We all have those problem areas on our bodies. For some, they cringe when they look at their belly or wouldn’t dare to wear short sleeves because of their flabby arms. If your lower body is the issue, however, this is the article to read.
Like us, are you jealous of the celebrities with toned legs, the elusive thigh gap and no cellulite in sight? What about those girls at the gym who wear spandex shorts every day of the year? How can you get those sexy, sleek legs to flaunt? While some people are just born with great legs, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the look of your legs, so, with some hard work and determination, thinner thighs can be yours.
In this article, we will discuss several aspects on how to lose thigh fat. We’ll discuss why our legs look the way they do and offer nutrition and fitness tips to get your legs in the best shape ever. Use this article as your step-by-step beginner’s guide to better legs (and maybe a better body overall).
The Biology of Thunder Thighs
Do you ever feel like the universe is working against you on your quest towards sculpted, slim thighs? Well, that’s because it kind of is. Let’s explore this further.
From a biological standpoint, fat storage is the body’s way of storing energy. Your body is constantly trying to fight off perceived threats. Hundreds of years ago, our ancestors had to put on fat in order to survive a famine or a brutal winter. Fat is used for insulation, cushioning and as a calorie source during starvation.
Thigh Fat is Natural (and Preferred) for Women
Let’s talk about the ladies. Remember: women’s bodies are designed to sustain a pregnancy, survive giving birth, and to then nourish another human being through breastfeeding. While pregnancy and breastfeeding require as many as 500 extra calories per day, it’s no wonder that a woman’s body tends to store fat where it is difficult to lose. These biological activities require a huge output of energy from a woman’s body. To prepare for these enormous events, a woman’s body stores excess calories as fat around the thighs and hips.
During the cave-dwelling years, stored fat in the thighs and hips actually helped women survive without much food or water! They used this fat as an energy source. The pear-shaped women were better-equipped to survive and have babies and pass down the tendency to store fat similarly. This is why, throughout most of their lives, females tend to have a higher body fat percentage than males.
As you can see, having fat on your body is not a bad thing. In fact, it is essential for life. For survival and proper functioning, women need at least 10 to 12% fat, whereas men only need 2 to 4%. These minimum fat percentages, however, reflect that of an elite athlete. Most healthy women have 25 to 31% body fat and men 18 to 25%.
So basically, we need fat, which makes it hard to lose because it is essential to life. Sigh. Since nature is fighting you on your quest for thinner thighs, you will just have to work harder to achieve the sexy slim thighs of your dreams.
Your Guide to Losing Thigh Fat
Well, now you should have a basic understanding of why we have body fat and how nature is working against your weight loss efforts. So, let’s get started with discussing the steps you’ll need to take to get the best legs of you’ve ever had. Read on to discover some of the best tips and tricks on how to lose thigh fat. If you follow this advice, you have a better chance of outsmart evolution and be on your way to fabulous, thin thighs.
Step One to Better Legs: Know Your Body Type
Although it may be obvious that everyone has a unique body type, it may not be obvious as to how our body type can affect our ability to get the great thighs we want. Generally speaking, there are 2 types of bodies:
- Android Body Type: This type of body is also known as an “apple-shaped” person. A majority of androids are men. If a person has an android body type, any excess weight is carried in their mid-section. The heavier they get, more and more weight would be packed in the tummy area, whereas their arms and legs would perhaps resist excessive weight gain.
- Gynoid Body Type: This type of body is also known as a “pear-shaped” person. A majority of gynoids are women. With this particular body type, people carry and gain most of their weight in their lower body. You may hear someone say, “If I eat that, it’s going straight to my hips.”
Now, remember that you may not be completely one body type or the other, but rather, a version or combination of the two. Regardless of your body type, there are many ways to lose thigh fat and make your legs look fabulous!
Step Two to Better Legs: Identify Your Dream Legs
It is important to have an idea of your dream legs because, by knowing what type of legs you want, you can tailor your thigh-shaping routine to get those results. If possible, find a picture of your favorite pair of legs from a model, body builder or celebrity. Use this picture as inspiration!
