- To lose thigh fat you’ll need to eat healthily, do cardio, and build thigh muscles.
- Strengthening thigh muscles through sumo and goblet squats can give them a slimmer appearance.
- Also, focus on forms of cardio that engage your thighs like running.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
It’s normal to have fat on your body, and it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed by. In fact, body fat is crucial for our health — it protects our organs, insulates us, and stores energy. However, too much body fat has been linked to
, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
If you want to lose fat, it’s important to know fat distribution varies from person to person and is largely due to genetics. For example, women tend to have more body fat on their hips and thighs than men do. This means some people may be able to slim their thighs by losing weight, but some people may not.
And, if you’re looking to lose fat in one spot — say your thighs — you’ll have to focus on losing weight overall. That’s because it’s impossible to reduce fat in one area alone.
With that in mind, here is a three-step guide to losing thigh fat and toning your legs.
1. Eat a healthy diet
6 easy ways to start eating healthy, according to dietitians
To lose thigh fat, you’ll have to follow a healthy diet, which is imperative for
, says Jessica Mazzucco, a certified fitness trainer and founder of The Glute Recruit. Weight loss is complicated, but the goal should be to burn more calories than you take in.
There isn’t one particular diet that is best for losing thigh fat, but in general, reducing consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars aids in weight loss, Mazzucco says. Refined carbs and added sugars are those found in processed foods, like baked goods, frozen meals, and potato chips.
To eat a healthy diet focus on consuming mostly:
- Fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and high in fiber, meaning they keep you fuller longer so you consume fewer calories overall.
- Lean sources of protein, like beans, eggs, and chicken breast, can also help fill you up and build muscle.
- Whole grains, like brown rice and whole-wheat bread or pasta.
- Low-fat dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
2. Do cardio
Cardio is a great way to lose fat in all areas of the body, including your legs, Mazzucco says. Cardio exercises burn a lot of calories, which can help you stay in a calorie deficit.
While long-distance running and cycling can help you lose weight, shorter periods of intense exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or sprinting can be just as effective at reducing body fat. These types of workouts also boost your metabolism so your body continues to burn calories even when you’re finished sweating.
In fact, a small 2014 study examined how effective sprint intervals were on reducing fat mass in women aged 22 to 27. Participants who completed six weeks of sprint interval training on a treadmill three times a week lost an average of 8% body fat.
Another small 2010 study found indoor cycling helped participants lose weight without reducing calorie intake. Participants engaged in indoor cycling three times a week for 12 weeks and experienced a 3.2% reduction in body weight and a 5% reduction in fat mass.
Note: Exactly how often you should do cardio to lose weight depends on your individual goals, Mazzucco says. But in general, adults should do at least 30 minutes of cardio five days a week for overall health.
3. Tone your legs
Building muscle through strength training can help you lose fat all over your body, including your thighs, and strengthening your legs can also give them a more lean and toned appearance, says Andy Stern, a certified personal trainer and founder of Rumble, a boxing gym that provides group fitness classes.
In fact, a 2018 study examined the effects of resistance training and calorie reduction on fat loss. Participants were divided into three groups — one that focused on diet changes only, one that focused on strength training only, and one that did both. All three groups lost body fat over four months, but only the resistance training groups increased lean muscle mass.
To strengthen your thighs, Stern recommends:
1. Sumo squats
Filadendron/Getty Images; Insider
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Bend at the knees and push your hips back, keeping your chest up.
- Do three to four sets of eight to 15 reps.
Note: You can do these with just bodyweight or you can add dumbbells at the shoulders for more resistance.
2. Curtsy lunges
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Put one foot behind the other and bend knees into a lunge.
- Hover your knee just above the floor.
- Return to standing.
- Do three sets of 15 reps.
3. Goblet squats
Note: This exercise requires a kettlebell.
- Hold the kettlebell in front of you with both hands and stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Bend your knees and lower your body as far as you can in a squat position.
- Return to standing
- Do three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Mazzucco recommends leg-focused strength training three to four times a week, with 48 to 72 hours between workouts to give your muscles time to recover.
If you’re looking to lose inner thigh fat, your goal should be to reduce body fat overall since you can’t spot reduce. To lose thigh fat and tone your legs, focus on eating a healthy diet, doing cardio three days a week, and strength training three to four days a week.
How long it might take to notice a difference in your leg strength and appearance depends on individual factors, but in general, most people will notice a difference within one to three months, Mazzucco says.
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