Where Do You Lose Weight First? | Where Do You Lose Weight First? Doctors Explain The Factors At Play, Including Genetics

When shedding weight, the scale doesn’t pinpoint the specific area of loss, leaving you to rely on personal observations such as looser jeans or a different fit in your t-shirts. The process of weight gain or loss is highly individualized and complex. It varies among individuals; some may experience changes in the belly, hips, thighs, or chest, while others might notice it in their face and neck.

Despite attempts to target specific areas through workouts like those claiming to reduce belly fat or tone the butt and thighs, it’s essential to understand that controlling the location of fat loss is not always within your grasp. Weight loss tends to be a holistic process influenced by factors unique to each person.

Certainly, some body parts naturally slim down more quickly than others, and experts can provide insights into which areas tend to show initial reductions and the underlying reasons.

Factors That Impact Where You Lose Weight First


According to Dina Peralta-Reich, MD, an obesity medicine specialist and founder of New York Weight Wellness Medicine, genetics play a substantial role in both obesity and weight loss. She emphasizes that several genes are specifically associated with a genetic predisposition for obesity. Family history further strengthens this connection, as obesity patterns often manifest among siblings, parents, and even extended family members like aunts and uncles.

Research also indicates that the distribution of fat in your body is largely determined by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. If your mother, for instance, tends to experience weight loss primarily in her arms and chest, there’s a likelihood that you may share a similar tendency due to your genetic makeup.


During the childbearing years in their 20s and 30s, women experience a shift in fat distribution that aligns with reproductive needs, often concentrating around the hips and buttocks, according to Dr. Peralta-Reich.

As women progress into their 40s and 50s, entering perimenopause or menopause, there is a decrease in estrogen levels, as explained by Dr. Peralta-Reich. This decline in estrogen corresponds with an increase in fat accumulation, which tends to shift towards the abdomen, breasts, and arms.

Biological Sex

According to Romy Block, MD, an endocrinologist and co-founder of Vous Vitamin, weight loss patterns differ between men and women based on their fat composition and factors related to childbearing. Typically, women possess more subcutaneous fat, which is fat deposited just beneath the skin, compared to men.

Dr. Block explains that the initial area where men often experience weight loss is the belly, whereas women tend to lose weight more evenly across their body but may retain weight in their thighs and hips. Dr. Peralta-Reich adds that men generally undergo faster weight loss than women, attributed to the absence of comparable hormonal fluctuations.

What’s the difference between visceral and subcutaneous fat?

Dr. Peralta-Reich breaks down fat into two main categories: subcutaneous and visceral. Visceral fat is found deep within the abdominal region, surrounding vital organs, and its accumulation is associated with various health issues, including elevated blood pressure, increased blood lipid levels, heart ailments, heightened blood sugar, fatty liver conditions, susceptibility to strokes, and an elevated risk of specific cancers.

On the other hand, subcutaneous fat is located just beneath the skin, contributing to the appearance in the abdominal region. Dr. Peralta-Reich explains that consistent exercise and adopting a health-conscious lifestyle can help diminish subcutaneous fat. However, she notes that having some amount of subcutaneous fat is entirely normal and a naturally occurring component of the body.

Given the health implications of visceral fat accumulation, Dr. Peralta-Reich emphasizes the importance of losing excess visceral fat. Her recommendation remains consistent: adopting a balanced, nutritious diet and engaging in regular exercise.

What’s the best way to start losing weight?

Approaching weight loss as a marathon rather than a sprint is crucial, according to Dr. Block. She emphasizes that making small, sustained changes to your diet and exercise plans can yield significant benefits for your health and energy over time.

A good starting point is cutting out high-calorie drinks, such as flavored lattes and mixed drinks. Dr. Block suggests that enhancing your exercise routine can positively impact your metabolism. Additionally, incorporating more movement into your daily life, like taking extra walks around the block and opting for stairs instead of elevators, can contribute to overall well-being.

While exercise may potentially boost metabolism, it’s important to note that it won’t target weight loss in specific areas. The healthiest approach to weight loss involves a combination of both diet and exercise. Dr. Block underscores the importance of this synergy, stating that diet directly impacts stored energy, while exercise increases metabolism and aids in maintaining weight loss over the long term.

How much weight is safe to lose at a time?

Dr. Peralta-Reich advises that, in general, a safe rate for weight loss is one to two pounds per week. Going beyond this pace is not sustainable and can lead to potential issues such as electrolyte imbalances, irregular menstruation, constipation, fatigue, muscle loss, hair loss, and the formation of gallstones.

What happens to the weight you lose?

Dr. Peralta-Reich highlights three distinct types of weight in the body: water weight, skeletal and muscle mass, and fat. She emphasizes that during a weight loss journey, the primary focus should ideally be on reducing fat mass, with special attention to visceral fat, rather than muscle mass.

As for the fate of the fat once it’s lost, Dr. Peralta-Reich explains that as you burn calories, your body breaks down fat cells and uses them for energy. Once these fat cells have been metabolized, research indicates that the byproducts are eliminated through processes such as sweating, urination, and exhalation.

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