Let’s break down several types of sexy, healthy, slim legs and brainstorm some key things you’ll have to do to get them. With those ideas, we will expand on them as we go through the article.
“I want my thighs to be thinner all over.”
At first, you may think that anyone who wants to lose thigh fat wants their legs to be thinner all over. However, think again. Thinner thighs all over does not necessarily mean more toned or stronger. It means thinner all over!
If you are interested in making your legs thinner all over, consider losing weight all over. Try creating your own ultimate weight loss plan that will shed pounds from head to toe. To start, generate a goal weight such as “I want to lose 20 pounds,” and begin your journey to having thinner thighs all over!
“I want my thighs to be more toned.”
Some people may want to lose thigh fat and increase muscle tone in the legs. This may be you if you love seeing a long, sleek line of definition at the side of the leg. If you want this type of leg, endurance training should be your goal.
Endurance training can keep your legs thin while toning your muscles. A great machine to lose thigh fat and create definition in the legs would be a treadmill. We will discuss other great ways to tone your legs later on in this article.
“I want my thighs to be more muscular.”
By “muscular,” you may be thinking about increasing muscle size or bulking up your legs. Perhaps you want your legs to be stronger for certain activities like heavy weight lifting or track and field sports. Increasing thigh muscle size is much different than leg toning since you can get two different results.
For instance, increasing muscles size may make your thighs larger and thicker, however, they will be more muscular. Increasing muscle size will make your muscles larger, but you may not lose existing fat.
So remember: just because you want to increase leg muscle size, it does not necessarily mean automatic thigh fat loss. Such muscle-building goals would be best achieved with max outs and/or heavy weight training exercises. If you’re looking for exercises that will rip your legs and give you extra bulk, click here.
If you want leg toning, you may see the legs slimming down as fat turns into lean muscle.
“Give me a thigh gap!”
The thigh gap has been all the rage on social media. If your goal is to have a gap between your thighs while you’re sitting or standing, this would be another overall weight loss goal, more so than toning or muscle building. When we strength train, our muscles have the potential to increase in size, which may prevent the thigh gap from forming.
Which one of these statements resembles your thigh desires? Do you have a mixture of a few? Depending on which of these is your main goal, you will be able to target the correct nutrition and fitness plan for the legs you want. That being said, however, keep in mind that many factors affect the look of your legs, so make sure you are realistic about the legs you want and the obstacles you may face. Here are some other factors to consider when formulating your thigh fat fitness plan:
Step Three to Better Legs: Identify and Treat Underlying Issues
Thigh fat is influenced by more than just weight.
Once you read the list below, think about whether or not you have these other factors that are preventing you from getting the perfect legs. If you do have some of these, you should consider treating these problems as you go.
Varicose veins often appear as large, knotted veins that can be seen on a person’s legs, especially in the back. They can be hereditary or be more prevalent in those of certain demographics such as women, pregnancy, the elderly, the obese and those with a sedentary lifestyle (1). Regarding the overall look of your legs, varicose veins can make your legs look blotchy and discolored. There are also certain health risks associated with varicose veins. According to one study, those with varicose veins may be at an increased risk for blood clots.
How to fix it:
While you may find natural varicose vein remedies online, consider seeing a vein specialist to discuss treatment options, especially if your varicose veins are severe. Also, research shows that some exercises like calf raises can help improve the appearance of varicose veins (2). Getting more physical activity can also help since activity promotes better leg circulation.
Unlike varicose veins, spider veins may be easier to hide as they are generally very small. Typically, spider veins are on the back of the legs, however, you can get spider veins anywhere from your ankles to your face! To make your legs the best they can be, consider treating any spider veins you may have.
How to fix it:
Spider veins can be treated by professionals via laser surgery and other minor invasion methods. Increasing exercise and avoiding exceptionally tight or restrictive pants may also decrease the appearance of spider veins.
