Social media and the entertainment industry have seeped into society’s ideas of an ideal human body. They have set unrealistic beauty standards that have led to many people having issues with their body image.
Now, everyone has certain body parts they would like to change. The entire plastic surgery industry and half the cosmetics industry are founded on this principle. The fitness industry also cashes on this with promises of perfecting a certain body part.
This article explores the possibility of getting rid of fat from specific body parts, specifically arm fat.
How does the body store fat?
You are in a calorie surplus when you consume more calories than your total energy output. When in a calorie surplus, the body stores the excess calories as energy reserves for emergencies, starvation, and fasting.
Most excess calories are converted to fat and stored in adipose tissue throughout the body. They are stored in the form of triglycerides in these adipose tissues.
The storage can be done just under the skin’s surface as subcutaneous fat or deep in the abdominal cavity around organs as visceral fat. Where these fat cells get distributed in the body depends on various factors like genetics, gender, and hormones.
While fat storage in the body is natural, excessive fat accumulation, especially visceral fat, can lead to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions.
It is important to maintain healthy fat levels in the body by undertaking adequate physical activity and a nutritious diet.
One of the places the fat can get stored in the body is in the arms. Excessive accumulation of fat in the arms can lead to flabby and bulging arms that might not look appealing.
It is natural for people with excessive arm fat to seek ways to get rid of it. To do so, it is important to understand how the body metabolizes fats stored in the body.
How does the body metabolize body fat?
When the body requires energy, and there is a lack of readily available glucose in the blood, or food in the stomach, the body taps into its fat stores for energy.
The body breaks down the triglycerides in the adipose tissues into glycerol and fatty acids. It releases it into the bloodstream to be transported to the cells, which require energy. This process is called lipolysis.
Lipolysis occurs when there is a lack of other energy sources to fulfill the body’s energy requirements. One of the criteria for lipolysis to occur is extremely low insulin levels.
Insulin levels spike in the body on the consumption of food, especially carbohydrates. This means that lipolysis occurs in a fasted state, and most often when people are asleep.
You can get rid of the fat stored in your arm when it undergoes lipolysis. Targeting a specific body part, like the arms, for fat loss is called spot reduction.
What is spot reduction? Is it possible to do spot reduction in your arms?
Spot reduction is the idea that targeting specific body parts for fat loss is possible. For example, the idea is that you can reduce arm fat by performing workouts focused on the arms.
Various fitness trainers, blogs, and magazines peddle the idea that spot reduction can reduce belly or arm fat. However, scientific studies contradict this notion.
As mentioned, the body stores and metabolizes body fat as a whole and not locally at various body parts. You cannot control where the body fat gets stored and cannot choose a specific body part for lipolysis.
While it is possible to lose body fat by exercising a particular body part, choosing where the fat loss occurs is not possible.
A study on the effect of abdomen exercises on belly fat loss found no reduction in belly fat. A similar study found no difference in belly fat loss between women who performed abdomen exercises and women who followed a calorie deficit diet.
Another study focused primarily on reducing arm fat through a combination of upper-body exercises and diet and found that fat loss occurred evenly through the body, and no special fat loss was observed in the arms.
Several more scientific studies have disproven the idea of spot reduction, which is generally considered a pseudoscience by the scientific community.
Despite this, several articles and trainers claim that spot reduction is possible. You should take advice from such sources with plenty of caution.
Tips To Lose Arm Fat
While it might not be possible to separately target fat in your arms, losing arm fat by focusing on overall weight loss, diet, and healthier lifestyle choices is possible. These changes will help you feel stronger, healthier, and happier in the long run. Some of these are:
i). Focus on overall fat loss and fitness:
Spot reduction is a myth that is scientifically impossible. However, achieving fat loss in your arms is possible by focusing on overall fat loss. Therefore, design an overall workout plan with an appropriate diet to induce weight loss.
ii). Practice cardio:
Cardiovascular exercises are aerobic exercises that depend on the respiratory process to produce ATP in cells for energy. These exercises can work core muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular system, and increase overall endurance, stamina, flexibility, and balance.
