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Juniper Journal

Here's how to lose hip fat: Exercise, diet, and lifestyle tips

If you’d like to explore ways to reduce hip fat, let’s do it together.

Here's how to lose hip fat: Exercise, diet, and lifestyle tips
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Hip dips, muffin tops, and thigh gaps — it feels like no matter where we look, there’s another part of the female body to start worrying about.

Add in a dose of social media expectations, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts of what bodies should look like.

While it’s true that fat distribution changes as we age (thanks, hormones), it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong.

But if you’d like to explore ways to reduce hip fat, let’s do it together. In this article, we’ll explore what can cause body fat to accumulate in the hip area and how to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way (if that’s your goal).

What causes hip fat?

There’s a variety of reasons someone might experience weight gain throughout their lives, including the usual culprits: lifestyle, diet, genetics, exercise habits, and stress levels.

All of us have experienced fluctuations on the scales — a totally normal part of being human.

The one weight gain trigger that doesn’t get as much attention, though, is our hormones.

For women in particular, hormonal changes as we get older can lead to differences in body fat distribution (how and where our body carries weight) [1].

Hormones changing the way our bodies look is science at work. Whether it’s prepping for puberty, pregnancy, pre-menopause, or menopause, your cells know what they’re doing [2].

So it makes sense that in some life stages, fat appears in different areas. If you’re a woman of ‘child-bearing’ age, you might notice your hips seem a little wider than they did in your teens.

Even if having a baby is the furthest thing from your mind, evolution means your hormones still think you need wider hips and different fat stores to cope with childbirth [2].

Then there’s the other end of the hormonal spectrum — menopause.

Hormones start winding down from their baby-making surge, and this also slows the metabolism. This makes it much easier to gain weight, as well as causing women to lose muscle mass. It can also make weight loss more difficult [1].

Finally, diet is strongly linked to our body composition and weight.

Diets high in processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugars are more likely to lead to excess fat accumulation. And if your calorie intake is more than the energy you burn each day, this can cause fat buildup. One of the areas it loves to hang out? The hips [1].

What are the health risks linked with excess hip fat?

Hip fat or excess fat of any kind can pose health risks if not managed properly.

It can trigger or increase the risk of a bunch of other nasty medical conditions, including:

  • Diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer (including colon, endometrial, and breast cancers)
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnoea

And many more [3].

Most of these risks are also associated with carrying excess body fat in general.

It’s important to remember that not all fat is bad — our body needs it for energy and survival. But when we start consuming excess calories (more than the energy we’re using in a day), it can lead to lots of avoidable health problems [2].

And just to be clear, we’re absolutely not advocating for fad diets or for anyone to spend time berating themselves in front of the mirror.

We know from the research that losing weight shouldn’t be a huge or punishing ordeal. Even 5% weight loss can be helpful if you’re making changes for health reasons [4].

What's the best diet for reducing body fat?

So, now that we know where hip fat comes from, what’s the best way to get rid of it?

As we mentioned above, there’s no one magic cure or diet out there that will burn body fat. A healthy weight looks different for everyone and any weight loss program you try should be tailored to you [4].

Having said that, there are some general principles you can follow for adopting healthy habits and reducing hip fat or overall body fat. Let’s get to it!

Losing weight isn’t a race

Going slow and steady with your new exercise regime is way more effective than trying to lose weight too quickly.

If you lose weight at a moderate pace, you’re less likely to experience food cravings or feel super deprived.

This makes it easier to keep the weight off in the long run and helps your body adjust to the changes you’re making [4].

A healthy diet goes a long way

We know, we know — you’ve heard this one before. But the research shows that creating an energy balance in your diet is one of the best ways to reduce hip fat or overall body fat [4].

This means trying to consume fewer calories than the energy you’re burning in a day (sometimes called a calorie deficit).

Again, this doesn’t have to be a radical shift — it could look like making small changes like swapping out full-fat milk for a lighter version or introducing more whole foods into your diet [4].

Healthy foods are also your friend.

Eating a variety of different foods from the recommended food groups can really make a difference in reducing fat. We’re talking:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meats (including poultry and fish)
  • Tofu, nuts, seeds, and beans
  • Whole grains
  • Reduced-fat dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt) [5].

Find ways to stay active

Finding a type of exercise or physical activity you enjoy is a key part of a successful weight loss journey.

There’s no point signing up to 1000 programs at the gym if you end up hating them — it’ll make it much harder to stick to anything. You also deserve to move your body in a way that feels good to you [4]!

Most health professionals recommend at least 1 hour of moderate to high-intensity exercise per week for weight loss.

Think taking a brisk walk, doing cardio exercises, jumping on the treadmill with some good tunes, or doing a YouTube dance class — whatever you’re into [4]!