Dry or uneven skin tone:
Supple, glossy and shiny skin makes legs look great. If you find the skin on your legs is dry or uneven, give your skin some love. This can be great for the skin all over your body as well.
How to fix it:
Lotion up, buttercup! Exfoliate and hydrate the skin all over your body, including your legs. Establish a daily or weekly skin care routine and stick to it. Doing so can make your skin more even.
Choose luscious skin care products for hydrating and exfoliating the legs. Such products like coconut oil-based products may be beneficial for you. If you have stretch marks because of weight gain, growth or pregnancy, make sure you treat those as well. Click here for a list of stretch mark creams.
Most people find tanned legs sexier. They can also appear smoother and slimmer, so if you happen to be going to the Caribbean soon, you are already on your way to better looking legs.
How to fix it:
Don’t have the time or money to tan your legs on a beach vacation? Don’t worry! There are several things you can do to tan your legs in the comfort of your home (or your yard).
- Use a self-tanner (no sun required)
- Tan in your yard (make sure to use at least 30 SPF sunscreen and use it as directed for the most protection)
The thighs are prime real estate for cellulite. Cellulite occurs when the fat pushes its way through holes and breaks in the weak connective tissue, causing the classic dimpled appearance. Connective tissue is a thick net of fibers just underneath the skin that normally prevents fat from breaking through when this tissue is strong.
While this unfortunate fat affects both men and women, it is much more likely to affect women. Aside from gender, other factors that influence cellulite include:
- Sluggish metabolism – When your metabolism is slow, you are prone to putting on weight.
- Lack of exercise
- Hormonal changes – Estrogen, certain endocrine diseases, and cardiovascular disease contribute to cellulite (3).
- Excess body fat – The more body fat you have, the more it pushes against the connective tissues under the skin. The more it pushes on these tissues, the weaker they become and the more likely you are to have cellulite.
- The thickness of skin – If you have thick skin, you are much less likely to see any cellulite that may be under the skin’s surface. As part of the aging process, your skin is more prone to thinning, and the connective tissues may weaken, making cellulite more likely to occur as you age.
How to Fix It:
While you can’t change the thickness of your skin or genetics, you can fight back against cellulite to reduce the appearance of this dimply fat by slimming your thighs down. Losing weight and slimming your thighs will help you reduce the overall fat in your body. When you reduce the fat in your body, you reduce the amount of cellulite you have on your thighs, butt, and other cellulite-prone areas. Keep reading to get the tips and tricks for slimming thigh fat via diet and exercise.
Lack of Toning:
Maybe your thighs are actually a good size despite your dissatisfaction. In some cases, healthy thighs just need a little toning to change the composition from primarily fat to primarily muscle.
How to Fix It:
Toning up requires strength training, which can be broken up into both toning exercises and muscle bulking exercises. Jump down to our exercise recommendations to get the best exercises for toning those legs to make them less flabby.
Lack of toning in the surrounding muscles:
Your body is connected from head to toe. With that being said, make sure your musculature in the areas around your thighs are toned as well. For example, your abdominal muscles work to pull up your quadriceps in order to relieve the pressure on the knees. Your gluteal muscles help with stabilization of the hip joint and work together with the quadriceps to engage in numerous power movements.
How to Fix It:
In order to get great legs and lose fat in your thighs, exercise your lower body and abdominals. The more well-rounded your workouts, the better (and more proportional) you’ll look.
Step Four to Better Legs: Know What to Eat
Although fad diets and crash diets like the 3 Day Military Diet can be tempting, these diets are not your solution for how to lose thigh fat. In fact, these are exactly the type of diets that you want to avoid. Crash diets tend to be highly unsustainable and put your body into starvation mode. When you are in starvation mode, your body actually holds on to the fat because it perceives the threat of low calorie intake. Remember when we talked about the cavepeople? It is important to find the balance between losing thigh fat and not putting yourself into starvation.
