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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Where For Art Thou Adipose?

I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. And while I visit the beach less often than I’d like, I would say that I see my fair share of bathing suit clad residents and tourists all year round. And as we all know, bodies come in lots of shapes and sizes. For example, you may see a man with very thin arms and legs and not much of a tushy carrying a large belly (apple shaped); or a woman with a tiny waist, and lean upper body with full hips, thighs and legs (pear shaped). And some people carry excess weight fairly evenly from head to toe (I guess that would be pineapple shaped?).

Where we store fat is determined by where our fat cells are located, and that’s genetic (but don’t blame your mom, dad, or grandparents – they inherited their shape too!). Fat (a.k.a. adipose) cells are like little storage areas that collect the excess calories we don’t burn off. So if most of your “storage areas” are located in your waist, that’s where you’ll “expand” the most so-to-speak. And unfortunately, it’s not possible to spot reduce.

In other words, completing hundreds of crunches won’t burn belly fat, repeated leg lifts won’t melt saddlebags, and twists won’t whittle away love handles. That’s because muscle mass and body fat are two separate and distinct types of tissue. An exercise that makes a particular muscle group quiver and burn doesn’t actually affect the layer of fat over that muscle. The same is true of nutrition. There is no food, combination, diet, or style of eating that will cause the gain or loss of fat in a particular part of the body.

But, the good news is, losing weight in a healthy way (more on this in many more posts) can help you shrink your fat cells (thus slimming that "problem area"). The bad news is you’re stuck with the basic shape you have (wouldn’t it be great if we could rearrange those little adipose cells to our liking?). But you know what they say, “Variety is the spice of life!” So, embrace your body, play up your assets, and choose a wardrobe that best suits your shape (on the beach or inland).
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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