Get advice and support if you need it

If you’re finding that you’re doing everything you can and the weight just isn’t moving, it might be time to get some help from the professionals.

Juniper’s Weight Reset Program gives you access to expert advice from our trained health practitioners, dietitians, and nutritionists, as well as top-tier health coaches.

And for emotional support, join us on our exclusive forums to chat with others going through the same things — and swap tips, tricks, and encouragement along the way.

The best exercises to target hip fat

Everyone’s preferred exercise routine will look different, which is a good thing because different bodies need different activities and exercise intensities to maintain weight loss.

However, there are some specific exercises that can help reduce hip fat.

Research suggests that exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and certain Pilates moves or stretches can help when trying to lose excess hip fat [6]. Here are some examples:

Side-lying leg lift

Pretty much what it sounds like — for this exercise you lay down on your right side.

Keeping your left leg straight with toes pointed forward, slowly raise the left leg as high as you can.

Pause for a little while before lowering the leg back down, while keeping your core engaged. Do this 10 times then switch over to the other side [6].

Squats

To do a squat like the professionals, start with your legs just wider than shoulder-width apart.

If you need to, keep your arms in front (clasping your hands together sometimes helps) for extra balance.

Keeping your back straight and core engaged, lower your entire body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stop when your knees are just over your toes, but don’t go any further. Stand back up, and repeat 10-15 times [6].

Fire hydrant

We’re not sure who named this one, but we are sure it gets those hip muscles working.

To start you’ll need to be on all fours, with knees hip width apart and palms flat on the floor.

Instead of looking down at the floor, lift your gaze and look slightly ahead. Keep your core engaged, lift your left knee up, then rotate it to the side and up. Keep your knee bent at all times. Stop for a moment, then lower your leg to the starting position. Do this 10 times before changing to the other side [6].

Other lifestyle tips for losing hip fat

Before we leave you, it’s important to know that weight loss isn’t only about trying to burn calories. Addressing your body’s overall health can go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.

This means getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels, and looking after your hormonal health.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain — when we don’t get enough sleep, we’re less likely to have energy for healthy eating and become more susceptible to our cravings [4].

Chronic stress has also been strongly linked to weight gain, with the stress hormone cortisol wreaking havoc on our bodies and metabolisms. Finally, we know already that hormones can have a huge role in body weight, especially as women age [4].

By knowing these influences on weight gain, engaging in lots of self-care, and getting professional advice when you need it, you’ll be on your way to meeting your goals in no time.

Image credit: Getty Images

Hip dips, muffin tops, and thigh gaps — it feels like no matter where we look, there’s another part of the female body to start worrying about.

Add in a dose of social media expectations, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts of what bodies should look like.

While it’s true that fat distribution changes as we age (thanks, hormones), it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong.

But if you’d like to explore ways to reduce hip fat, let’s do it together. In this article, we’ll explore what can cause body fat to accumulate in the hip area and how to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way (if that’s your goal).

What causes hip fat?

There’s a variety of reasons someone might experience weight gain throughout their lives, including the usual culprits: lifestyle, diet, genetics, exercise habits, and stress levels.

All of us have experienced fluctuations on the scales — a totally normal part of being human.

The one weight gain trigger that doesn’t get as much attention, though, is our hormones.

For women in particular, hormonal changes as we get older can lead to differences in body fat distribution (how and where our body carries weight) [1].

Hormones changing the way our bodies look is science at work. Whether it’s prepping for puberty, pregnancy, pre-menopause, or menopause, your cells know what they’re doing [2].

So it makes sense that in some life stages, fat appears in different areas. If you’re a woman of ‘child-bearing’ age, you might notice your hips seem a little wider than they did in your teens.

Even if having a baby is the furthest thing from your mind, evolution means your hormones still think you need wider hips and different fat stores to cope with childbirth [2].

Then there’s the other end of the hormonal spectrum — menopause.

Hormones start winding down from their baby-making surge, and this also slows the metabolism. This makes it much easier to gain weight, as well as causing women to lose muscle mass. It can also make weight loss more difficult [1].

Finally, diet is strongly linked to our body composition and weight.

Diets high in processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugars are more likely to lead to excess fat accumulation. And if your calorie intake is more than the energy you burn each day, this can cause fat buildup. One of the areas it loves to hang out? The hips [1].

What are the health risks linked with excess hip fat?

Hip fat or excess fat of any kind can pose health risks if not managed properly.

It can trigger or increase the risk of a bunch of other nasty medical conditions, including:

  • Diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer (including colon, endometrial, and breast cancers)
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnoea

And many more [3].

Most of these risks are also associated with carrying excess body fat in general.

It’s important to remember that not all fat is bad — our body needs it for energy and survival. But when we start consuming excess calories (more than the energy we’re using in a day), it can lead to lots of avoidable health problems [2].