So, what should you do? Make sure you are consuming enough calories to avoid the starvation mode, yet you are still able to lose weight. According to Harvard Medical School, women should consume no less than 1200 calories per day for weight loss. Men should consume no less than 1500 calories for weight loss. Consuming less than these amounts may put your body into starvation mode and deter weight loss.
The Best Diet to Help You Lose Thigh Fat
In short, focus on eating a sensible diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. You also want to balance maintaining a reasonable calorie deficit to promote weight loss without starving yourself. To do this, dietitians recommend cutting out about 500 calories per day from your daily intake through diet and exercise. Doing so sets you up to lose about 1 pound per week, which is a highly sustainable rate of weight loss.
Ready to learn our best tips for losing weight in your thighs? Take a look at the “10 Diet Tips” we compiled for losing weight and getting rid of thigh fat.
How to Lose Thigh Fat: 10 Diet Tips
These 10 easy diet tips will help you stay on track to get the slim thighs of your dreams and really rock those skinny jeans or short shorts. Remember, diet is crucial. You can’t out-exercise poor eating habits!
Make sure you drink about 2 liters (about 68 ounces) of water per day. Studies prove that drinking water helps you maintain a healthy weight and/or lose weight. It has been proven that people suffering from obesity who drank water before eating lost more weight than those who did not.
Not only does water keep you feeling fuller longer, it also keeps the gastrointestinal tract moving smoothly. Who doesn’t love having bowel regularity? Also, hydration plumps the skin, reducing the appearance of unsightly cellulite.
#2: Ditch sugary drinks.
Drinking your calories via sugary soda, juice, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened coffee and tea isn’t going to help you get thin thighs. Limit the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume. Instead, choose low calorie and low sugar options like water, black coffee or herbal tea.
#3: Get rid of refined grains.
What foods are considered refined grains? Refined grains are foods like white bread, white crackers and white rice. These foods have less fiber and nutrients that their whole grain counterparts.
Choosing fiber-rich foods is a great way to fill yourself up and stay full for several hours. When we consume foods rich in fiber, it takes quite a while for our body to break down the food. Plus, when you eat whole grains, your blood sugar doesn’t spike the way it does when you eat refined products. Not only are the constant blood sugar surges that happen after eating refined carbohydrates bad for your thighs, they are linked to increased weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and a host of other health problems (4).
Fiber-rich meals can deter you from snacking in between meals. Snacking can lead to a higher calorie intake (which is not good for weight loss).
How do you know if you’re getting whole grains? Read the nutrition facts label and ingredients label. A whole grain food will have “whole grain flour” or “whole wheat flour” as the first ingredient on the ingredients list. Other examples of whole grains include brown rice and whole grain tortillas.
As often as you can, choose brown rice over white rice, whole grain bread over white bread, and other fiber-rich grains like quinoa and whole oats.
#4: Limit sugar intake.
With blood sugar spikes contributing to obesity and health problems, it’s no surprise that you need to cut the sugar to get thinner thighs. According to the American Heart Association, the average American eats 20 teaspoons of sugar per day. With one teaspoon of sugar being 16 empty calories, it’s easy to see how fast this can add up. Instead, make sure you eliminate added sugar and sweeteners like corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.
On the nutrition facts label that is found on the back of most food packaging, you can find how much sugar is in that particular food item. Once you find sugar on the label, however, you will see that it is listed in “grams” of sugar. If you can’t picture grams of sugar, convert it to teaspoons with this simple math: To get teaspoons of sugar, divide the grams of sugar by 4.
#5: Pack in the protein.
Aim to eat a 3-ounce serving of lean protein 3 to 4 times per day. Protein is one of the most important foods you can eat on your journey to thin thighs. Here is a list of benefits lean protein offers to those who are trying to lose weight:
- Protein helps control your hunger levels.
- You can burn more calories during digestion, amping up the metabolism.
- Protein helps with muscle recovery after an intense workout.
- Adequate protein intake can help you build muscle and get more toned thighs.
