"God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzle, not storms. Drip. Drip. Drip." - John Newton (Amazing Grace)
Question #90103 posted on 08/04/2017 6:45 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So I've heard for years that you can't spot-treat fat in the sense that you exercise in a way that shrinks only the fat on a certain part of your body. I also understand that each individual's body has it's own tendencies for fat storage (some tend to store fat more in their stomach, others their butt or face, etc). Despite all of this, why can't you spot-treat fat? If fat is stored energy and I'm working out my legs a ton, why doesn't my body take the energy from the area closest to my legs? Why would it bother shrinking my fat (aka stored energy) from somewhere else on my body? If I'm doing leg workouts, my arm fat is further away from the area that is being exercised than my leg fat.


not a health and wellness expert


Dear Me Either,

I read a bunch of health and wellness articles dedicated to discrediting the myth that you can spot-treat fat, but I couldn't find an answer to the "why" question. I would guess it's a biological instinct, that the body tries to keep a balance of fat storage, in order to avoid strain on one particular area. For instance, if your body decided to store all its excess fat in your left leg, it would be much harder to walk and get around than if that fat was spread out through the whole body. Likewise, when burning that excess energy, from a biological perspective it's healthier to lose small stores from throughout the body. Again, that's my guesswork based on extremely limited knowledge of human biology.

If any readers have better knowledge than I do, please feel free to leave a correction.



posted on 08/22/2017 8:36 p.m.
Muscles can't draw their energy directly through adjacent fat cells. Instead, the fat cells respond to low blood sugar (in a complex way and a bunch of steps, but this is the gist of it) by releasing bits of stored fat into the bloodstream. The muscles then pull it from the bloodstream inside the muscle cells to be used for energy. Since it has to get into the bloodstream first, then circulate around, then get taken up by the muscles, leg fat isn't practically any closer to leg muscles than arm fat or belly fat is.