They also expend a high amount of calories quickly, especially when practicing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). Some examples of cardio exercises are cycling, jogging, swimming, and mountain climbing.
iii). Engage in strength training:
Undertaking resistance training helps you gain strength. With progressive overload, you can build muscles.
Building muscles helps in further fat loss as an increase in muscles leads to an increase in resting calories, which means you will burn more calories at rest. This is because more energy is required to maintain muscles in your body.
iv). Maintain a calorie deficit:
The only way to lose body fat is by being in a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit can be achieved when you eat fewer calories than you spend. Determine your resting calories, and add the calories you burn through physical activity to get your everyday calorie expenditure.
You must consume fewer calories than calories spent to trigger lipolysis in your body. This forces the body to use its fat stores for energy production.
v). Fix your diet:
Further care must also be taken to ensure you eat a healthy, balanced diet containing all essential nutrients. Cutting down on refined carbohydrates and sugars helps you avoid insulin spikes which stop fat stores from getting metabolized in the body.
Adding fiber to your diet is another way of avoiding insulin spikes. Fiber also keeps you satiated for longer, helping you maintain a caloric deficit. Furthermore, fiber helps your body optimally absorb all nutrients from your food.
Increasing the amount of protein in your diet can further help fat loss. Protein is a complex macro that requires more energy from the body for digestion. Furthermore, protein builds muscles in the body, which can increase the number of calories you burn at rest.
vi). Stay hydrated:
Staying hydrated has multiple health benefits apart from helping you lose fat. It increases satiety helping you maintain a caloric deficit.
Furthermore, it decreases fluid retention to make your arms seem slimmer. It also helps you perform your workouts better, especially cardio. Water can also be an excellent calorie-free substitute for sugary beverages like soda.
vii). Get adequate sleep:
Sleep is perhaps the most underrated aspect of fat loss. Some studies suggest that with the same exercise regime, those who got adequate sleep lost more weight, specifically body fat, than those who got less than 6 hours of sleep per day.
Some studies have also found that insufficient sleep can trigger cravings and increase appetite. Following the other steps and not getting enough sleep can waste your efforts.
It is also important to remember that lipolysis occurs only at extremely low insulin levels, which are difficult to achieve during waking hours.
However, this state is easily achieved in sleep, especially if you have your last meal a couple of hours before bed.
viii). Have a process-oriented approach:
Having a result-oriented approach can be hard to sustain over a long period of time as it can cause impatience. Not seeing visible results at the start can cause you to get disheartened and contemplate giving up.
It is important to remember that it took a long time for you to gain body fat in your arms, and it might also take a while to get rid of it.
Focusing instead on being fitter and healthier can make it process-oriented. The focus can be on perfecting the process, which is an extremely long-term, if not lifelong, process.
This helps you focus on individual steps instead of worrying about results. Once you adopt this approach, the results are sure to follow.
Being fit and healthy is something we should all collectively strive for. Having good health allows us to enjoy a life free from medical conditions. However, approaching fitness for cosmetic reasons gives us unrealistic expectations and makes us lose track of our overall good health.
People would want to change a particular body part for several reasons, especially for fat loss. However, aiming for overall fitness is a much more sustainable goal that will eventually help us lose body fat from the desired region.
Achieving overall physical fitness can have benefits beyond physical beauty as it can positively impact your energy levels, mental health, and strength, leading to a more confident self.
Q1: Is it possible to get rid of fat from specific body parts like arms?
Ans: No, it is not possible to target specific body parts for fat loss. The body stores and metabolizes body fat as a whole and not locally at various body parts.
Q2: What is spot reduction?
Ans: Spot reduction is the idea that targeting specific body parts for fat loss is possible. It is a widely discredited idea in the medical community.
Q3: Can spot reduction be achieved to reduce arm fat through exercise?
Ans: No, spot reduction is a pseudoscience and has been disproven by scientific studies. However, overall weight loss through exercise can help in reducing arm fat.
Q4: What are some tips to lose arm fat?
Ans: Focus on overall fat loss and fitness, practice cardio exercises, engage in strength training, and adopt a nutritious diet and healthier lifestyle choices.