#6: Fill your plate with veggies.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables provides your body with the key nutrients it needs to run efficiently. Not only are most vegetables chock full of vital nutrients, they are also low-calorie, high-fiber and full of water. Basically, vegetables can be considered the superfood to weight loss.
A diet rich in vegetables has numerous health benefits including calorie control, reduced risk of heart disease, less chronic illness and a better immune system. However, make sure you cook your vegetables in a healthy way.
Choose raw, steamed or roasted vegetables. These cooking methods keep the calories low. Avoid adding too much butter or oil and refrain from frying your vegetables. Depending on the cooking method (i.e. deep frying potatoes), even vegetables can be high in calories.
While some people fear the amount of sugar in fruit, have no fear! Fruit can be a part of a healthy weight loss diet. As with all foods, however, fruit should just be one component of a healthy diet. Strive to get 3 servings of fresh or frozen, plain fruit per day. Fruits give you fiber, water, vitamins and minerals. They can keep you healthy, hydrated and full!
#8: Choose good fats.
Fat is another necessary component of a healthy diet. But no, that doesn’t mean you should go out and grab a doughnut or a piece of fried chicken. Instead, choose heart healthy unsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, nuts and avocado.
Unhealthy fats are called saturated fats. Saturated fats are prominent in foods like full fat dairy, red meat, mayonnaise, butter, fast food and fried food. Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated oils and should be avoided to protect your health.
#9: Pick dairy wisely.
Dairy products have been food items of controversy. Countless celebrities credit going dairy-free as a way to get their slim bodies and toned thighs. However, studies prove them wrong. One study actually shows that avoiding all dairy can lead to higher rates of weight gain and obesity (5).
So what’s the key? Pick your dairy products wisely. Milk, yogurt and cheese are often classified based on their fat content. Whole milk or full-fat dairy tends to be higher in calories and fat. Skim, non-fat or 0% fat dairy is the lowest in calories and fat. Regardless of the amount of fat and calories, all dairy has the same amount of protein.
So, if you’re trying to lose thigh fat, choose the lower-calorie dairy that is rich in protein. Limit dairy to 3 servings per day. Here are some good dairy options to consume when trying to lose weight:
- Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- Skim milk
- Skim or lowfat cheese (white cheeses tend to have less fat than yellow cheeses)
#10: Watch portion sizes.
Following all these tips won’t do your thighs much good if you don’t pay attention to how much you are eating of any given food. Using portion size is a great tool for controlling calorie intake. Portion sizes of foods are often based on regular household items that are easy for you to visualize. To get a better idea about portion size, click here.
So, here’s the bottom line on the best weight loss diet for slimmer thighs: Eat sensibly. Focus on staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Don’t overeat or fill up on processed junk. These sensible diet tips will have you on your way to thin thighs if you stick with them and don’t give up.
How to Lose Thigh Fat: The Best Exercises
If diet is the most important thing to slim your thighs, then exercise is the next most crucial component to nail on your journey towards gorgeous gams. Many exercise routines don’t focus on slim thighs and can actually bulk your thighs up. For those who are specifically looking to bulk up their thighs, make sure you do lots of heavy weight strength exercises like those done on a squat rack.
When bulking up is not your goal, strive for endurance exercises that tone. Thighs are a peculiar body part. They are one of the only body parts that can be too big due too much fat or too much muscle. Seems like a lose/lose, doesn’t it? Any thigh thinning routine should include a healthy mix of cardio and lower body resistance moves. Ideally, you want to focus on exercises that burn body fat and don’t add bulk.
How to Lose Thigh Fat with Cardio
It’s no surprise that cardio is a crucial component to thinning your thighs. Cardio exercise is the key to losing extra fat that could be settling around your thighs. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. However, for weight loss, consider the AHA recommendation of 300 minutes per week.
You can engage in all sorts of cardio exercises, however, choose carefully. Some cardio exercises can actually bulk your thighs up, and if you don’t want bulky legs, you’ll be in a conundrum. A stair stepper machine is one of those cardio exercises that can bulk up your thighs.
