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Is there a particular part of your body you want to strip fat from fast? 

Chances are good if you’ve searched online for answers about this “problem area,” you’ve found recommendations for specific exercises, foods, or supplements. 

Unfortunately, these solutions are a pipe dream. Fat loss is a simple process, but it’s not perfectly predictable. 

That is, if you know how to eat and exercise properly, you will lose fat consistently. However, there aren’t clearly defined stages of fat loss that allow you to forecast exactly where you’ll lose the fat from.

There are some general patterns to fat loss, though, and these can give you an indication of how and when you’ll lose fat during a cut. This is helpful because it tells us what to expect, which can help us stay on track.

That’s what this podcast is all about.


5:39 – Where do you lose weight first? 

10:24 – Why don’t men see fast results with their belly fat? Why don’t women see fast results with their thighs, butt, and hips?

15:29 – How does blood flow affect stubborn fat?

19:23 – How do genetics play a role with fat? 

Mentioned on the Show:

Fasted Cardio Article

Books by Mike Matthews

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hey, Mike Matthews here and welcome to a new episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today to learn about where you lose fat first when you’re cutting, and also where you lose it last, and if this is interesting to you, it’s probably because there’s a part of your body you want to change fast.

There’s an area of your body you want to strip fat. Quickly, and if you poke around online for information on how to do that, for how to lose belly fat, for example, or hip fat or thigh fat or butt fat, then you probably are gonna find a lot of nonsense. You’re gonna find a lot of advice to tone up certain areas of the body by doing very specific exercises or eating very specific foods, or taking very specific supplements.

And unfortunately, That’s not how it works. I’m sorry to share the bad news if I am the first person to tell you this, but fat loss is a pretty simple process as you’ll learn about in this podcast, but it’s not perfectly predictable. That is if you know how to eat and you know how to exercise properly, if you know how to use food and exercise to drive fat loss, you will lose.

Consistently each and every day, you’ll lose a little bit of fat, and over time it will add up to a lot of fat if it needs to or if you want it to. That said, there aren’t clearly defined stages of fat loss that allow you to forecast exactly where you’re going to lose the fat from, and especially if you’re just starting out.

There’s also no way to significantly influence where you lose fat from, at least in the beginning of a cut. If you’re lean wanting to get really lean, you actually can target, quote unquote, stubborn fat to some degree by doing fasted exercise and supplementing with Yohimbe. And if you’re gonna supplement with your him being, then you might as well throw in some caffeine.

And if you’re gonna do that, you may want to consider some synephrine or ephedrine. But that’s not the topic of this podcast. If you wanna learn about that in particular, head over to legion and search for Fasted Cardio, and you’ll find an article as well as a podcast that I recorded on fasted training specifically.

And I talk about why people who are lean and wanting to get really lean should consider including. Fasted cardio and a couple of supplements in their regimen. They don’t have to, of course, but it does speed up the process. Now, in this podcast, I’m gonna focus more on the beginning phases of a cut, when you can do fasted training, and you can take the supplements that I mentioned, but they aren’t going to have the same noticeable effects as when you’re.

Wanting to get really lean in the beginning, you really shouldn’t be thinking about, how do I get rid of just belly fat because it’s not gonna work like that, or just hip fat or thigh fat or butt fat. No amount of crunches are gonna get rid of the belly fat. No amount of hip thrusts are gonna take care of the butt fat.

What you need to focus on is maintaining your calorie deficit and eating enough protein and getting your strength training workouts, getting your resistance training workouts in so you can build or preserve muscle and allowing your body to just whittle. At its fat stores. That said, there are some general patterns to fat loss that you should know about because they can give you an indication of how and when you’re gonna lose fat as you cut.

And that can be helpful because then you know what to expect. You know when you start your cut that although you really want to see your abs for example, or you really want to get rid of the hip thigh, but fat, you are probably going to have to lose fat in. Areas of your body first, and that is totally normal.

I’ve heard from many people over the years who were concerned that they were only losing fat in their arms or their chest or their shoulders or their back or their legs, and not in the areas that they really wanted to lose fat in, and they thought something was wrong. Well, as you will learn in this podcast, nothing was wrong.

That is just part of the process. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world. Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef.

Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their. Body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble stores. And I should also mention that you can get any of the audio books 100% free.

When you sign up for an Audible account, and this is a great way to make those pockets of downtime, like commuting, meal prepping, and cleaning more interesting, entertaining, and productive. And so if you want to take Audible up on this offer, and if you want to get one of my audiobooks for free, just go to Legion.

That’s b u y And sign up for your account. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you wanna learn time proven and evidence-based strategies for losing fat, building muscle, and getting healthy, and strategies that work for anyone and everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, please do consider picking up one of my best selling books, bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner.

