighs are called the adductor muscles. As you could no doubt deduce, the adductor machine at your local gym is designed to strengthen and tighten this group of muscles. It’s a pretty simple thing: two pads at knee level, attached to weights for resistance, that you press together between your legs while your feet go along for the ride in a pair of stirrups. You can also do this at home, sitting up straight on the edge of a chair or the floor with the soles of your feet flat on the ground, toes pointed forward. Squeeze a rubber ball, ThighMaster, or Pilates Magic Circle between your thighs, hold for a few seconds, and repeat.
Outer Thigh Exercises
Tone your thighs with outer thigh exercises. The muscles of the outer thigh are the abductor muscles, and you’ll find a machine at the gym designed to work these, too. It’s called — wait for it — the abductor machine, and it provides resistance as you push your legs outward against the pads. You can get a similar effect at home by standing on a resistance band with your feet about hips’ distance apart and your hands at your hips, holding the handles of the band. Step one leg to the side inside the band, then step the other leg over to meet it. Start with five steps to the left and five to the right, and add reps as you can. Here’s an excellent set of resistance bands that you may want to start with, from Amazon!
Dietary and Other Tips for Losing Thigh Fat
The Beta Switch Diet
The Beta Switch diet (here) is a diet plan from Sue Heintze, an Australian fitness figure who struggled with weight and body image issues for a good 20 years. She ultimately refined a diet specifically for women, one that targets the common issue of thigh and lower-body fat. The results can be impressive, and it does not involve any type of gimmick. It is basically Sue providing guidance and a common-sense diet approach, specifically for females.
Sue’s program can incorporate some workout techniques as well. It is really designed to focus on cellulite and thigh fat, helping to reduce the overall upper-leg thickness to something more streamlined. The end result is increased confidence and a more attractive overall figure.
We have been impressed with what we have seen from Sue’s program. Find more information on the Beta Switch program here.
Limit the fatty, salty, sugary, and processed foods in your diet
Replace them with whole foods and healthy snacks such as vegetables, fruits, and raw nuts. In addition to helping with your thigh fat effort, this kind of diet shift is just good for your body overall.
Keep in mind that this kind of diet, one with less sugar and fat, will not fully affect the cellulite issue — the “cottage cheese” look of dimpled skin — it absolutely will play an important role in reducing the amount of thigh fat you might have.
Limit your alcohol consumption
Even moderate drinking can reduce your body’s ability to burn fat because alcohol is broken down into acetate in the liver, and as long as acetate is in the bloodstream, the body uses it for fuel instead of fat.
What is the “right” level of alcohol consumption? If you are someone who doesn’t feel the need to drink, then by all means, don’t. But for females, a limit of 1 drink per day is what is currently recommended. So yes, you can have that glass of red wine after work.
Move around more
You burn more calories gardening, doing housework, walking the dog, and pushing your shopping cart to the far end of the parking lot than you do sitting down.
A daily walk can do wonders for your health. If you live in a cold climate, consider getting a membership to a gym, or trying to find employment that might include some fitness perks.
Get enough sleep
Research shows that when we sleep for about eight hours a night, our bodies produce less of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin and more of the appetite-limiting hormone leptin. So being well-rested can make it easier to avoid overeating.
Lots of people like to boast about their ability to get by on little sleep. The fact of the matter is that not getting enough sleep can have dire and compounding effects on your overall health.
If you have trouble turning your brain off at night, consider using the natural supplement melatonin. 5mg is about the right dosage for many adults. Take it about 20 minutes before you’d like to get drowsy. It augments the melatonin already in your body, which is the chemical responsible for telling your brain when it is day and when it is night. Find 5mg melatonin here on Amazon.
Try Green Tea
Green tea can increase your metabolism by as much as 4%, thanks in part to its caffeine content, but mostly because it contains an antioxidant compound called EGCG. You’ll need to drink two to three cups of green tea a day, or take a supplement containing green tea extract, to get enough to boost your metabolism.
There are many types of green tea out there, it can be hard to decide what to get. Avoid sweetened green tea. Go to your local grocery store and try a few different ones. Homemade tea is cheap!
Drinking plenty of water can help with weight loss. For one thing, if you’re drinking more water, you’re probably drinking less higher-calorie beverages. Water can also help curb your appetite if you drink a large glass of it before a meal. And if you drink very cold water, you’ll burn a few extra calories while your body warms it up to your core temperature.
Raw almonds contain lots of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, which make them a satisfying (and satisfyingly crunchy) snack. Research shows that eating a few ounces of almonds each day can help increase weight loss, especially if they replace unhealthy snacks. If you don’t like to eat raw almonds plain, try tossing them on a salad or into a bowl of hot or cold cereal.
We consider almonds to be a “secret weapon” in our diet plan. They are such a good snack, and just a few of them can really help prevent you from reaching for something unhealthy.
Thigh Fat FAQs
Is Thigh Fat Normal?
Yes, it absolutely is normal. Genetics play a big role in determining how much thigh fat you will have. Women tend to experience fat more in their thighs and buttocks, which men often experience fat building in their gut. It is actually healthier to have it in your thighs.
Is Thigh Fat Unhealthy?
There is evidence that thigh fat is actually not all that unhealthy — and that women with some thigh fat may actually be healthier than women with skinny legs. Still, it can be unsightly and something that reduces your confidence.
But even though thigh fat is not as unhealthy as fat in other parts of the body, losing fat, in general, is good for your heart.
What About Inner Thigh Fat?
When people ask about losing thigh fat, they are often referring to the outer thigh fat that can give you a little more of an hourglass figure than you want. But inner thigh fat is common as well.
It is important to realize that we all have differently-shaped legs. The “thigh gap” that some people talk about is actually not genetically possible for most women, and should never be a goal. Instead, focus on keeping your overall fat percentage as low as you healthily can.
Inner thigh fat usually sheds with overall fat loss. But if you simply have strong legs – which is a GOOD thing – don’t expect to lose all of that inner thigh mass. If it is muscle, be lucky you have it.
Do Men Get Thigh Fat?
Men can absolutely get thigh fat. While it is more common for men to deposit their excess fat in their gut and love handles, some men are genetically programmed to gain thigh fat. Others have it just because they are generally obese.
Because men are generally able to build muscle at a relatively fast rate, they can often reshape the legs into more of a stronger look by doing squats, lunges, and other leg work. But there is no substitute for shaving off pounds overall if you want to get rid of thigh fat.
Thigh fat tends to be more of an image concern for females than for males, probably because of societal inputs and influences.
Does Pregnancy Cause Thigh Fat?
Yes. Gaining 20 to 40 pounds — or more — to deliver a healthy 8 pound baby means that your body is putting on plenty of fat and fluid. Couple that with the fact that 15% to 30% of pregnancy fat tends to build in thighs, and it is highly likely that you will experience more thigh fat as a result of pregnancy.
While much of your pregnancy weight gain is due to water weight, there is no doubt that your hips and legs will experience some fat gain. It is normal and common.