Let’s get this straight, body fat is not your enemy and is essential in our day-to-day functioning. According to a 2012 paper published in Food & Function, for adults with average weight and fitness, the acceptable body fat range is 18-25 percent for males and 25-31 percent for females. If you want to get leaner thighs and legs, the first thing to note is that spot reduction is a myth. When you work out or eat healthier, you will lose fat overall, not just your thighs. Thus, do not trust scams or fad diets that promote quick fixes and focus on a well-planned and researched routine that is catered to your body and needs.
A 2012 research for the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggests that genetics play a big role in fat distribution in your body. Some people carry weight in certain areas differently than others, so it’s no use wondering why your progress doesn’t look the same as the person next to you. Moreover, though a 2018 study published in the journal Biology of Sex Differences concluded that females tend to carry more essential body fat for reproductive health, cardiovascular health and protection of vital organs.
Sustainable tips on how to lose thigh fat
Don’t just lose fat, strengthen muscle and bones
- Follow a balanced diet: Since the point of losing weight in your thighs is to lose fat and not muscle mass, changing up your food habits along with an exercise routine is your best bet. Reducing calorie intake (with professional supervision and only if you are in the surplus), hydration, as well as consuming 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of your body weight can help, suggests the Indian Council of Medical Research. If you want to know how to lose thigh fat, then you need to understand that though there is no specific diet that caters to thighs only, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high fibre foods and protein (from lean meat, dairy, eggs, seeds, nuts, pulses etc). This, obviously, is in conjunction with reduction of alcohol intake.
- Get enough rest and recovery: A well-rested body and mind is crucial to reap the full benefits of exercise and nutrition. Excessive cortisol levels due to stress can lead to fluctuating appetite, overeating and fatigue. Moreover, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day to regulate hormone production. Also when you’re working out multiple times a week, your body needs rest time to recover. You can try relaxing exercises like yoga, meditation, box breathing etc to calm your nerves before bed. A 2010 paper in Molecular Medicine Reports found chamomile to be an excellent herbal tea to combat insomnia, inflammation, rheumatic pain etc.
- Focus on bone health: Remember, losing weight is just part of the process, your primary focus should be on getting stronger muscles and very importantly, building stronger bones. Prolonged inactivity or excessive weight loss can cause loss of bone mass and weaken your legs. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the best time for skeletal development is our teen years. Weight-bearing exercises, strength training, getting enough calcium and Vitamin D are important steps in that direction. As adults over 25, we may increase 1-2 percent bone density but the main goal is to prevent bone loss by following the same guidelines, maintaining good posture and doing balance training.
- Be consistent and patient: Leg transformation cannot be achieved with quick fixes or shortcuts. It requires consistency and patience. Depending on your body structure, it can take weeks or months and it’s necessary to provide yourself that time to build a stronger and healthier version of you. Set manageable goals for yourself that are specific; attainable; and forgiving (less than perfect), as per the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, USA. The goal is to be more accepting of your body and to do what’s best for long-term health. There is no magic number you need to achieve, even the most athletic can have cellulite or stretch marks on their thighs and hips. Therefore, be kind and take it easy.
Best exercises to lose thigh fat
- Do squat variations: Strength training is one of the easiest ways to combine the benefits of fat loss and increasing muscle and bone strength. Squatting is one of the best resistance workouts that engages your entire lower body and builds leg strength. It also has a lot of variations,which means that you can modify your routine as you progress and continue challenging yourself by doing different versions of the same exercise. Gregory D. Myer et al conclude in their 2014 paper for the Strength and Conditioning Journal that squats, especially back squats, are one of the foundational exercises “for neuromuscular control, strength, stability, and mobility”. You can use your own body weight, resistance bands, free weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc) or weight machines. You can begin by doing normal bodyweight squats and then weighted versions like barbell squats, goblet squats, bulgarian split squats etc.
- Start multi-joint strength training: Apart from squats, other multi-joint exercises are also beneficial in reducing body fat and toning your thighs. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests doing these exercises 2-3 times a week to work various muscle groups at the same time and burn more calories. Some effective moves include lunges, leg presses, hamstring curls etc. Deadlifts are a great way to engage your hamstrings, according to a 2018 research in MOJ Yoga and Physical Therapy. You can start with just your bodyweight but progress with dumbbells or kettlebells to build further endurance.
- Mix it up with aerobics and team sports: The United States Department of Health and Human Services says that a combination of strength training with aerobic exercises is ideal for maximum results. Running, jogging, skipping rope, swimming, cycling, dancing一these are all amazing ways to workout your legs and bones with moderate to high impact. Additionally, you can also play group sports like football, basketball, volleyball etc. These alternate exercises will not only be great for your hearts, lungs and legs, they will also help add variation and entertainment to your usual monotonous regime.
- Train all muscle groups: As spot reduction of fat has already been debunked by several researchers, training multiple muscle groups at once is better suited for losing fat and gaining strength and lean mass. Your thighs are made up of hamstrings (back thigh muscles), adductors (inner thigh muscles) and quadriceps (frontal thigh muscles). Talk to your trainer and build a routine that engages all of these for better results as well as less pressure on your calves or ankles.