For women and the shredded chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipes. Okay, so let’s start high level here. Most women and men lose fat first and quickly when they start cutting in their upper body. The arms, the shoulders, the back. These are the areas in both men and women that tend to get defined first, or at least those are the areas that people tend to notice Muscle definition.

First, for example, women when they first start cutting, often notice that their shoulders start to get more defined and they start to see some vascularity in their forearms, some veins in their forearms, and sometimes in their upper arms as well, depending on how much muscle they have. At least when they’re in the gym, maybe not all the time, but once they get a pump and they’re working out, they’ll usually start seeing some veins and on their back they’ll start to see the shoulder blades and the muscles that run vertically along either side of the spine.

And depending on how much fat a woman has to lose, they may be able to see all edges of their shoulder blades and may be able to see a, a valley of muscles directly above. And they may be able to see a little bit. Quote, unquote Christmas tree looking kind of structure in the lower back. Now in men, it is similar.

Most guys don’t store much fat in their arms and shoulders, and so as their body gets leaner, the small amounts of fat that come from their arms and shoulders make a pretty big visual difference, whereas the small amounts of fat that they lose in their abdominal region are not noticeable usually until you get deeper.

Cut. You have to get pretty lean to really start seeing a big difference with your abs, for example. And by then, you’ve probably already seen major changes in your arms and your shoulders. And similar to women, as guys get leaner, they see more definition and vascularity in their arms. And if they have a fair amount of muscle, they start seeing clear separation between their upper arms and their shoulders and start seeing separation between the different deltoid muscle.

In their shoulders. And then as they get even leaner, they start seeing separations between the biceps and triceps. Like women, most guys also notice that when they first start cutting their back gets significantly leaner and leaner. It starts looking significantly leaner and leaner, whereas their belly doesn’t seem to change at all.

Now, belly fat is where most men and women differ, women. Tend to struggle a lot less with belly fat than men. Women tend to shrink their waist faster than men, and men tend to lose fat in their upper legs, in their thighs and their hamstrings in their hip region faster than women. Which is kind of funny because most men most want to get rid of belly fat, and most women most want to get rid of hip and thigh fat.

Maybe there’s a lesson in there about always wanting what we can’t have. But anyway, not only that many guys, especially guys who are lean and then start lean bulking, for example, or they just. Eating too much. They’ll notice that they gain fat very quickly in their abdominal region. They seem to gain a disproportionate amount of fat in that area, their belly, right?

Their abs start to disappear and their obliques start to just look bigger and rounder, and even their lower back starts to accumulate fat. And many women notice that they seem to gain fat first in their. Thighs and, but before they start gaining fat elsewhere. And these people are not hallucinating. They are not delusional.

There is a physiological explanation for what’s going on here, for why this fat seems to come very quickly and go very slowly, and I’m gonna get to that in a minute. But just to summarize what I have covered so far, most women are going to see their upper. Including their abdominal region, get lean before they see their lower body get lean, before they lose hip fat, thigh fat and butt fat.

And most men are going to notice that when they first start cutting their upper body starts getting lean, excluding their abdominal region. So the belly fat doesn’t seem to be phased at all in the beginning. And they’re also going to notice that their lower body and particularly their upper legs, Their quads, their hamstrings start getting leaner right away.

And then as people lose a fair amount of fat from those areas, so long as they keep going, then they will start seeing real progress in the belly fat for the guys or in the hip. Or thigh or butt fat for the gals. Now, why is that? Why don’t men see fast results with belly fat like they do with peck fat or shoulder fat or back fat?

And why don’t women see immediate progress in their hips and thighs and butts like they do in their arms and their stomachs? Well, it has to do with a term that I used earlier, which sounds bro scientific, but is legitimate actually, and that is stubborn fat, meaning that there are certain fat stores in the body that are just very resistant to being mobilized, meaning they’re very resistant to releasing the fatty acids that they’re storing, which then are burned for energy or can be burned for.

And the physiology is fairly complex, but I’m gonna break it down and just make it simple. So to mobilize body fat, to access the fatty acids in body fat, your body produces chemicals known as catecholamine. And these little guys travel through your blood and they attach to receptors on fat cells. Kind of like a lock and a key mechanism, right?

And that. Triggers the release of the fatty acids stored in the cells, which then can be burned for energy. Now the rub is fat cells have two types of receptors for these chemicals. These catacolmines, they have alpha receptors and beta receptors, and just to keep things simple, beta receptors speed. Fat mobilization.

So in calomine attached to a beta receptor, that’s good if you are trying to lose fat. Whereas alpha receptors hinder fat mobilization. So if calomine attached to an alpha receptor on a fat cell, then not much happens. Now research shows that fat stores around the body don’t. Equal amounts of alpha receptors and beta receptors.

