Let’s get something out of the way first: The idea of spot-reducing, or losing fat from specific parts of your body, is a myth. So there’s nothing you can do to spot-reduce fat on your thighs or legs in general, TBH.
That’s because losing fat happens all over as you lose weight, and you don’t have control over where or when it happens first. “You can reduce your overall body fat by eating healthy and exercising, but your body doesn’t know where it’s burning fat,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of NY Nutrition Group. “Wherever there’s fat on your body, it will come off. And we have fat all over our bodies.” Also, for women, the fat tends to accumulate in the thigh area more than for men, research has shown.
- Watch your salt intake.
Salt makes your body retain excess water, and that causes bloat that can affect your whole body, hips, and thighs included. “Water follows salt, so the more you eat, the more water gets stored instead of being filtered out by your kidneys,” says Moskovitz. “By cutting back, you’ll notice almost an immediate change in how you feel and how your clothes fit.”
Per the [American Heart Association’s recommendations, most people need 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day (the upper limit is 2,300 milligrams)—but many of us are [getting way more than that. Cut back by limiting processed foods, like sauces, canned veggies, and soups, which are often loaded with sodium.
- Add more electrolytes into your diet.
You’ve seen them in sports drinks, but electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium are plentiful in many healthy foods that might already be in your diet.
All of them—and potassium, in particular—compete with salt. “The more [electrolytes] that you have, the less salt your body will retain,” says Moskovitz. “It helps keep the fluid balance stable, so your body flushes out water retention.”
Dark leafy greens, yogurt, and bananas are excellent sources of various types of electrolytes. Moskovitz says everyone should aim for nine servings of fruits and veggies every day: two to three half-cup servings of fruit, and the rest veggies (one cup raw or one-half cup cooked).
She suggests getting a minimum of 75 to 100 grams of carbs per day, although some people might need quite a bit more depending on their height, weight, and activity level.
Just don’t skip whole-grains altogether, since they’re an excellent source of filling, heart-healthy fiber as well as folate, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. If you’re not sure of your carb sweet spot, check with a nutritionist.
- Start your morning with a cup of coffee.
Coffee has a very mild diuretic effect and may timulate your metabolism, your body’s fat-burning ability, and your workouts. That said, there is such a thing as too much coffee. “It can lead to crashes that contribute to overeating at night and generally not feeling great,” says Moskovitz. She suggests sticking to two cups per day max.
- Carry a water bottle around with you.
It seems counterintuitive, but the less water you drink, the more your body holds onto it. Drinking plenty of water flushes out the excess salt and fluids your body doesn’t need, reducing bloating.
It also helps curb your appetite, since dehydration mimics hunger. Moskovitz suggests aiming for two to three liters per day—on the higher end if you’re exercising or it’s hot outside.
- Skip the cocktails.
A few drinks can sneakily add whole lotta calories to your daily intake. Whether you go for light beer or a mixed drink, they can easily add up to at least 100 to 110 calories per beverage, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The foods you choose to eat while under the influence aren’t usually optimal either. In fact, a [study from the journal Appetite found that moderate drinkers were 24 percent more likely to order something savory like salty fries, which may be the only edible item at your local dive bar, after drinking. And it’s not just the quality of food that affects your weight but the quantity you’re taking in, especially if you didn’t start off the evening with a hearty meal.
So, limiting how much and how often you consume booze can help with any weight loss goals you might have.
- Add some cardio into your schedule.
Aerobic exercise is another way to flush out excess salt and fluids, says Moskowitz. What’s more, any activity that gets your heart rate up is also your best bet to spend calories and burn body fat—including on your hips and thighs. The higher your calorie burn, the bigger calorie deficit you can create, and the more likely you are to lose weight—and reduce fat all over.
Just remember: You have to stay hydrated. Aim to drink 16 to 20 ounces more water per hour of intense exercise and eat extra foods with electrolytes if you’re crushing it at the gym for more than an hour.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
- Try tracking your meals.
Keeping a daily record of every food you eat helps you stay on track and accountable when you’re trying to shed body fat. Moskovitz likes the app MyFitnessPal since it’s easy to use and has estimates for most foods (but plain old pen-and-paper works fine, too).
Keeping tabs on your diet also means planning your meals ahead of time as often as possible. “Life gets in the way and it’s hard to stay on track, so having your meals planned out helps for sure,” says Moskovitz.
- Cut back on carbs.
When your body transforms carbs into glycogen, they’re stored along with water in your liver and muscle. That means the more carbs you eat, the more water your body stores. “That’s why a lot of people find they lose a few pounds immediately on a low-carb diet. A lot of that is water weight,” says Moskovitz.