And just to be clear, we’re absolutely not advocating for fad diets or for anyone to spend time berating themselves in front of the mirror.

We know from the research that losing weight shouldn’t be a huge or punishing ordeal. Even 5% weight loss can be helpful if you’re making changes for health reasons [4].

What's the best diet for reducing body fat?

So, now that we know where hip fat comes from, what’s the best way to get rid of it?

As we mentioned above, there’s no one magic cure or diet out there that will burn body fat. A healthy weight looks different for everyone and any weight loss program you try should be tailored to you [4].

Having said that, there are some general principles you can follow for adopting healthy habits and reducing hip fat or overall body fat. Let’s get to it!

Losing weight isn’t a race

Going slow and steady with your new exercise regime is way more effective than trying to lose weight too quickly.

If you lose weight at a moderate pace, you’re less likely to experience food cravings or feel super deprived.

This makes it easier to keep the weight off in the long run and helps your body adjust to the changes you’re making [4].

A healthy diet goes a long way

We know, we know — you’ve heard this one before. But the research shows that creating an energy balance in your diet is one of the best ways to reduce hip fat or overall body fat [4].

This means trying to consume fewer calories than the energy you’re burning in a day (sometimes called a calorie deficit).

Again, this doesn’t have to be a radical shift — it could look like making small changes like swapping out full-fat milk for a lighter version or introducing more whole foods into your diet [4].

Healthy foods are also your friend.

Eating a variety of different foods from the recommended food groups can really make a difference in reducing fat. We’re talking:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meats (including poultry and fish)
  • Tofu, nuts, seeds, and beans
  • Whole grains
  • Reduced-fat dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt) [5].

Find ways to stay active

Finding a type of exercise or physical activity you enjoy is a key part of a successful weight loss journey.

There’s no point signing up to 1000 programs at the gym if you end up hating them — it’ll make it much harder to stick to anything. You also deserve to move your body in a way that feels good to you [4]!

Most health professionals recommend at least 1 hour of moderate to high-intensity exercise per week for weight loss.

Think taking a brisk walk, doing cardio exercises, jumping on the treadmill with some good tunes, or doing a YouTube dance class — whatever you’re into [4]!

Get advice and support if you need it

If you’re finding that you’re doing everything you can and the weight just isn’t moving, it might be time to get some help from the professionals.

Juniper’s Weight Reset Program gives you access to expert advice from our trained health practitioners, dietitians, and nutritionists, as well as top-tier health coaches.

And for emotional support, join us on our exclusive forums to chat with others going through the same things — and swap tips, tricks, and encouragement along the way.

The best exercises to target hip fat

Everyone’s preferred exercise routine will look different, which is a good thing because different bodies need different activities and exercise intensities to maintain weight loss.

However, there are some specific exercises that can help reduce hip fat.

Research suggests that exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and certain Pilates moves or stretches can help when trying to lose excess hip fat [6]. Here are some examples:

Side-lying leg lift

Pretty much what it sounds like — for this exercise you lay down on your right side.

Keeping your left leg straight with toes pointed forward, slowly raise the left leg as high as you can.

Pause for a little while before lowering the leg back down, while keeping your core engaged. Do this 10 times then switch over to the other side [6].

Squats

To do a squat like the professionals, start with your legs just wider than shoulder-width apart.

If you need to, keep your arms in front (clasping your hands together sometimes helps) for extra balance.

Keeping your back straight and core engaged, lower your entire body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stop when your knees are just over your toes, but don’t go any further. Stand back up, and repeat 10-15 times [6].

Fire hydrant

We’re not sure who named this one, but we are sure it gets those hip muscles working.

To start you’ll need to be on all fours, with knees hip width apart and palms flat on the floor.

Instead of looking down at the floor, lift your gaze and look slightly ahead. Keep your core engaged, lift your left knee up, then rotate it to the side and up. Keep your knee bent at all times. Stop for a moment, then lower your leg to the starting position. Do this 10 times before changing to the other side [6].

Other lifestyle tips for losing hip fat

Before we leave you, it’s important to know that weight loss isn’t only about trying to burn calories. Addressing your body’s overall health can go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.

This means getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels, and looking after your hormonal health.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain — when we don’t get enough sleep, we’re less likely to have energy for healthy eating and become more susceptible to our cravings [4].

Chronic stress has also been strongly linked to weight gain, with the stress hormone cortisol wreaking havoc on our bodies and metabolisms. Finally, we know already that hormones can have a huge role in body weight, especially as women age [4].

By knowing these influences on weight gain, engaging in lots of self-care, and getting professional advice when you need it, you’ll be on your way to meeting your goals in no time.

Image credit: Getty Images

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