Spot Reduction: Is It Possible?

For years, thousands of well-intended individuals have purchased magazines, products and nutritional supplements in hopes to achieve their ideal body. At the end of the day, it always comes back to people being frustrated about their abs or hips and wanting to know how to spot reduce those areas.

Instead of pushing them off as fools, they actually have good reason to believe that spot reduction might very well be possible. Have you ever heard the saying “Fat burns in the flame of muscle”? Well it’s a popular exercise science term that essential means that if you train a muscle you burn the fat around it.


It’s true for more areas. Do  a curl and you’ll burn some arm fat simply because your arms have a easier time dilating and allowing blood flow which brings fat burning hormones into the area. Your abs and hips, not that much. Until recently….

Glycyrrhetinic acid, the active principle of licorice, can reduce the thickness of subcutaneous thigh fat through topical application.
Steroids. 2005 Jul;70(8):538-42. Epub 2005 Apr 12.

One group got glycyrrhetinic acid cream and the other was given a placebo. After one month, there was a significant difference between the groups.


Promising but one study means nothing.

Topical fat reduction from the waist.
Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 May;9(3):300-3.

Two groups were put on a 1200 calorie diet for 12 weeks and one group was given aminophylline cream on the stomach.

Both groups lost the same weight but the aminophylline group has a noticeable reducing in waist size.

That’s very interesting. Is it worth getting all excited about? Not likely, with research we tend to focus on a single area instead of the entire study but it is encouraging. I know more than a few companies that use both cream in their spot reduction products but unless you’re on a extreme diet and doing your cardio, don’t think about it!

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