Now of course, we’re talking about fat cells that make up fat stores, but what you can have is you can have, uh, let’s say a couple of pounds of fat in an area of the body that is very rich in alpha receptors. And then on the other hand, you’ll have fat stores, let’s just say a pound of fat or two pounds of fat distributed throughout a different area of the body that is very rich in beta receptors.

And so then, based on what you just learned, what do you think happens to those regions when you start cutting? How do they respond? To your calorie restriction. You got it. You guessed it. The region with the fat that is very rich in alpha receptors doesn’t change much at all. Whereas the region that has a lot of fat with a lot of beta receptors is very receptive to the catacolmines and starts to get leaner.

Right away. The fat cells start to shrink, right? And so getting specific, then bringing this back to where people tend to lose fat or lose weight first, what’s happening is in most people, the fat that covers most of their upper body, excluding the belly for men, but the arms, the shoulders, the back, that fat usually has a lot of beta receptors, and it is usually very.

Easy to mobilize in. Men, the fat covering their abs tends to have a lot of alpha receptors and is harder to mobilize. And in women that stubborn fat, again, the fat with a lot of alpha receptors tends to be in their hips and thighs and their butt, whereas fat on other areas of their body tends to have a lot of beta receptors and to be very receptive to calorie restric.

Now again, of course you can lose that belly fat. If you’re a guy, you can lose that hip thigh or butt fat. If you are a woman, you just have to stay patient and stick to it and trust the process. And again, things really start to take shape. They really start to come together toward the end of a cut. So if you’re a guy, once you.

Under 15% body fat, every percent that you go down from there, every percent in an absolute sense, not relative. So if you go from 15 to 14, 14 to 13, 13 to 12 and so forth, every 1% drop usually means a pretty noticeable change in your belly fat levels. You also will see your upper. Continuing to get leaner, but you really start to notice your abs coming out once you get beneath 15%.

And if you’re a woman, once you get beneath 25 and every percent from 25 down to, let’s say, 20, really starts to make a noticeable difference in your lower body.

If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world. Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the shredded.

Now, one other factor I want to mention here that relates to this stubborn fat phenomenon is blood flow. You may have noticed that fat in areas like your butt or your hips or your thighs, if you’re a woman or your stomach or your low back or your even your butt. Actually for, for some men, you’ll notice that these areas are slightly colder to the touch than other areas, and that’s simply because there is less blood flow.

Through those areas and less blood flow means fewer catecholamines that can reach those stubborn fat cells. And that of course means even slower fat loss. So we really have a double whammy of fat loss hindrance. Here we have the reduced blood flow, so the, so that only a small number of these chemicals, these catecholamines can make it to your fat cells.

And then we have a lot of these alpha receptors that prevent a lot of the calomine that can make it from. Causing the fat cells to release their fatty acids. Now, some people say that the amount of fat that you have to lose when you start cutting has a big influence on where you lose that fat from. And that’s not exactly true.

Uh, if you’re very overweight, if you’re over 25% body fat, if you’re a guy or 30%, if you’re a woman, you are going to have a lot more body fat stored around. Organs in your abdomen, such as your liver and your intestines, this is known as visceral fat. You’re gonna have a lot more visceral fat than someone who is leaner.

And this visceral fat accumulation, by the way, is one of the reasons why being overweight can be so bad for. Your health research shows that the more visceral fat we have, the higher our risk of various diseases and disorders, including type two diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia.

Fortunately though, visceral fat is easy to lose. You just have to maintain a calorie deficit, and most people, it’s actually the first to. When you first start losing weight, so if you have a lot of weight to lose, keep that in mind. If you see your weight going down over the first month or so, but you’re not really seeing any changes in the mirror at all, you may be losing a fair amount of visceral fat, and that is usually the first to go.

And once you have lost enough visceral fat, once your body has decided that that is enough, then it will start attacking the subcutaneous fat, the fat underneath your skin. More aggress. Now as far as sex goes, as far as men and women, of course we’ve talked about the regional differences in fat loss, and it’s also worth noting that research shows that men tend to lose fat slightly quicker than women in general.

So just know that if you’re a woman and you have heard how quickly some guy has been able to lose fat, you may not be able to. As quickly, men also tend to maintain muscle more easily than women, even when women are doing it right, when they are using a moderate, not a reckless calorie deficit, something around 20%, and eating plenty of protein and training hard in the gym.

And that doesn’t mean if you’re a woman that you have to lose muscle or that you’re going to lose a significant amount of muscle. But if you are lean, wanting to get really lean, or maybe you’re not lean, but you. Cutting down to get very lean, and you notice that you have lost a fair amount of strength on your big lifts, and that means that you may have lost muscle.

