What do you think is the one area of their body nearly every woman struggles with?
The Quads, thunder thighs, quadzilla, you name it. Women tend to store fat in their lower body. This is actually not a myth, as I will explain the science behind it below.
I have already written a long article on muscle activation for the legs, which is actually my most popular article on this blog:
Today marks the start of a new series:
Thunder Thighs Series.
In the following weeks, I will explain the science behind thigh fat, how to get rid of cellulite and then share the best exercises to target the Quads, Inner and Outer thighs and Calves. I have already written a lot of articles on Glutes and Hamstrings but if you would like to see another article on that, please let me know!
The Science of thigh fat
To understand why women store fat primarily on their thighs, we need to address the difference between belly fat and thigh fat first.
The good news is, that studies have shown that thigh fat is not associated with the health risk belly fat is. Belly fat is also called “visceral fat” in medical terms. This is the kind of fat that surrounds your organs. A small amount of belly fat is vital, as it protects our organs and will keep them in place. However, as you gain fat on your belly, the risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis and many other diseases increases.
The fat we store in our lower body is not that dangerous. It is certainly frustrating but at least it is a relieve to know that it is not linked to diseases, right?!
Why do women store fat in their thighs?
To explain why women tend to store fat in their thighs, we need to have a look at the mechanism responsible for fat storage. I highly recommend you read my article “The science of fat loss”, as I explain which hormones are responsible for fat burning and fat storage. Today, we will go one step further and examine what exactly regulates the release of fatty acids or synthesis in our fat tissue.
Hormones increasing fat burning are Catecholamines, noradrenaline and adrenaline. These are hormones released when you are active and working out. They give us energy to perform our best and utilize our body’s fat and carbohydrate stores for that.
To get access to our fat tissue, small molecules called receptors are needed. Think of them as the door to a house. If it is locked, you will not be able to enter. There are two kinds of receptors with different tasks: Alpha and beta-receptors. Both belong to the catecholamines but the effect is different.
While the beta-receptors lead to release of fatty acids (B=Burn), which can be burned as fuel, alpha-receptors slow down this process (A=Anti-burn).
Unfortunately, due to our high levels of estrogen, women have much more alpha-receptors in their lower body compared to man. In contrast, we have fewer alpha-receptors in our belly than men.
A study showed that men undergoing estrogen therapy experienced an increase of thigh fat, while their belly fat significantly decreased.
Maybe you have experienced this yourself: When women lose weight, the first place to get smaller is heir upper body: Arms, shoulder, breasts and waist. This frustrates many women as most of the time, their goal was to decrease thigh fat and not their breast size … .
Thigh fat genes
Another study examined the genes of women and men in belly fat and thigh fat and compared them tp each other. The findings showed that the genes responsible for thigh fat are very different to those of belly fat. While men had about 125 genes expressed differently in their belly and thigh fat area, women showed 218 genes.
In addition to that, scientists examined stem cells from belly and thigh fats areas. The results were interesting:
Again, the genes expressing fat storage in the thighs were highly different to those for belly fat. This means that where we store our fat is probably preprogrammed! While studies have shown that the number of fat cells and their size depends mostly on our diet during the first few years of childhood, the place of our fat cells seems to be out of control.
The studies have shown that where we store our fat is mostly depended on our genes. This might sound frustrating, as we cannot change our genes. However, it does not mean that we cannot find ways to enhance fat loss in our lower body and speed up the fat burning process. After all, it is possible to shrink fat cells with proper diet and exercise. Even if you had more fat cells in your lower body, if they are small and not filled with fat, you will still achieve the lean legs you want.
How to activate your beta-receptors
Is there a way to increase activation of beta-receptors, so that more fatty acids are released from fat tissue to be burned as fuel?
There are a lot of supplements on the market to block alpha-receptors and increase fat loss this way, also called “Fat burners”. While some of them have proven to be very effective, you need to realize that those supplements will only work if your nutrition and workout regime is on point. As I explained in my article about fat loss, the main hormone stopping fat burning is Insulin.
Thus, as long as you are Insulin resistant and the wrong hormones are released in your body, those supplements will not show any effect. They will only increase fat loss in an environment that increases fat burning: Low Insulin levels, high Glucagon levels, high catecholamines levels.
Natural fat burners to block alpha-receptors
I always prefer natural supplements to those that are chemically processed. Not only because nature is much more trustworthy, but also because it is much more effective. Our body will only react to stimulants it is used to and knows what to do with them. The following natural supplements have shown in various studies to be very effective, if combined with the right diet and exercise regime.
There are many more supplements you can find on the market but most of them are synthesized in laboratories and their risks on our health are unknown. In my opinion, the supplements above can be used to enhance fat loss especially for obese people or patients dealing with metabolic conditions decreasing fat loss. If you are slightly overweight and want to tone your entire body, it is sufficient if you try to drink 3-4 cups of green tea, eat eggs every day and use spices in your food.
Eat and exercise right
You can take in as many supplements as you like but they will only show effect in an environment low in Insulin, as I mentioned above.
Also, as I explained in this article (Does exercise increase fat loss?), exercise can increase our muscles capacity to utilize fat as fuel. Now, to make sure that as many Catecholamines as possible activate beta-receptors, we need to increase blood flow to our muscles.
Thus, your workouts need to specially target your problem areas. It is not possible to spot reduce fat but we can surely enhance the fat burning process by making sure our fat burning hormones show their effect at the right location.
In the following articles, I will explain the science behind cellulite and then share exercises and techniques you can use in your workouts to specially target your lower body muscles.
If you like this new series, please let me know and comment below and share!
If you have suggestions for articles, feel free to contact me anytime!