What Causes Inner Thigh Fat? (4 Proven Solutions)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: January 25, 2024
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Plenty of clients I've worked with dread excess fat in their thighs as it can be stubborn despite exercise and eating habits.

While small lifestyle changes often help slim down the inner thighs area, in some cases, the reason behind is more complex.

I took the time to read scientific studies and asked for an expert's opinion to get the most accurate information.

Read on if you want to know what causes fat in the inner thigh area and what it takes to lose it.

Quick Summary

  • Inner thigh fat is primarily caused by genetics, lifestyle choices, and hormonal factors, with various methods, including diet and exercise, required to reduce it.
  • Adjusting your diet to create a calorie deficit and engaging in both cardio and strength training are key strategies for targeting thigh fat.
  • According to a Journal of Obesity study, intensive exercises like HIIT are more effective in reducing inner thigh fat than traditional steady-state cardio.
  • In my professional experience, the most successful approach to losing inner thigh fat involves a combination of dietary changes, regular exercise, and ensuring adequate sleep.

What Exactly Causes Inner Thigh Fat?

A woman measuring her inner thigh fat

Genetics largely decide where your body stores extra fat. If your inner thighs are a bit heavier, that's just your body's way of doing things, as Uppsala University research shows [1].

Generally, women often gain thigh weight due to hormonal factors, though men aren't immune to this.

Thigh fat can be either intramuscular (inside the muscle) or subcutaneous (right under the skin). Both types can be unhealthy when excessive, with different underlying causes, as found by the University of Chicago [2].

Usually, lifestyle choices lead to more subcutaneous fat, while health issues like diabetes or insulin resistance can increase intramuscular fat.

Here are the most common causes of inner and outer thighs fat:

  • Lack of physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle slows blood circulation, leading to fat buildup and cellulite.
  • Unhealthy diet: Eating too many calories without enough exercise or nutritious food can cause weight gain.
  • Broad pelvis: Women have wider pelvises for childbearing, protecting the baby during birth, says a study in the Philosophical Transactions B journal [3].
  • Estrogen: This hormone increases fat cells in women's thighs, as shown in BioMed Research International [4].
  • Knee osteoarthritis: Knee issues can affect thigh fat, according to Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal research [5].
  • Lipedema: A condition causing uneven fat in the lower body, especially the thighs, and needing specific treatment, per the Cleveland Clinic [6].
  • Posture: Good posture is key, not just for your back but for fat distribution. Bad posture can unevenly distribute weight, increasing thigh fat.

Strategies To Lose Inner Fat From Your Thighs

bowl of veggies and a woman napping in bed

Based on my journey helping clients at Taylor Made Fitness, I know that inner thigh fat isn't just a physical issue; it impacts self-esteem and body image too.

To tackle it, a balanced diet, a calorie deficit, cardio, and resistance training are your best bets to reduce thigh fat without bulking up too much.

Here’s the game plan:

1. Change Up Your Diet

  • It's time to tweak your diet for serious weight loss.
  • By calculating your body mass index (BMI), you can stay below your usual calorie intake, avoiding extra calories [7].
  • Choose healthy foods and cut down on processed stuff, sugary drinks, and high-cal snacks.
  • Portion control is key. Eat mindfully, tuning into your hunger and fullness.
  • Dropping 500 calories daily can shed 1-2 pounds a week. That's because a pound of fat equals about 3500 calories.
  • Less sugary drinks and processed food, fewer carbs, more veggies, lean proteins, and fruits for sweet cravings.

2.  Strength Training and Cardio

  • Get moving with compound exercises and HIIT 2-3 times a week to blast calories and target thigh muscles.
  • Cardio isn't just for weight loss; it's great for your heart, disease prevention, and lung health.

3. Sleep More

  • Skimping on sleep messes with hunger hormones and leads to poor choices like skipping workouts or grabbing comfort food.
  • A study from Ohio State University links poor sleep to more snacking, added sugar, fats, and caffeine [8].

4. Liposuction

  • For those struggling despite exercise and diet changes, liposuction is a surgical route.
  • It breaks up and vacuums out fat cells through small incisions.

The Best Exercises To Lose Inner Thigh Fat

woman doing planks and a man jogging outdoors

Through years of training clients, I've found that the best way to lose inner thigh fat involves a blend of inner thigh exercises - aerobic, anaerobic, and resistance exercises.

Here's what has worked best in my experience.

“The first thing I tell clients is get off the couch! Just start making some small lifestyle changes such as walking to work instead of driving or taking the stairs instead of the lift. The small things you can change all add up.”

- Jessie Pavelka, Fitness Instructor

1. Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises , commonly known as cardio, include activities like running, swimming, and cycling.

However, you shouldn't underestimate the low-impact, low-intensity exercise of walking. Aim to incorporate daily walks and brisk walking into your routine.

For a more intense workout, try aerobic strength circuits. These combine strength exercises (like lunges or squats) with 1 minute of jogging as active rest, taking less than 5 minutes of rest between circuits.

Finish with stretching.

2. Anaerobic Exercises

man working out his muscles outdoors

Anaerobic exercises are intense and quick, making them perfect for fat loss.

They include:

  • Treadmill HIIT Runs: Alternate short sprints with recovery jogging. If running isn't your thing, you can do HIIT on a bike or other cardio machines. HIIT has shown effectiveness in reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat, according to a study from the Journal of Obesity [9].
  • Calisthenics: These are rhythmic body-weight exercises that require minimal equipment and are excellent for strength training.

3. Strength Training

As the fat reduces, focus on building muscle in specific areas.

Some effective thigh exercises include:

  • Curtsy lunges
  • Skaters
  • Supine inner thigh lifts
  • Sumo squats
  • Side lunges
  • Side-lying adduction

Related:

Why Is Inner Thigh Fat So Stubborn?

In my 25 years as a holistic nutritionist and personal trainer, I've seen many clients, particularly women, struggle with stubborn inner thigh fat.

Hormonal factors often lead to extra fat in the lower body, including the thighs.

A common mistake? Trying to spot-reduce fat, like thinking crunches alone will melt belly fat—that's not how it works.

Losing thigh fat means losing overall body fat. Your body picks where to store and burn fat, and we can't change that.

What works? As we mentioned earlier, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and focusing on overall fat reduction.

Also, a great way to achieve your body shape from dreams can be with safe and natural fat burners for women.

Related articleDoes Losing Weight Get Rid of Cellulite?

FAQs

Can Everyone Get a Thigh Gap?

No, not everyone can get a thigh gap. Due to our bone structure being influenced by genetics, it's structurally impossible for many women to "achieve" the thigh gap.

Do Squats Make Your Thighs Look Bigger or Smaller?

Squats don't make your thighs bigger. If your goal is slimmer thighs, squats are an excellent way to tone up your entire lower body.


References:

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190121103400.htm
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425161349.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4305164/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3964739/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137500/
  6. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/heres-what-you-should-know-about-lipedema-a-condition-that-causes-excess-fat-in-the-legs/
  7. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
  8. https://www.nutritioninsight.com/news/us-study-links-poor-sleep-routines-with-more-snacking.html
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639/
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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