Just know that that is fairly normal in women who are trying to get beneath 20% body fat, for example, and also know that it doesn’t really matter because the muscle loss is going to be minimal, and once you go back to maintenance calories, you don’t even necessarily have to. To like lean gaining. But once you stop cutting and you are solidly in a maintenance phase, you’re gonna quickly gain back whatever muscle you may have lost while you were in a deficit.

Now, another factor that is much debated is genetics. And genetics do play a role in how quickly you can lose or gain weight in different parts of your. But this is not as important as many people think. For example, while some people will say that their body is just programmed to store everything they eat in their thighs or in their belly or whatever, of course we know that the only way to make any part of the body.

Fatter, regardless of genetics or anything else, is a consistent calorie surplus. There must be a surplus of energy that the body can then use to turn into additional body fat. If there is no energy surplus, if there is no calorie surplus, it can’t just conjure up these chemicals it needs from nothing. It must be provided with additional energy, right?

Energy, in addition to what it’s burning, just to stay alive. To then store. That said, your genetics definitely can influence the way your body stores fat when you are consistently eating more calories than you burn. And it can also influence how fat looks on your body. So for example, some people have a noticeably fatter face when they start gaining weight, even when the rest of their body doesn’t change very much or have a fatter face even when the rest of their body is.

I’m one of those people. For example, I’ve always had big fat cheeks, and if you were to try to guess my body fat level based on just seeing my face, you are probably going to be wrong. You’re probably gonna be off by three, four, even 5%. So I could be 8% body fat. And if you looked at my face, you might think I’m 11, 12 or 13%.

And when I am 11, 12, or 13% body fat, which is still pretty lean, that’s very athletic. My face looks like I’m at the end of a dirty bowl. And just to give you an idea of how different this can be in other people, my brother-in-law preferentially stores fat in his upper body. In his pecks, his shoulders and his back.

It’s actually bullshit. Basically for the first couple of months of a lean bulk, he just starts to look huge with more or less the same six pack that he started with. And then even when he pushes his body fat levels fairly high, even when he lean bulks for an extended period of time and he gets up to 15, 16, 17% body.

He still has a fair amount of AB definition. He has abs that most guys would have to be probably around 12 or 13% to have. So anyway, I have shared with you how most people’s bodies respond to fat gain and fat loss, but there are anomalies out there. There are exceptions to the rules, of course. In some cases, the outliers have an advantage, like my brother-in-law, and in other cases they don’t.

For example, there are plenty of guys out there who tend to store fat more like women. They tend to carry a lot of fat in their hips, thighs, and butt. They tend to have a pear shaped body, and when they’re cutting, they tend to see. Faster result in their upper body, including their stomach region than their lower body.

But to say it one more time, the good news is you just have to keep going. You just have to get your body fat level low enough. If you’re a guy, something around 10% is what most guys are going for. That’s. To look most guys want. And if you’re a woman, something around 20%, it’s probably what you want.

That’s where you look athletic and you look toned, but you still look feminine. You don’t look jacked. And to get down to those body fat levels, you just have to keep at it. Keep maintaining that calorie deficit. You don’t have to be perfect, of course, just get it mostly right most of the time, and do your workouts and train your muscles so you can gain muscle, or at least maintain the muscle you have.

So when you do end up getting to. Target body fat percentage. You haven’t lost a bunch of muscle along the way, which can make you look kind of skinny fat and ignore anyone who says that you can do special exercises or follow a special diet or eat special foods to help you lose the fat covering your stomach or your hips or your thighs, or any air of your body faster.

Unfortunately, the only strategy I know. That has good scientific evidence is what I mentioned earlier, fasted training plus Yohimbe. And if you’re gonna use Yohimbe, you might as well add caffeine and you don’t have to do that. But there is good research and a lot of anecdotal evidence at this point that it can be particularly helpful when you are lean, wanting to get really lean.

So, If you are a guy approaching 10% body fat and now you are looking to lose quite a bit of stubborn fat, you’re gonna have a lot of stubborn fat left at that point. And the female equivalent of that would be something around 22% body fat. And you may find that if you add in the fasted training, it could be cardio, weightlifting, both Plus.

Yohimbine and then plus the caffeine. You are going to see that stubborn fat shrink faster. And again, if you wanna learn more about that, just head over to legion and search for fasted cardio. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful.

And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from, in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility, and thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well.

And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for Just muscle f o r and share your thoughts on how I can do this better.

I read everything myself, and I’m always looking for constructive feedback, even if it. Criticism, I’m open to it and of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.

That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at multiple And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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