Do Hip and Thigh Diet Plans Really Work?
Hip and thigh diet plans are supposed to help you lose weight from certain areas of your body. Aimed specifically at women, there’s no doubting their popularity. Rosemary Conley’s Hip and Thigh Diet, for example, together with its imaginatively titled sequel, Rosemary Conley’s Complete Hip and Thigh Diet, have sold more than two million copies since 1988.
Hip & Thigh Diet Plans
For these diet plans to actually work, they would need to do one of two things.
- Reduce the storage of fat in the hips and thighs relative to other parts of your body.
- Increase the rate at which fat stored in your hips and thighs is broken down and used for energy.
Gender & Fat Storage & Distribution
However, researchers from the Mayo Clinic have shown that gender is one of the most important factors affecting where you store fat after a meal – casting doubt on the notion that hip and thigh diet plans live up to their claims.
Test subjects (12 men and 12 women) were given a liquid meal containing carbohydrate, protein, and fat. The research team used a sophisticated technique known as fatty acid “tracing”. This allowed them to establish precisely what happened to the fatty acids in the meal.
Results showed that women stored more fat in subcutaneous tissue than men. Subcutaneous (pronounced sub-cue-tain-ee-us) tissue is the fat you can pinch, and is stored directly under your skin.
- For every 10 grams of fat in the meal, women stored nearly 4 grams in subcutaneous tissue.
- Men, on the other hand, stored only 2.4 grams in subcutaneous tissue.
However, this doesn’t mean that the men got off the hook! It appears that men store more visceral (pronounced viss-er-al) fat. Visceral fat is the stuff that surrounds and protects your internal organs.
Japanese scientists have shown previously that dieting leads to a greater reduction in visceral fat, whereas exercise has a greater impact on subcutaneous fat. The loss of subcutaneous fat is far greater when you use exercise, rather than dieting, to help you lose weight. There’s also a link between exercise frequency and the loss of subcutaneous fat. In other words, the more often you exercise, the more subcutaneous fat you’ll lose.
What’s really interesting is that after the meal, the flow of blood to fat stored in the thighs increased in women, but not in men. Variations in blood flow could represent another reason why women store more fat in their lower body than men. Indeed, the authors of the study comment that:
“… greater blood flow could deliver more chylomicrons to leg adipose tissue in women, potentially increasing the opportunity for additional fat storage.”
Note: Chylomicrons (pronounced kile-o-my-krons) are “packages” of fat “wrapped” in protein. Chylomicrons carry fat in the blood after a meal.
Not only do women tend to store more fat in the hips and thighs than men, it’s also harder to get rid of once it’s there! Previous research shows that regional fat loss depends more on gender, rather than the exercise program you follow.
- Men lose fat first from their trunk, then their arms, followed by their legs.
- Weight loss in women appears to be greater in the arms, followed by the trunk, then by the legs.
Hip & Thigh Diets: Conclusion
Virtually any diet, provided it’s low in calories, will help you lose weight. However, diet plans or training programs that promise to target fat in your hips and thighs to a greater extent than fat in other parts of your body are based more on emotional appeal than physiological fact.