Here are some great cardio exercises that will help you lose thigh fat and get your heart pumping:
Long Distance Running
Ever notice how distance runners have very thin thighs? Endurance running burns thigh fat while breaking down the bulky muscle fibers. Are you an exercise newbie or someone that lacks endurance? Work your way up to going on 3 long runs per week. To start, break up jogging with walking until you can maintain a jog for 40 to 45 minutes.
Don’t like running? Try doing an elliptical workout instead to slim your thighs down without adding bulk. Keep the resistance low and focus on good posture. Again, for maximum thin thigh benefits, longer sessions that challenge your endurance are better than shorter, faster sessions.
Dance-Inspired Cardio Workouts
Distance runners aren’t the only athletes known for their gorgeous legs. Dancers are notorious for having shapely, slim thighs and incredible physiques. Workouts like Zumba or Cardio Barre can be a fun way to get in on thigh-slimming cardio. These workouts often include moves that work the thighs from multiple angles while keeping your heart rate up. This may be the most fun type of cardio exercise (if you ask me).
How to Lose Thigh Fat with Resistance Exercises
After you have started to get slim thighs via cardio, the next step is working on reshaping your thigh muscles via resistance exercises. Try adding this thigh slimming resistance routine 2-3 times week.
Exercise 1: Skater Lunges
This move focuses on toning your inner thigh muscles while burning off that jiggly bulge on the outer thighs and butt.
- Start with your feet together, toes forward, arms at your sides.
- Jump to the right, bring your left foot behind you and your left arm in front of you.
- Keep your knee bent so you are in a single leg squat on your right side. Repeat by stepping or leaping to your left leg, bringing your right leg behind you and your right arm forward as you bend your left knee.
- Repeat this as many times as you can for 1 minute.
Exercise 2: Second Position Plies
Borrow a move from the ballerinas with this move that targets inner thighs.
- Stand with your toes turned out and feet hip width apart.
- Engage your core and bend your knees, keeping them in line with your toes.
- Squeeze your thighs as you go down into your plie (slow squat). When you get to the point where you can’t keep your knees in line with your toes or your heels leave the floor, come up slowly.
- Work your way up to 30 reps.
Exercise 3: Ball Bridge
This move targets the inner thighs and the hamstrings.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides.
- Place a ball between your knees. Squeeze your knees together on the ball to engage your inner thighs.
- Raise your hips off the floor, as high as you can, while squeezing the ball. Hold, then lower down.
- Repeat this 10- 15 times.
Exercise 4: Clam
A favorite move of dancers, this move targets the inner and outer thighs.
- Lay on your right side with your knees bent and feet together.
- Keep your feet together as you open your left knee to point it to the ceiling.
- Hold, then lower to put your knees back together.
- Repeat 30 times on your right side, then switch to your left side and do 30 on your left.
- To make it harder, add resistance by holding a light weight on the outer thigh of the working leg.
Exercise 5: Alphabet
This Pilates-inspired move tones your thigh from every angle.
- Lay on your back with your left leg bent and your left foot flat on the floor.
- Extend your right leg up to the ceiling, keeping it as straight as you can.
- Try to write the letters of the alphabet on the ceiling with your right toe.
- Repeat on the left side.
Exercise 6: Stretch
Part of slimming your thighs down is elongating your muscles after you work them. At the end of this circuit, make sure you do a variety of leg stretches.
Bottom line: How to Lose Thigh Fat
As you can see, there is no easy way to lose thigh fat. It is a compilation of many behavior changes that are made over time, rather than a quick fix. While reshaping your thighs can be a challenge, it is possible with hard work, a good diet and regular exercise. By following this guide, sexy legs can be achievable!
When it comes to losing saddle bags and getting slim thighs, there is no substitute for a commitment to hard work. What do you want to change about your thighs? For those who have achieved awesome legs, can you share some tips for success? Let us know in the comments below!