Wondering how to lose weight from your thighs? Or if it's even achievable? Losing weight from a particular part of your body is called 'spot reduction'; according to the current train of thought, it's impossible.
Instead, tips like boosting your protein intake with the best protein powders for weight loss could help you stay fuller for longer, meaning less snacking. At the same time, exercises like weighted squats and lunges can help to strengthen and tone your quads.
As personal trainer Anthony Maritato explains: "Your body automatically distributes fat to specific areas based on predetermined genetic factors, and as such, your body will access and reduce fat from those same areas."
However, by sticking to a balanced diet and realistic exercise plan, you can improve total body composition, which can help you on your journey to slimming down your thighs.
To find out how to lose weight from your thighs, how to tone up your legs, and how to get a stronger bottom half, we spoke to a range of dieticians and personal trainers to get you started.
1. Take on resistance training sessions
When trying to lose weight and, in particular, tone up your thighs, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends completing a strength training program at least two times a week to help improve muscular fitness. But how can this help you sculpt your quads?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, muscle burns more calories than fat. As personal trainer Anthony Maritato from ChoosePT1st explains: "Resistance training might burn fewer total calories during each workout, but it results in a greater total daily calorie expenditure due to elevating your resting metabolic rate."
This was seen firsthand in one small study reported in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, where 40 participants completed a resistance training program consisting of exercises for all the body's major muscle groups. The results showed a 'significant' increase in lean muscle mass in those who were resistance training.
Anthony Maritato is a licensed physical therapist and personal trainer at ChoosePT1st. Anthony completed his bachelor's degree in Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University with a particular emphasis on biomechanics. He obtained his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Florida International University and has been a physical therapy private practice owner since 2001.
2. Add high-intensity workouts to your schedule
Slimming down your thighs can happen in many ways; take weight loss vs fat loss as an example. If you want to tone up your thighs, it's essential to focus on burning fat and building muscle rather than aiming for weight loss alone. To do this, high-intensity workouts can work wonders, like a run or a HIIT workout for fat loss.
Maritato explains: "Exercise intensity plays a role in determining what fuel source your body may use to power your exercise program. Too high of an intensity workout will result in your body burning mostly sugar, also known as glycogen, as a fuel source instead of fat.
"Fat is burned as a primary fuel source when exercising at lower intensities. Several sources cite 70% to 80% of maximal heart rate intensity is the top of the fat-burning zone." So, if you're tracking your workout using one of the best fitness trackers, keep an eye on your heart rate intensity.
3. Stick to a sustainable, safe calorie deficit
As we discussed earlier, you'll need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight from your thighs. A calorie deficit occurs when the number of calories a person consumes in a day is smaller than the number of calories they burn.
Research suggests that a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is adequate for weight loss and is unlikely to alter your hunger or energy levels drastically.
"Although it is important that you aren't on a too large energy deficit as that can be harmful for your body and cause fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis and more," Signe Svanfeldt, a lead nutritionist from the healthy eating app, Lifesum, warns.
"How much energy you need is very individual. It's important to find a healthy and sustainable plan for weight loss. Too drastic or fast-paced, and it can be harmful and won't last for long."
You can use calorie calculators like the Body Weight Planner from the National Institute of Health to guide you.
Signe Svanfeldt is a food science and nutrition specialist and works as an in-house nutritionist at the healthy eating app Lifesum. She helps the Lifesum community understand food and its effect on our physical and mental health. Signe is currently pursuing her Master's degree in food science and nutrition and enjoys helping people make healthier eating choices.
4. Keep an eye on portion sizes
If you're hoping to lose weight from your thighs, the answer doesn't lie with dieting. Instead, adopting a long-term, healthy lifestyle can aid with that. And you can kickstart this health journey by eating the right-sized portions.
Eleanor Thrupp, a Resident Nutritionist at nutritional supplement brand, Innermost, says: "Keeping portion sizes in check is key when trying to maintain a healthy weight. It can help to not overload a plate or use a smaller plate."
To get the best results, you can couple this with learning how to eat healthily on a budget for a lower cost way to get all the nutrients you need to keep your body in good shape without sacrificing tasty meals.
Eleanor Thrupp is the Resident Nutritionist at Innermost. She trained at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and qualified in 2021. Her perspective and understanding of nutrition was shaped by her father's cancer diagnosis, where she discovered the meaningful relationship between diet and the alleviation of symptoms.
5. Stay topped up on protein
You need plenty of protein to fuel your muscles, repair them after exercise, and keep your body ticking over each day. You can get this essential nutrient from your diet, but it's worth keeping topped up using a powder and one of the best blenders for protein shakes.
"Protein helps to keep you feeling full and reduce snacking throughout the day," Thrupp says. "It is also essential for muscle growth and maintenance, so ensuring you are eating enough when exercising is important to see any results."
If you struggle to get enough protein from the three square meals you eat, a review of research studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found reductions in body weight and fat mass in adults taking whey protein supplements.
6. Fill your plate with fiber-rich foods
How much fiber do you have in your diet? One study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that eating around 0.07 lbs/30g of fiber each day — like vegetables, legumes, oats, and beans — can improve your body's response to insulin, lower blood pressure, and aid weight loss.
So why is this? "Fiber is absorbed more slowly and can make you feel fuller for longer, reducing overeating," Thurpp explains. This is why fiber is good for weight loss generally (so long as you eat the right type), but it can also help you hit your thigh goals.
Is it hard to lose weight from your thighs?
Traditional resistance training moves like squats and deadlifts build muscle, but this also increases the weight of your thighs. The easiest way to lose weight from your thighs is to use jumping-based plyometric workouts and focus on building lean muscle.
"To lose weight and drop inches in the thighs, plyometric exercises — those that involve short bursts of high-intensity work and usually focus on jumping or leaping — are the most effective way to target the lower body and lean you out rather than bulk you up," says Tony Horton, founder of the P90X training program.
"Plyometric exercises such as jumping rope, box jumps, squat jumps, and burpees, when done in a circuit, force all of the muscles in your thighs to stretch and contract. Additionally, plyo exercises will raise your heart rate and get you into fat-burning mode."
"Alternate your plyometric workouts with strength training for optimal efficacy. For strength training days, add some resistance to typical bodyweight exercises that target the lower body, such as lunges, deadlifts, and squats.
"Adding heavy weights like kettlebells to these exercises can be very effective in toning the leg muscles as the added weight will help increase heart rate for more calorie burn, ultimately leading to a reduction in fat mass."
Tony Horton is a personal trainer to celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Ewan McGregor and the founder of the P90X training program. He is also an ambassador for the smart gym manufacturer Tonal and has written several books, including Bring It and The Big Picture.
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Becks is a freelance journalist and writer with more than 7 years of experience in the field. She writes health and lifestyle content for a range of titles including Live Science, Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Stylist, The Independent, and more. She also ghostwrites for a number of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths.
Health has been a big part of Becks’ lifestyle since time began. When she’s not writing about the topic of health, she’s in the gym learning new compound exercises. And when she’s not in the gym, she’s most probably reading.